Above: Layton School’s Year Five teacher Mr Snelling (left) with pupils and Harry from Blackpool Zoo’s education team at the Conservation Station


LOCAL SCHOOLCHILDREN’S PASSION for Blackpool Zoo’s threatened Asian songbirds has got them singing.

During the last term of the year, children from Layton School performed their song about the songbirds at the Zoo, where it will play all summer on the Conservation Station. An iTunes release will raise money for the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (EAZA) Silent Forest campaign.

The Year Five’s curriculum has focused on the project since threatened species, including the Critically Endangered Bali starling (Leucopsar rothschildi) and blue-crowned laughing­thrush (Garrulax courtoisi), took up residence in the Zoo’s new Silent Forest Aviary this spring (see News, April 10 issue).

Teacher Lucy Fidler said the project had given the students “a real sense of purpose” and seen the children “produce some of the very best literacy work they have ever written, from fact sheets, to newspaper articles and even a diary extract written from the perspective of a captured bird!”

Luke Forster, head of the Zoo’s bird section, said: “It was great to hear the children sharing their know­ledge with visitors,” and added: “The children’s artwork looks amazing and will be displayed in our exhibition room from September.”

In April, work started at the Zoo to construct three separate sites to make space for the new arrivals – some of the world’s most endangered bird species. The sites included four new aviaries and the zoo had plans to reshuffle the living arrangements for current residents to accommodate the new species.

The new purpose-built Silent Forest Aviary is dedicated to the Bali starling and the blue-crowned laughingthrush – as well as Java sparrow, chestnut-backed thrush (Geokichla dohertyi), Malay peacock-pheasant (Polyplectron malacense), Luzon bleeding-heart dove (Gallicolumba luzonica), collared finchbill (Spizixos semitorques), Emei Shan liocichla (Liocichla omeiensis), white-rumped shama (Copsychus malabaricus) and black-naped fruit-dove (Ptilinopus melanospilus).

The bird section at Blackpool Zoo worked closely with breeding programme coordinators across EAZA to bring together a collection of songbirds that will help to raise awareness of the plight of their wild counterparts.

For more information, visit: www.blackpoolzoo.org.uk

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