School children join Prince Edward to feed giraffes on Banham Zoo visit
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Primary school children had a double delight when they fed giraffes with the help of Prince Edward as he visited Banham Zoo to mark 50 years of wildlife conservation.
The Earl of Wessex was given a whirlwind guided tour of the zoo this afternoon, encountering some of the world's most critically-endangered species including blue-eyed black lemurs and Amur tigers.
He also visited the South American themed tropical house Eureka! home to a variety of species including the zoo's newest arrivals, Cuvier's dwarf caiman.
After meeting keepers, the maintenance team who built the new caiman habitat, and some of the zoo volunteers, the Prince joined Year Five and Six pupils from Banham Primary School on the giraffe platform to feed the herd.
They then watched an indoor show featuring one of the zoo's ring-tailed lemurs called Dooley and hear about future plans for conservation at the park.
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Last year Banham marked 50 years having opened to the public in 1968. It now houses diverse species, a number of which are endangered such as the Amur tiger, Grevy's zebra and Golden lion tamarin.
The Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA) conservation and education charity that leads Banham Zoo and its sister park Africa Alive! was formed in 2013.
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The Prince heard about the charity's five-year conservation pledge to ensure that 15 species are safer from extinction, 15,000 individuals will experience improved well-being and 150,000 people are better connected to nature.
ZSEA chief executive David Field said: "Today has been an extra special day for us here at Banham to have the Earl of Wessex visit to experience the wonders of the animals that we have. He was very keen to hear about our history because we have been here for 50 years but also learn about our future plans particularly around our conservation work, education work and the pledges that we are making.
"But more especially he got to experience and see Sariska our Sri Lankan leopard who he loved. He got to feed her and it was a wonderful moment. I think there was a connection between them and that is what we are about connecting people and wildlife for conservation."