A Day At The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre 

This week our volunteer and teacher Rachael, tells us about the Primary School children’s trip to the zoo. 

Since my arrival on Banda Island in September, we have been talking of how great it would be if we could take our children to visit the zoo to aid their learning of animals and habitats. Well, last Thursday we were finally able to make the trip a reality, thanks to donations from Germany and England. Many of the children who attend our school spend most, if not all of their time on Banda in the village. For some, they may travel to the mainland to visit family, or may have stayed on the mainland in another small village for a short time, when there was no work for their parents in Banda. For others this was their first time on the mainland, and for all this was their first time to the zoo and first time seeing some of Africa’s amazing wildlife.

We visited UWEC, Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, an organisation that runs off donations and provides homes for animals who cannot return to the wild. UWEC is home to lions, giraffes, rhinos, leopards and many many more beautiful creatures. This trip was organised after the children have been studying animal classifications, animal types and habitats in their social study lessons. It was not only a chance to broaden their knowledge, but also to give them the opportunity to visit somewhere they would most likely not have the chance to visit in the future.

The whole day was an amazing experience and the children loved every minute of it. The look on their faces when they saw each animal was one to treasure, they showed pure excitement and amazement. As we all hopped off the boat outside of the zoo, the kids instantly started asking “teacher, where are the elephants?!” They were a bit disappointed to learn that they had to wait until we were inside the zoo to see any animals. But once we were in and we saw the zebras and ostriches they were happy… well happy for 2 minutes until they realised the lions weren’t hiding behind the bush. Our guide, Sam decided it would be best if we went to visit the Lions first to prevent the kids asking “Teacher Sam, where are the lions?!” Or “Lions? Lions? Are the lions in there?”.

Despite the initial desperation to see lions, many of the other animals turned out to be the kids favourites. The giraffes, rhinos and elephants proving popular choices. On top of these, the highlight of the day for many was the fight between two chimpanzees that broke out over a piece of aubergine during feeding time. The kids, especially Sunday, have developed a very good chimpanzee impression and certainly remember the noise that these amazing animals make (and won’t let us forget it).

So after we had spent the day running from enclosure to enclosure admiring elephants, crocodiles, snakes, hyenas and loads of other African animals. And asking Teacher Sam how old each animal was, how long they could live for and what food they liked to eat, we were ready to make the journey home.

We set off for Banda on the boat with some very happy, excited but sleepy children. We were very happy with the trip and glad to hear that the children enjoyed it. It was even better to hear from one of the village leaders that the kids were on the microphone at karaoke that night, telling everyone what they had seen at the zoo and how much they had enjoyed their day.
We hope that we will be able to repeat this trip each year as the younger children begin to learn about animals too. I would like to thank all of those who have supported us and as a result made our trip to UWEC Zoo possible. It was hugely worthwhile for the children and really helped bring to life what they have been studying.

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