Our Environmental Conservation department helped families to get closer to local nature by sharing its skills at Chester Zoo’s vibrant annual Wildlife Connections Festival.

The two day festival, held in the zoo’s 14 acre nature reserve, offered a packed programme of creative and inspiring activities which were free to all visitors. Top of the bill were interactive shows by Blue Peter presenter Mwaka Mudenda and wildlife conservationist and CBeebies presenter Chantelle Lindsay, and other activities included wildlife challenges, nature for wellbeing, den building and face painting, backed by music from local artists.

Supported by the zoo’s rangers, we put on a range of hands-on activities to introduce visitors to the unseen lives of creatures who live in our ponds and waterways. Over 450 visitors were attracted to our stand each day and left with a greater knowledge of the habitats and life cycles of pond invertebrates and amphibians. Satisfyingly, some families went home inspired to construct their own garden ponds.

Other local wildlife partners taking part included The National Trust, Cheshire Wildlife Trust and RECORD, Cheshire’s Biological Records Centre, and the whole event was held in association with Darwin Escapes.

Programme Leader for Environmental Conservation, Heather Hulse, said: “This was a brilliant weekend which allowed us to inspire next generation conservationists while working alongside and networking with professionals from Chester Zoo and like minded organisations.

“All the participants shared the mission of preventing extinction and I felt that together we really made an impact on the visitors. We were able to increase people’s appreciation of native wildlife, and the best part was that we convinced quite a number of families to put ponds in their gardens.”

Heather took the lead on our stand on day one but was joined for the second day by her daughter Jasmine Hulse, who joined us this year as a Lecturer and Course Manager in Environmental Conservation.