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FOR A DAY.
A visit to the zoo is one
of the defining day trips of childhood, but the fascination
tends to fade during teenage years. However, the 'Keeper for
the Day' schemes currently being offered by several British
zoos are proving a surprising hit among adolescents.
Peter Maltby, 16, has travelled
from his home to be a keeper for the day at Colchester Zoo.
The trip is a present from his parents, who are accompanying
him. 'We used to take Peter and his sister to the zoo as children
and it gave them both a love of wildlife,' says his mother.
Peter heard about the scheme from a school friend. 'He raved
about how good it was,' he says. The zoo offers two options,
and while his school friend chose the carnivores (white tiger,
snow leopard and lions), fed red pandas, penguins and seals,
and visited the iguana incubation room, Peter chose the 'primates,
birds of prey, small mammals and elephants' option. His first
session involves feeding lemurs and rare gelada baboons and,
as he dispenses bananas some sit on his head. Then it is on
to the Falconry Centre, where, gingerly at first but with
growing confidence, he handles several fearsome-looking birds
of prey, including hawks, falcons and vultures.
Colchester Zoo's business
manager, Alex Burr, says the scheme has become extremely popular.
Elsewhere, it is a similar story. Geoff Worden of Blackpool
Zoo says their scheme has really taken off. The days do not
come cheap, but they do provide essential funds for conservation
and endangered species programmes for the zoos. 'They also
offer a unique opportunity for participants to learn a lot
about how a zoo works and to spend time with everything from
birds, reptiles and sea lions to gibbons, tigers and zebras,`
says Worden. 'Naturally, we get youngsters who are thinking
of a career with animals or in a zoo, but its appeal is broader
than that. Afterwards, everyone realises just what hard work
it is looking after animals. They lose any idea that it's
a cushy job and come away impressed with the care and dedication
of zookeepers who might spend a full night with a sick animal
- and realize that there are some things that are not about
money, which can be very refreshing.'
At Paignton Zoo, keepers for
the day are also expected to 'muck in' and 'muck out'. 'This
is not just a chance to meet some of the animals close up,
this is real work,' says the Zoo`s Phil Knowling. 'We get
our share of youngsters on the scheme, some budding vets included,
and everyone gets something different out of it. Not surprisingly,
some are a bit wary of the reptiles and it can be unnerving
to go into an enclosure full of hanging, twittering bats,
but they gain a lot from their day.'
Some lucky participants in
these schemes experience the drama of an animal birth, or
are present at the introduction of a new species to the zoo,
but although the reality is likely to be less dramatic, most
seem entranced by the experience. 'From feeding giant tortoises,
stroking the belly of a pregnant tapir, to holding out live
locusts for the excitable lemurs, I had a fantastic day,'
one participant wrote to Bristol Zoo. 'I can't actually remember
the last time I was in such a rush to get up in the morning.
It was a great day. I left full of information and experience
that I would never normally have come across,' another reported
A15The writer says in the first paragraph that many young
l) are unaware of the 'Keeper for the Day' schemes.
2) don't like being taken to zoos when they are very young.
3) tend to lose interest in zoos as they get older.
4) only become interested in zoos when they are teenagers.
A16 We are told that when Peter Maltby took part in the scheme,
l) his parents went with him because he was nervous.
2) his school friend's advice was of little help to him.
3) he chose the option he thought would be the easiest.
4) he began to feel better as one of the sessions went on.
What does Geoff Worden say about the scheme at his zoo?
1) It is not exactly the same as schemes at other zoos.
2) All kinds of young people take part in it.
3) It is particularly useful for people considering a career
4) His zoo has to charge more for it than other zoos charge.
A18What is meant by 'cushy' in the third paragraph?
A19 What does Phil Knowling say about the scheme at his zoo?
1) A few people regret taking part in it.
2) He has made changes to it since it started.
3) It involves more contact with animals than some other schemes.
4) Not all the people who take part in it are young.
A20 In the final paragraph, the writer says that taking part
in one of the schemes
I) often includes experiencing dramatic events
2) can be a more exciting experience at some zoos than at
3) may change people's views of what happens in zoos.
4) is usually a very enjoyable experience.
A21One of the participants who wrote after taking part in
a scheme mentioned
l) a feeling of great excitement before the event.
2) a feeling of surprise at the variety of activities involved.
3) overcoming their fear when dealing with creatures.
4) learning about creatures they had not previously heard