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Students help zoo animals

Rathkeale College students Liam Gerritsen (centre), Ben Kinvig and Mitchell Woodhouse help feed the giraffes at Wellington Zoo. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

By Jake Beleski

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Ever fancied getting up close and personal with the tallest land animal in the world?

How about jumping in a kangaroo enclosure?

For 25 of Wairarapa’s secondary school students, that fantasy became reality on Wednesday as students from seven schools visited Wellington Zoo for a special cause.

The Year 10 students had been chosen to design contraptions to entertain and feed the zoo’s giraffes and kangaroos.

Makoura College, Chanel College, Wairarapa College, Rathkeale College, Solway College, St Matthew’s Collegiate and Kuranui College students had visited the zoo in March, to talk to the zookeepers and get ideas for the sort of designs that could be useful for the animals.

Rathkeale College teacher Bridget Price accompanied the students on their adventure on Wednesday, where they finally got to test out their products.

“There was a day trip first to get an idea of what it was all about,” she said.

“They looked at the enclosure, talked to the keepers and had a two-hour session with the zookeepers talking about their plan.”

The outing was part of the Secondary unique Curriculum Extension Enrichment and Development programme (SuCEED), and was sponsored by Lands Trust Masterton.

One of the designs was so helpful for the giraffes that it will remain at the zoo permanently.

“There’s a salt-feeder one which is permanent, because giraffes need stimulation with their tongues otherwise they misbehave.

“The other ones are feeders and enrichment to help them work for their food.”

Makoura College students produced a boxing contraption designed to stimulate the kangaroos and reward them with food at the same time.

The animals’ safety was the primary concern during the building phase, meaning no sharp edges were allowed.

“The students had a lot of help from various local businesses and support from the community,” she said.

“It helped to support with materials needed for the students’ ideas.”

Next year a different group of animals will benefit from the outing, as another group of students are chosen to participate.


  1. My son really enjoyed this activity and learnt some neat, new lessons. A great initiative from both the skools and the zoo, thank you… 🙂

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