At the end of March Fortem Australia held an overnight stay at Taronga Zoo as an amazing wellbeing activity for first responder families. It was an opportunity to connect and improve social relationships with peers and family members to strengthen family bonds and build social connections. It was also a chance to have a shared experience in learning about wildlife or increasing knowledge about animals and conservation. Don’t forget about the low impact physical activity involved with walking at the zoo! The zoo is spaced over 28 hectares of land and is home to over 4,000 animals of 350 species. The participants enjoyed the chance to be active as they had to walk to get to these enclosures. Let’s hear from Alison about the experience.
“We started our adventure at the entry to Taronga Zoo, where we were meet Zookeepers, Ryan, Liv, Noelle and Sophie. Once we had signed our names off and put our bags in the trolley we headed down to the Forage and Graze Café. Here we enjoyed some pre-dinner appetisers, while Ryan came around with a snake for our first animal encounter. Liv also gave a talk on lizards.
From here, we had a guided tour of Taronga Zoo, starting with the squirrel monkeys and koalas, which are so cute, ring tailed lemurs, through the African Savannah to the elephants, lions, zebras and giraffes. At each of the exhibits Ryan gave a very enthusiastic and informative talk about the animals and answered any questions the guests have.
After the guided walk we had dinner at the Taronga Food Market, where we all sat down for an African feast including delicious RSPCA peri peri boneless chicken, corn on the cobb, Boerewors (African sausage), Chakalaka, African yellow rice with raisins, Coleslaw with fennel seeds and Mixed leaves and chickpea salad. For dessert was African malva pudding! Wow, a culinary experience and a delicious way to get some more energy for the adventures ahead.
After dessert we went on a guided night spotting tour of the zoo, and visited the seals, sun bear, tiger, tortoise, leaf monkey and more. After our night spotting we headed to the campsite to freshen up and get some sleep, as we had an early morning rise for our first animal encounter.
The experience sleeping over night at the zoo was incredible and strange all at the same time, as weren’t sure what animals were making all the sounds – you think your hearing the lions, but instead it’s the seals!
In the morning the Zookeepers came to collect our bags and offer us some coffee/ tea and banana bread before our first animal encounter with the giraffes. As this was a surprise everyone was so excited from adult to child. We were given a talk about the giraffes and safety instructions before feeding them some cos lettuce.
After the giraffe encounter, we had a continental breakfast, which was then followed by an animal encounter and visit to the Taronga Institute of Science & Learning. The perfect way to wrap up what was an incredible experience!”
“Just a short note to say thank you to you and your fellow workers for everything over the last couple of days. The kids thoroughly enjoyed their stay at the zoo as did the wife and myself.”
“It was an amazing experience that managed to make our family bond just that much more special and it was a well needed escape from day to day life.”
“Just wanted to send a quick email to thank you for last nights event. It was a once in a lifetime experience and we are fortunate to have been given the chance to participate.”
“I loved getting the opportunity to go behind the scenes with the animals especially the Giraffes. Also getting to spend the experience with my family and sleeping in the glamping tent. Overall I had a great time and all of the Zookeepers were really nice, plus they made it fun. Thank you very much.”
Find a wellbeing activity for first responder families in the Illawarra or Shoalhaven regions on our Wellbeing Activity Calendar.