Pandas prompt student tour guides to join Zoo
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
The long-awaited arrival of two new Giant Pandas at the Adelaide Zoo this month will give 135 University of Adelaide students a new focus for their summer holidays.
In an innovative partnership between Zoos SA and the University of Adelaide, the 135 represent the first batch of an expected 300 students to become trained volunteer tour guides at the Adelaide Zoo. They will help cater for the expected influx of visitors to the Zoo when Funi and Wang Wang are unveiled to the public on 13 December.
The 135 students will more than double the number of volunteer tour guides the Zoo currently has. In all, some 300 University of Adelaide students are expected to take part in the Zoo's tour guide training program by mid-2010.
The students taking part in the program are predominantly either from China or studying Science. They will undergo a short, intensive training course which will enable them to be tour guides not only for the pandas, but like all existing volunteer tour guides, for the entire Zoo.
Two of the first 135 students who will become tour guides are Science student Katherine Adriaanse and Law and Commerce student Andrew Wong.
"I'm really excited," Katherine said. "I've studied zoology at uni and I can't wait to show the pandas and all the other animals at the zoo to people."
"I'm proud of my Chinese heritage and I think it's great that the pandas are coming to Adelaide," said Andrew, who can speak fluent Mandarin and Cantonese.
"I'm looking forward to using my skills to help out, particularly with the visits of Chinese politicians and officials."
Zoos SA President Heather Caddick said the students' participation was a further demonstration of the close ties between Zoos SA and the University of Adelaide.
"The impending public display of Funi and Wang Wang has already generated unprecedented interest in the Zoo and its activities, and we are grateful for the hundred-plus University of Adelaide students who have volunteered their time to help with what promises to be a busy time for us," Mrs Caddick said.
"The Zoo and the University of Adelaide are two of the State's oldest and proudest public institutions. Many of our paid staff either studied at the University of Adelaide or continue research through its Faculty of Sciences.
"This partnership is another example of how we are working together to increase our understanding of the animal kingdom at what is a particularly exciting time for us."
University of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor and President Professor James McWha thanked the participating students for their commitment and enthusiasm.
"We were overwhelmed by the response when we put the call out to the groups of students - we had more than 300 students indicate an expression of interest," Professor McWha said.
"I congratulate the 135 students who will soon become tour guides. They have just finished their exams after a long year of classes and assignments, but will be spending their holidays volunteering their time to help others.
"The student experience at the University of Adelaide is much more than attending lectures and tutorials: our students have the opportunity to further themselves outside the classroom in a variety of ways."
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