Conservation Tour Of Rain Forest
Chaffee Zoological Gardens, Fresno, CA
Chaffee Zoo Rain Forest Conservation Tours
Welcome to a conservation tour of the Chaffee Zoo rain forest. The conservation tour was created to give zoo visitors a better understanding of the importance of preserving our rain forests. Visitors enjoyed walking through the Chaffee Zoo rain forest but had little understanding of why it is essential to save the rain forests. It became a priority of the zoo to teach the public how important the rain forests are to our world. Because people understand concepts better when they are visualized, we developed a four-station tour using hands-on materials.
The tour takes from one- to one-and-a-half hours depending on group’s time. Experience has shown that those students/groups with some prior knowledge can better interact with the docent. Materials can be easily adapted from second grade to adult. The tours are divided into four different stations of twenty to thirty minutes each.
The ideal size group for the tour is ten with fifteen tops, but we have had groups up to twenty and were able to maintain quality.
Included you’ll find a tour schedule of the four stations, plus a list of rain forest animals here at the Chaffee Zoo.
Groups are met at the front gate and divided into 4 groups. Each group has a docent who tours the stations and makes sure the time schedule is followed. During the first station of zoo rain forest animals, the docent will point out and discuss the reasons why they are endangered. Describing the destruction of the rain forest is emphasized. It is explained that man’s continuing need to acquire more living space and pollution are some of the reasons for the continuing loss of habitat in the rain forests.
The second station is the rain forest itself. Here we will see over 25 species of birds from South and Central America. In the summer, iguanas and turtles are added. A rain forest docent is available to answer specific questions and point out birds that are hard to see.
The taste table is lots of fun. Here we see products that came originally from the rain forest. A product board illustrates numerous foods, medicines and home products from the rain forest. The abundance of so many foods that we take for granted is illustrated through plastic samples of these foods. For example, coffee, teas, spices, corn, rice, most fruits and many vegetables came first from the rain forest. Samples of vanilla bean are passed around to identify.
The docent explains that the rain forest is being destroyed so quickly that scientists have yet to identify plants that could be life-saving medicines. Wooden chopsticks are held up to illustrate that twenty thousand acres of rain forests a year are cut down to make them. The docent explains that people can help conserve the forests by the simple act of asking for a fork or plastic or bamboo chopsticks. Also, companies that use rain forest products in their business are helping the economies of those countries. Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream is one such company. We should buy from the companies that are making an attempt to preserve the rain forests. We are also helping to save the rain forest when we contribute our money to the parking meter. This money is used to buy rain forest land. These are some constructive actions that can be done to help.
The last station is the biofact table. Here we get the real emphasis of the necessity of conservation. A board illustrating the levels of the rain forest is shown with trees, plants, animals, and birds. A globe is used to illustrate where tropical rain forests are located.
Through question and answer, visitors are led to understand that more plants, insects, birds, and animals are found here than anywhere else in the world. “Gee whizzes” are used to emphasize this point.
Ajar of colored marbles is used to show that in an acre of land in the U.S. three to four endemic plants are found, but in the rain forest there can be dozens. Scientists believe there are at least thirty thousand beetles not yet discovered. But the rain forest is being destroyed at the rate of a football field every second. What can be done? Pictures are used to show different animals that are endangered and why. When discussing the animals, biofacts such as skins and hair are passed around. The docent asks the tour group why animals such as the elephant in Asia are being killed. Despite laws, poachers still slaughter them for their tusks.
Positive aspects are also told and illustrated. A Tonga palm nut is as hard as ivory and can be made into jewelry, thus giving natives a way to make money. To illustrate the importance of the ecosystem, a Brazil nut is shown in its pod, shell and nut. Only one wasp pollinates the tree. The macaw can crack the nut with his beak. What he doesn’t eat is dropped.
The agouti also cracks and eats these nuts. He buries what he doesn’t eat and new trees grow. The native can harvest these nuts, which brings him good money on the market. Other positive stories are told and illustrated.
With each passing year, the necessity of saving the rain forest becomes more apparent. Efforts are being made by governments, but the killing continues every day. A recent article from Brazil states that destruction of the forest is on the rise again after a six-year low in 1997. 6,500 square miles of forest were cleared last year, up from 5,100 square miles in 1997. But the total area is much more because of fires destroying more than 4,200 square miles. Since 1978, the Brazilian rain forest has shrunk more than 205,439 square miles-more than 10% of its original size.
Although Brazil has the largest rain forest, Southeast Asians small rain forest areas are rapidly disappearing. Recent fires in Indonesia also have destroyed large areas. Why is this so important? More plants, insects, and animals exist in the rain forest than anywhere else, even though it is just 6% of the land area.
This tour may be just one small step to increase awareness of what we have in the rain forest and what we are losing every day that passes. It is especially important that our students become aware because they are the future. Their knowledge may help save our world.
Schedule for Rain Forest Tour
This is programmed for an hour tour–may be adapted to longer times by lengthening each station.
Docent #1 (Try and have fun with this!)
Your assignment today is as follows, please follow in order scheduled.
1. Rain Forest: Take group into Rainforest, a Rainforest Docent should meet you and determine if you would
like assistance with the birds. Please have your group listen to the talk first and move them along as soon as
possible. Stay in the rainforest no more than 15 minutes.
2. Zoo Grounds; Spend approximately 20 minutes on zoo grounds touring rainforest-type animals.
3. Biofacts Table: Take group to Biofacts table located across from Malayan tapir to the left. A Docent will
be pointing out things of interest. Spend about 10 minutes at this table (it is up to you to move them along).
4. Taste Table: Take group to the Taste table located next to the anteater. They will receive a taste of food
originating in the rainforest (it is up to you to move them along).
Return to designated area one hour after tour starts.
The following are considered rainforest type animals within our zoo. Please tour only several, 20 minutes
Take group back to front gate. This may seem confusing at times, but I know of no other way to expedite great numbers of people into small areas in a short amount of time.