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Dec 1, 2008

Hero Rat Day

Hero Rat Day from Exmoor Zoological Park  
Training giant rats to find land mines and save lives 

Giant Gambian pouched rats (Cricetomys gambianus) have been successfully trained by Belgian company APOPO to detect landmines using their incredible sense of smell. They can do in 30 minutes a job that would take a human team two days! Landmines ruin lives and stop economic development and agriculture in many countries. The rats can be adopted to help pay for training.

The United Kingdom has one of the worst uptakes for adoption. Exmoor zoo held a fun day to raise awareness of the rats and their work, highlighting the global landmine problem and encouraging people to assist the project by adopting a “Hero Rat”. Visitors were able to test their sense of smell against a rat by identifying the smell of a landmine trail at the zoo.

They were given a chance to meet a live rat and see how metal detectors worked. An interactive puppet show enabled younger visitors to ask questions. Mind maps were used to establish pre-visit knowledge of the rats and their work. Mind maps were also used to establish post visit knowledge. A goody bag including DVD and adoption leaflet were free on departure for all who did the trail. The zoo succeeded in its aims. 

Developed by:  Exmoor Zoological Park

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