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Aug 12, 2006

Turtles Can't Fly

Turtles can't fly from Chester Zoo - North of England Zoological Society  
An open air theatre performance with an empowering conservation message 

Turtles Can’t Fly was an open air theatre performance which aimed to provide a stimulating and positive experience for family audiences in Chester Zoo, while gently introducing an empowering conservation message suitable for young children.

To achieve our objectives a writer was commissioned to create a script with a storyline which reflected Chester Zoo’s conservation work. The show was set in the Philippines Rainforest where Chester Zoo has a strong in-situ presence and featured a turtle character to link it to the 2005 EAZA Shellshock campaign. The story focused on the quest of a turtle and a hornbill, who through help from the children in the audience work together to save their forest homes. Although based on the biological reality of the species and habitats of the characters, the storyline included a strong sense of wonder and fantasy, creating a magical world for the audience.

Realistic animal costumes were created and a pre-existing picnic lawn in the zoo was modified to make it suitable for a dramatic performance to take place. The style of the show was based around physical theatre and visual storytelling, with the performers dressed as colourful costume animal characters. Dynamic audience participation through actions, sounds and verbal response was used to encourage affective learning which research shows young children favour.

Evaluation was undertaken by a third party researcher and indicated that the show attracted an average audience size of 169 visitors, close to the carrying capacity of the lawn. 94% of visitors enjoyed the show and 86% of visitors were taking some kind of conservation message from the show. 

Developed by:  Chester Zoo - North of England Zoological Society


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