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Aug 12, 2006

Stick Your Neck Out for Tortlepins

Stick your neck out for tortlepins from Bristol Zoo Gardens  
An innovative programme to raise awareness of zoo visitors to the plight of tortoises, terrapins and turtles

Bristol Zoo raised awareness of the turtle and tortoise crisis through a site-wide, family-friendly campaign, ‘Stick your neck out for tortlepins’ that ran from spring to autumn 2005.

We ran a variety of fun activities that aimed to initially engage and inspire visitors about terrific tortlepins, from voting for Miss Tortlepin to meeting real tortoises courtesy of the British Chelonia Group (BCG). Visitors were also encouraged to be creative by designing shell patterns, making sock puppets and singing rhymes in the daily workshop.

The threats facing tortlepins were described through a number of prize trails and challenges. Visitors pulled out bad holiday souvenirs from a big suitcase and children joined a ‘turtle watch’ and patrolled for threats on our artificial beach area. We were also keen to highlight the positives and so we told stories about Bristol Zoo’s related conservation work through a daily scheduled talk and character-based trails in the Reptile House.

We strived to enable our visitors so that they felt able to contribute to tortlepin conservation. The enabling messages highlighted the importance of being a responsible consumer of souvenirs and pets, and keeping turtles’ beaches safe and clean.

Around a third of all zoo visitors visited the main base for tortlepin activities during the summer and 2,800 visitors voted for their favourite tortlepin. We also raised around £800 for Bristol Zoo’s tortlepin field conservation. Evaluation shows that live interpretation significantly improved the likelihood of visitors picking up messages and the activities increased visitors’ awareness of tortlepins.

Developed by:  Bristol Zoo Gardens


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