Friday, 23 April 2010

National Lampoon’s Animal Road Trip

On Tuesday I returned to school for day 2 of my new career.. I think that the head teacher was a bit dubious of my claim to having received the okay to start, but I was there, the coach was there, the children were all there. It was zoo time.

I remember the days of black and white television, when the likes of Desmond Morris and Johnny Morris (no relation) had a weekly programme all about zoo animals. I think that it was called “Zoo Time”.

When we actually visited a zoo, it was a novelty to discover that many animals were not actually black and white, but that indeed, many animals, fish and birds were brightly coloured. I remember visiting London Zoo and Dudley Zoos as a child, and later on, Edinburgh Zoo.

The zoo that we were visiting turned out to be a 2 hour drive away, but despite the fact that the children on the bus ranged in age from 3 to 6 and a half years of age, they were far better behaved than my old CM2 class, who had only travelled one mile in a coach a week or so earlier.

I am not at all sure that the driver knew the route, as we ended up in a housing estate which had narrow roads and many mini roundabouts. I suspect that several of the latter are now slightly the worse for wear after our passing.

We arrived at the zoo and went down the wrong road. A tricky 3 point turn was carried out and we then turned left down the road that said Zoo entrance, but which also had lots of road works and No Entry signs dotted about.

We got to the car park and it was time for a pee-pee stop for those who could not wait any longer.

Our coach nicely blocked the entrance road to the drive through Wildlife Safari part of the zoo for the next 15 minutes.

We then set off again. The children looked out of the coach windows as we passed ostriches, zebras and other animals which were on my printed list, but the names were all in French and Latin. There was a lion and a lioness too. They appeared to be marooned on a small island. There was electric fencing all over the place.

We found ourselves back in the car park ready for phase two, the walk through zoo. We made our way to the sea lion pool, where a show “spectacle” was in progress. Four big sea lions one smallish pool. We joined other school children in the mini amphitheatre while a keeper put the sea lions through their paces to the accompaniment of very loud music and a hidden woman’s live commentary on the show.

After the show ended, we split into two groups. I was with the maternelle group with one teacher 21 teenies and 5 or 6 parents.

We made our way round animal cages, but most of the animals were hiding away. The chimpanzees were hiding their heads.

Enclosures were rather on the small side.

It was soon time for lunch and we made our way to the picnic tables. I had 6 teenies at my table and helped them open their food boxes, drink cartons etc.

The promised sun, failed to materialise and there was a biting wind. Hoods were put up and we continued to eat and drink, trying to stop food wrappers from flying away.

There were a few tears during the day, but the children were remarkably well behaved. They toddled round the enclosures on their little legs, not able to see much due to their small stature and the fact that the animals were flattened shapes on the ground.

One of the teachers had phoned the zoo earlier in the morning to check that the spectacle with the birds of prey would be taking place at 2.30pm. She was, assured that it would, so here are the children all sitting on the ground waiting for the show to start. 2.30 comes and goes. A teacher is dispatched to find out if the show is happening. She returns with the news that there is no 2.30 show, but that there will be one at 4.30, which is too late for us.
While they sit and wait, they sing a couple of French songs. If this were Britain, the songs would be "We shall not be moved", followed by chanting "What do we want? Birds of prey! When do we want it? Now!
We had another pause in the car park before setting off back to the school. I think that this was mainly because the coach driver had locked up the vehicle except for the side storage where all the rucksacks were, and was nowhere to be found.

The children sat in two big circles on the dusty ground and ate whatever food they had left until he eventually reappeared.
We took a different route back, leaving the side streets and mini roundabouts in peace, arriving back at 5.20pm. A long day for the little’uns.

Here is a clip all about a trip to the zoo

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