Twycross Zoo unveils UK’s first Gruffalo Discovery Land, to inspire next generation of conservationists
Leading conservation charity, Twycross Zoo, has announced that a multi-million pound major new development, The Gruffalo Discovery Land, will open this spring, in a UK first.
The new, four-acre land is located in the heart of England at Twycross Zoo and brings together the much-loved characters, from best-selling children’s book The Gruffalo created by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, and a conservation organisation that exists to protect wildlife, preserve endangered species and educate the next generation on the importance of protecting our planet.
Twycross Zoo’s aim for this ground-breaking experience, developed in partnership with The Gruffalo brand owners Magic Light Pictures, is to inspire more children than ever before about the importance of conservation and the natural world. With real-life animals, animatronics, film clips and much more, visitors to The Gruffalo Discovery Land at Twycross Zoo can encounter Fox, Snake, Owl, Mouse and the Gruffalo along their interactive journey through the Deep Dark Wood.
The announcement comes following research by Twycross Zoo that reveals over three quarters of children, as young as four, have a good or extensive understanding of extinction or endangered animals. However, when it comes to the solution, only 16% have a strong understanding of how conservation efforts could help to tackle climate change, showing that more needs to be done to educate the next generation on how they can help to protect our planet.
65% of parents believe that the less time children spend outdoors, the less they appreciate wildlife and nature, and 85% of parents feel that imaginary characters from books, such as The Gruffalo, have a positive impact on children’s understanding of conservation, and play an important role in encouraging their children to care about wildlife.
Dr Sharon Redrobe OBE, CEO of Twycross Zoo said: “We hope to spark the imaginations of our youngest visitors about the wonders of nature in this most engaging and interactive way. Even small actions can, collectively, have a big impact on the future health of our planet – and every young person can play their part.
“The arrival of The Gruffalo Discovery Land moves us closer to achieving our 2030 Vision to become a European Centre of Excellence for conservation. This brand-new immersive experience will educate more young children than ever before and increase their understanding of the vital role that they will play to ensure our planet thrives in the future.”
Commenting on the survey results, child psychologist Professor Sam Wass added, “The climate emergency, conservation and extinction are all huge topics for young children to comprehend, but it is more important than ever that they share an understanding of these issues and what we can all do to make a difference, even from the earliest age.
“With the research also demonstrating that spending time outdoors is vital for their imagination, engaging with young children through the use of familiar characters like the Gruffalo is a great way to bring them along on a journey that not only provides a fun and memorable experience, but helps to engage them on these vital issues in an appropriate way.”
Twycross Zoo was founded in 1963, with the ultimate goal of conserving some of the most endangered species on the planet and educating the next generation on conservation. Twycross Zoo usually sees 650,000 visitors to its 100-acre site in Leicestershire, including 60,000 school children each year. The Gruffalo Discovery Land at Twycross Zoo will open in Spring 2022.