Anyone who has been to the Festival of Nature in recent years will know that the Bristol Zoo tent is always one of the highlights; packed with interesting species, fun games and hands on activities. So with the Festival less than a month away, we caught up with Claudy Fox, Senior Education Officer at Bristol Zoo Gardens to find out what we can look forward to in 2015.
What have you got planned for this year’s festival?
Following the arrival of Big Bugs at Bristol Zoo, we’re going bug-crazy at BFON and the theme of our tent is the superpowers of bugs. After visiting our tent you can expect to come away with a new love and appreciation for bugs and the jobs that they do. It’s going to be a fun tent packed full of things to see and do for both children and adults. You can follow a bug willow sculpture trail, dress up like a bug, play ‘lucky dip’ and our new ladybird game.
We’d like you to join us in being superheroes for bugs so you can help us build a giant bug hotel, and take a pledge to create a patch for bugs in your garden. As usual, our gardeners will be providing us with a bevy of plants not just so our tent looks fantastic, but so we can show you how to help bugs in your garden.
Any plans to bring more creepy-crawlies?
Oh yes, but they’re anything but creepy. Our favourites – the hissing cockroaches, giant land snails and giant thorny stick insects will be making an appearance. For the first time we are putting together a wormery especially for the event so that you can see how efficient worms are at composting. We hope you’ll have a truly memorable experience by meeting our small but remarkable live animals.
What is your favourite Festival of Nature moment from previous years?
I love those moments that usually come in the afternoon, where I have a moment to pause and reflect on how the day has been so far- having fun with smiley visitors, the great questions that keep us on our toes, pulling together as a team to get a beautiful tent up together and running well. If I’m really lucky I get a break to walk around in the sunshine with an ice-cream to see all of the other wonderful exhibits, and feel part of something really special.
What else are you looking forward to at this year’s event?
Well there are some really impressive names at the talks tent like Bill Oddie and George McGavin so it would be great to see at least one of the talks over the weekend. I’d also love to see my toddler’s face when she sees Cbeebies’ Andy Day in the flesh, though I’m not sure if it will be her or me that will be more star-struck! Other interesting bits which sound intriguing include cow onesies and glitter in the University tent, rock pools and ponds in the Wild Waters and Marine tents, and the My Wild City starter boxes which sound like they could even inspire the most reluctant conservationist.
What else does Bristol Zoo have planned this summer?
Bugs is a theme continuing in the Zoo too. Thirteen huge and incredibly life-like animatronic Big Bugs have made the Zoo their home for six months this summer, bringing bug-tastic larger than life fun and excitement. The new residents include some of the world’s most popular species, such as the seven-spot ladybird, Mexican red kneed tarantula, Say’s firefly and the red-tailed bumble bee, all of which are brought to life using state-of-the-art technology and animatronics. This unique, free exhibition offers budding Bug Rangers, old and young, the chance to get up-close to amazing, moving, hissing, and even water-spraying bugs.
We also have a new walkthrough exhibit called the Wallaby Walkabout which transports guests to the Australian Outback; this brilliant immersive experience allows guests to get up-close to two species of wallabies and a flock of exotic birds.