The Reptile Conservation Zoo, Ireland’s only zoo that showcases over 50 unique species of reptiles and amphibians, has launched a nationwide search for a Junior Conservation Hero. The search aims to find young people from primary school upwards who are interested in all things animals and nature.

Through education, the Reptile Conservation Zoo is hoping to draw attention to the rapid rate of extinction that is wiping out many unique species across the planet. At present, as many as 20% of the world’s 7-15 million species could be gone within 30 years. This rate of extinction is unprecedented since the disappearance of dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

Over 10,000 species have become extinct in the past 100 years due to human activity and at present one in three amphibians and almost half of all turtles and tortoises are threatened with extinction. Every 20 minutes, the world adds another 3,500 human lives but loses one or more entire species of animal or plant life, at least 27,000 species per year.

James Hennessy, Herpetologist, Adventurer and Director of The Reptile Conservation Zoo explains “We are hoping this campaign will create awareness and education about conservation. I have travelled across the world on many conservation expeditions and education with children is key to preserving many of the earth’s unique species. There is little awareness in Ireland about the topic and we hope that we will find some passionate young Conservation Heroes who will assist us in our mission.”

From a crocodile in a swamp in South America to a fox in South Dublin conservation is an integral aspect of the dependence of humans and animals which is evident in our surroundings. Young people across Ireland are being urged to submit pictures and drawings of the everyday animals and nature they encounter.  A regional winner will be chosen from each county where they will have the opportunity to become a Zoo Keeper for a day.

From this, ‘Ireland’s Conservation Hero’ will be crowned. The lucky winner will receive a Year’s Family Pass to the Reptile Conservation Zoo and a ‘Zoo to You’ experience for their school or club.

As part of the Reptile Zoo’s ‘Conservation through Education’ Programme, they operate a unique mobile demonstration unit that offers children the opportunity to have the zoo visit schools, birthdays and other special occasions. Participants have the opportunity to see and hold rare species of reptiles and amphibians such as pythons, caiman crocodiles and monitor lizard.

‘Zoo To You’ is an educational opportunity that benefits class rooms, lecture halls, scout halls, libraries, corporate days and private functions. Entries for the ‘Junior Conservation Hero’ can be submitted to / by post to ‘Junior Conservation Hero, Reptile Zoo Conservation, Demesne Road, Gowran, Co. Kikenny

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