Negros Forests & Ecological Foundation, Inc. Sets Junior Zookeeper Workshop 2015

When I was a little girl, I remember seeing deer heads mounted on the wall of my grand-uncle's house in Bacolod. His sons were avid hunters, but I felt it was a cruel sport and thought it was quite distasteful to decorate your living room with the poor dead animals. Since I did not go to their house often, I never really thought about it until many years later when I read about the endangered Visayan white spotted deer that used to roam the Visayas region but now was indigenous only to Panay and Negros. It has been reported in 2009 that only about 300 of these beautiful animals have survived in Negros. Looking at the pictures, the images of those mounted deer heads flashed back in my mind and I realized that my uncles were among the many who are responsible for their severe drop in numbers.


photo credit: Robert Harland
The Visayan white spotted deer is now fully protected under Philippine Law and some have been spotted in the more remote areas in the mountains of Negros.  There are a few, one of which is shown in the picture at the right, that have been held in captivity by conservation groups like the Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation,Inc’s Biodiversity Conservation Center (NFEFI-BCC) in Bacolod City.  This foundation founded in 1984, is committed to reforest hundreds of hectares, and have established a breeding program of endangered species plus numerous biodiversity conservation, education and research projects.

photo credit: Robert Harland
In line with their mission/vision, The NFEFI-BCC is to stage another of its highly successful Junior Zookeeper Workshops. The workshop, to be held at the center's compound by the Capital Lagoon in Bacolod City from May 4 - 8, is designed to give a greater understanding and appreciation of Philippine wildlife and what it takes to be a zookeeper.

Classes will be from 1:30 to 4:30 pm daily, to be conducted by by NFEFI-BCC’s veterinarian, Dr. Joanne Justo. The course will be a mixture of interactive lectures, practical activities, games and hands-on experience in caring for endangered Philippine animals. They encourage problem solving, discussion and team work. The program aims towards having fun, but, at the same time, building an understanding of animals’ needs in the wild and in captivity. To make the most of the experience, slots are limited to a maximum of 21 participants.

Topics will include Philippine biodiversity, the role of zoos and breeding centers, bird, mammal and reptile biology, animal welfare, feeds and feeding behavior, environmental enrichment and tour guiding.

All participants of the course will receive a Junior Zookeeper certificate and the opportunity to enroll as a junior zoo volunteer.

The cost is Php2,000 for each participant and includes afternoon snacks, a workshop kit and a T-shirt.  All proceeds will be used for the upkeep of the many threatened birds and animals in NFEFI’s care.

To register or for further information, please call NFEFI on 034 433 9234.

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