Seven alternatives to zoos this summer

By Saul Greenland, marketing manager Responsible Travel

Schools are out and the start of the school summer vacations is well underway! It’s a perfect time to inspire your family. You will be surprised what is just on your door step. If you are looking to inspire your family, you do not need to pack your machete and jungle boots. These are just but a few alternatives to zoos; family experiences for your own wild animals.

1. The Wildlife Trusts
England has a surprising abundance of wildlife right on the doorstep. The Wildlife Trusts have created their ‘top UK favourite wildlife experiences’. They also run sessions for families which include reptile surveying, humpback whale searches and moth identification evenings. Importantly, all the money goes into conservation, rather than just 3% contributed by the average zoo.

2. Wildlife trips close to home
Chris Packham has previously said that the rarest sight in the British countryside is a child. Conservationists have argued that it is only when children immerse themselves in nature that they will care for it. Go on a local wildlife hunt and visit your local nature reserve. The cost per day will also be much less than family entrance to a zoo.

3. European wildlife trips that won’t break the bank
This Swedish family wilderness vacation offers the chance to see moose, beavers and other wild animals from €599 and children aged eight to15 years old go half price. See our Sweden family ecolodge vacation

Wolf
Moose
Wolf and moose. Photos by Wild Sweden.

4. iZoo
Although not available in time for this summer’s school vacations, Responsible Travel has recently written to Tim Cook of Apple to suggest the idea of developing an iZoo for the future. Rather than looking at animals through bars, with Virtual Reality (VR) visitors could join them in their own worlds instead of caging them in ours. VR will immerse people in wild habitats, inform us about real life behaviours and deliver a better education into conservation than existing zoos.

iZoo submarine concept
izoo conference
iZoo concept art. Illustrations by Lisa Joanes.

With no animals held in captivity, iZoo is also a more humane way to raise funds for conservation. The running costs will be a fraction of today’s zoos and allow for a 10% donation of revenues to field conservation projects.

5. Imax cinema, London’s South Bank
Imax uses 3D to deeply immerse audiences into exotic, wild places. As an example, a screening called ‘Under The Sea’ will whisk you to Southern Australia, New Guinea and Indo-Pacific with “face-to-face encounters with some of the most mysterious and stunning creatures of the sea”. Not an aquarium in sight!

6. Museums
Museums are at the heart of education and have inspired children for years. The Natural History Museum in London is completely free - a special, captivating place to educate all ages. Most cities will have a natural history museum that employs Museum Educators to make learning fun.

7. Blow the budget
Go all out with some of these wildlife experiences:

Costa Rica family vacation
Visit one of the greatest biodiversity hotspots from £1995.

Costa Rica family holiday

Madagascar family vacation
Experience the world’s most evolutionary distinct wildlife from £2395.

Madagascar family holiday

Family luxury safari and beach vacation, South Africa and Mozambique
A once in a lifetime vacation to see the big five in their natural habitat from £3235.

South Africa and Mozambique family holiday
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