BGCI Education Blog

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Sunday, 13 January 2008

Mini Madagascar and plants in the zoo

A little while ago I received a package from Roger Graf, the head of education at Zurich Zoo. He had read the issue of Roots on Botanic Gardens and Zoos (Roots 1:2 Botanic gardens and zoos; synergies for the future) and was interested in the role that zoos and zoo educators can, and do, play for plant conservation. He sent me the very attractive and interesting guidebook to their new Masoala Rainforest exhibition, a partnership project between Zurich Zoo and the Parc National Masoala in Madagascar, a real hotspot for biodiversity.

The guidebook is extremely attractive, with fold out maps of the exhibition and the area of Madagascar it is based on, information about the national park, rainforests and the conservation issues facing the country, plus details on the development of the new exhibition. The main body of the guide is on the plants of the rainforest - illustrated within the exhibition. Each species has a lovely illustration, description including physiological, evolutionary, historical and ethnobotanical information and portrait including range, relatives and economic utility. There are numerous colour photos throughout, with text boxes describing recipes and cultural details to bring the rainforest to life.

Further sections describe the animal exhibits within the mini Masoala Rainforest and outline what can be done to help conserve the rainforest.

The book is a lovely example of how a guidebook can be extended, to provide so much more than information about a given exhibition, but become an introduction to an ecosystem, its importance and threats and the organisms within it. More information about Zurich's Masoala Rainforest can be found on their website and the guidebook can be ordered through their online shop.

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