Students' close encounter with zoo ranger program

"Fantastic," is how students from Canterbury Boys High School described their trip to Taronga Western Plains Zoo yesterday.

The zoo's Endanger Ranger education program has been extended to include inner Sydney schools following its success with more than 2200 Western Sydney school students completing the program.

Environment Minister Robyn Parker farewelled 45 Sydney high school students this week from the platform of Parramatta Railway Station as they travelled to the zoo to study wildlife and conservation.

The students are participating in a unique conservation education program called Endanger Ranger at the zoo which involves a sleep-over and encounters with reptiles, African rhinoceros and apes.

The Daily Liberal spotted student Hans Vikash participating in a giraffe encounter.

He said the trip to Dubbo was his first.

"It's great here, I love it, I love feeding the giraffes and the animals," he said.

"I've never fed a giraffe before."

Canterbury Boys High year advisor Roy Prasad said the train trip from Dubbo to Sydney had the boys a little restless, but it was worth the wait.

The teacher said emails had been exchanged with the zoo regarding the program and the school had readily taken the opportunity to participate.

"This is a really big deal for us, we do not get an opportunity like this ever and the boys are loving it," he said.

"I've been to Taronga back at home but there is a big difference between the two zoos, there is a lot more space here and it's a lot more personal because you're closer."

Mr Prasad said further trips to Taronga Zoo in Sydney were planned with the student's aiming to compare both environments.

The minister said the students were the first from the inner-Sydney region to undertake the NSW government's special program which aims to place 3300 year 8 students in Endanger Ranger across the next four months.

Students are introduced to life skills including leadership, group work, citizenship and sustainable practice as well as key areas of the curriculum, specifically in the science, HSIE and environmental science areas," Ms Parker said.

"This is good news for the NSW government as we're continuing to fulfil a promise to people in Sydney that students there will get access to conservation education opportunities utilising one of NSW's great zoos."

Ms Parker said the program began 16 months ago in Western Sydney and was extended last year to include inner Sydney schools.

Since the program began on October 17, 2011, a total 2235 students and 234 teachers have undertaken the wildlife studies at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

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