Wednesday 13 February 2013

An Evening with...

A great evening had by all
On Friday the 8th February we hosted the first of our “Evening with...” events. They’re an opportunity for our visitors to hear all about the zoo’s activities from the senior staff whilst enjoying good food and great music.

This event was, “An Evening with Benjamin Mee” and focused on the recent history of the zoo looking at what projects we have underway and what to expect in 2013.

Head Keeper, Mike Downman (standing in for Curator, Colin Northcott currently recovering from a recent operation) got things underway with an entertaining rundown on all the animal comings and goings. He dealt admirably with the difficult task of covering the recent loss of two of our most iconic residents, Ben the European Brown Bear and more recently, Solomon the African Lion.

These major characters have played an important role in the life of the zoo and their loss is keenly felt by staff and visitors alike.

Mike also had plenty of good news such as the arrival of lots of baby Lechwe Antelope, African Pygmy Goats and more recently, meerkats as well as the touching story of bay tapir, Luta. He also brought everyone up-to-date with recent important additions to the collection including the introduction of Iberian Wolves and Grants Zebra.

Entertainment for the evening was provided by Frankie Canale-Dow, a local singer who is gathering notoriety whilst she volunteers and studies for her Extended Diploma in Animal Management here at DZP with Bicton College. She was accompanied by Gary Platts on guitar with whom she’d been working diligently over the previous weeks to learn and rehearse many new songs. They both put on a great performance roundly appreciated by the audience.

Between the main course and dessert, Conservation and Research Officer, Adam Cook gave a presentation illustrating the import contribution we make in these fields. With the help of a volunteer from the audience he was able to bring more than a little humour to what might otherwise be considered a rather dry subject. Conservation and research activities are crucial activities in the day-to-day life of a modern zoo which often go unnoticed by the visitor so we were thrilled to see just how the enthusiastic reception from the audience highlighted the value of this kind of event.

Benjamin signing copies of We Bought a Zoo
After dessert it was time for Zoo Director, Benjamin Mee to give his presentation. He took the opportunity to take the audience back to the earliest days of the Dartmoor Zoo story from the very real struggle it was to actually buy the zoo, through the drama of the jaguar escape, meeting Matt Damon and Scarlet Johansson, right up to the most recent events and future plans.

In a lively Q&A, members of the audience had the chance to quiz Ben on his talk and highlight areas of personal interest.

To close proceedings Ben kindly signed copies of, “We Bought a Zoo” and posed for photographs with the guests.

All in all, the event was a resounding success with many of the guests keen to know when the next event would be.

On 12th April we’ll be hosting, “The History of Man’s Fascination with Animal Captivity.”

UP-DATE: You can find full up-to-date details on the event here.

Presentation Team Supervisor, Emma Baker will be giving a fascinating talk illustrating the history of animal captivity from the earliest Egyptian menageries designed to enhance the status of the pharaohs through the golden age of imperial collections to the modern day zoological collection and its focus on conservation, education and research. It’s a unique opportunity to see how and why attitudes have changed over the years whilst the fascination remains the same.

Curator, Colin Northcott will then draw on his 25 years of personal experience to give a modern history of life as a zoo keeper including some truly hair-raising stories of all-too-close-encounters with large captive carnivores.

Once again, places are limited so for further information and booking, contact Naomi today.

If all that is still not enough to tempt you to join us, here are some very kind comments from the audience for, “An Evening with Benjamin Mee.”
“A big thank you to Benjamin and the rest of the staff for an absolutely fantastic evening on Friday night! The atmosphere was fantastic and I loved every second of it.” - Dawn Loxham
“Just wanted to thank everyone at Dartmoor Zoo for a lovely night last night. We got our books signed and really enjoyed the presentations from all the speakers. Meeting Benjamin was an absolute delight. He's a real inspiration and a very genuine person with amazing qualities and a fighting spirit. Thanks again for giving us the opportunity to be a part of the evening, we hope to come back and visit you all again soon.” - Emma Matthews
“What a great evening last night. So interesting and good food. Glad to see it was so well supported. To top it off, as we got into our car outside the main house, a real rumble from one of the big cats. Thanks guys.” - Amanda Mabley
“Great Evening. Thanks all, lovely to meet you, especially Ben .” - Godoartist
“Great evening at the zoo this evening. Thanks for organising...let's do it again sometime!” - Lindsay Brown
“Had a great evening @DartmoorZoo last night with #BenjaminMee. He gives me great strength and hope and is a true inspiration to me. “ - @EmmasPlanet
“Last night was brilliant! Thank you for such an enjoyable evening.” - @APieceofCake7
“Just home from a great inspirational evening @DartmoorZoo. Interesting talks from the keepers, good food and a chat with the man himself!“ - @onlyloupigs
“Please thank everyone for a great evening. We learnt a lot about behind the public scenes. Must look up some of the animals mentioned.” - @pakafe
“Adam Cook @DartmoorZoo has helped me realise just how important the behind the scenes work this zoo does is to other zoos and the animals.” - @TraumaCleaning
“I had such an amazing time meeting Benjamin Mee last night, from Dartmoor Zoo. He's truly inspirational.“ - @APieceofCake7
“Great night at Dartmoor Zoo's ‘An Evening with Benjamin Mee’ Thank you all at DZP.” - @mazhome
Contact Naomi today for information and booking.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great event! I'm 3/4 of the way through "We Bought a Zoo" and am enjoying it very much. I live in USA but heard about your story when they were making the movie and I said to my wife that I remembered the original Dartmoor Wildlife Park as I lived just nearby, at Ivybridge for a while. I also worked at the Tesco at Lee Mill that is mentioned in the book, while I was going to college in Plymouth. Hoping to come over and visit the Zoological Park one day soon. All the best for 2013!