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Soweto kids celebrate World Habitat Day at the Joburg Zoo

Scores of learners from three primary schools in Soweto had the time of their lives on Monday October 31 when they visited the Johannesburg Zoo – many of them for the first time – to mark, belatedly, World Habitat Day courtesy of Johannesburg City Parks & Zoo (JCP&Z).

World Habitat Day is celebrated on the first Monday of October to reflect on the environmental state of the world’s cities, towns and villages. JCP&Z also uses the occasion to make children conscious of their environment and to teach them about the various habitats in the zoo.

But for the learners of Khulanolwazi Primary School in Braamfischerville, Sibongile Primary School in Senaoane and Basani Primary School in Chiawelo, the one-month delay of the celebrations – caused by difficulties the organisers encountered while trying to sychronise the three schools’ diaries – was not a big deal. They seemed to enjoy every minute of it.

For Asanda Hempe, 12, a Grade 6 learner at Khulanolwazi Primary School, this was her first visit to the zoo. 
“I had never been to the zoo before and when I was told we would be coming here I got very excited,” said Asanda.

She said she did not only get to see the animals but she also learnt a lot about the different places they lived in.
“Today I got to learn more about wetlands. I always see them in many places but didn’t know what their purpose was. But now I know it’s where frogs and stocks call home,” remarked Asanda.

JCP&Z’s Sophia Mtshali said it was a special day for the entity as it marked the beginning of a relationship with stationery company Pentel, which donated a canvas for the zoo’s Education Centre.

“We’re very happy as Johannesburg Zoo to receive such a wonderful gift. This is going to be beneficial to the kids who visit us,” said Mtshali, who added that the zoo understood the importance of contributing to children’s development and growth.

Khulanolwazi Primary School teacher Phindiwe Magaya said she was truly grateful to the City of Johannesburg for making the children’s dream of visiting the zoo a reality.

“We’re happy to have been chosen to undertake this educational tour, during which learners had the opportunity to engage with animal keepers and ask questions about the various animal species,” said Magaya.

She said 20 learners from her school were chosen to be part of the celebrations.

Pentel Managing Director Ted Shinoda said when the company was approached to be part of World Habitat Day celebrations, he knew it would be a great opportunity to promote education.

“This will give us the platform to contribute to creativity and arts. We’re grateful to the City for giving us the opportunity to be involved in this project,” said Shinoda.​