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Archive for the ‘Educational Farm News’ Category

In Red November, help Gladys and her family

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Red November Logo

Gladys, our elderly but stubborn African Spurred Tortoise, (Sulcata) is part of a red list family classified as vulnerable. That does not mean she is in constant need of counselling by the shelled equivalent of a shrink, but that her family in the wild is in need of protection. 


They live in the Sahara dessert and surrounding grasslands and climate change is having a major impact on their habitat, plus illegal collection for sale as exports of these increasingly rare creatures are now banned. Also their quality of life in private collections can be appalling as they need large open grassy areas in which to graze.

So admire Gladys and her mates and find out more as to how YOU can make a positive impact on conservation and wildlife collections.

Species Loss Worse than first thought.

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

On the What’s New Pages of our website you will find news on Palm Oil production and the impact of this on the environment. Now the entire issue has been put into context because, as BBC News Reports, the global loss of species is even worse than previously thought, our BIAZA colleagues from the London Zoological Society (ZSL) says in its new Living Planet Index.
The report suggests populations have halved in 40 years, as new methodology gives more alarming results than in a report two years ago.
The report says populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by an average of 52%. Populations of freshwater species have suffered an even worse fall of 76%.
Compiling a global average of species decline involves tricky statistics, often comparing disparate data sets – and some critics say the exercise is not statistically valid. The Living Planet Index tracks more than 10,000 vertebrate species populations from 1970 to 2010. The team at the zoological society say they’ve improved their methodology since their last report two years ago – but the results are even more alarming. Then they estimated that wildlife was down “only” around 30%. Whatever the numbers, it seems clear that wildlife is continuing to be driven out by human activity.

The society’s report, in conjunction with the pressure group WWF, says humans are cutting down trees more quickly than they can re-grow, harvesting more fish than the oceans can re-stock, pumping water from rivers and aquifers faster than rainfall can replenish them, and emitting more carbon than oceans and forests can absorb.
It catalogues areas of severe impact – in Ghana, the lion population in one reserve is down 90% in 40 years. In West Africa, forest felling has restricted forest elephants to 6-7% of their historic range.
Globally, habitat loss and hunting have reduced tigers from 100,000 a century ago to just 3,000. In the UK, the government promised to halt wildlife decline – but bird numbers continue to fall.

The index tracks more than 10,000 vertebrate species populations from 1970 to 2010. It reveals a continued decline in these populations. The global trend is not slowing down.
The report shows that the biggest recorded threat to biodiversity comes from the combined impacts of habitat loss and degradation, driven by what WWF calls unsustainable human consumption.

What do you remember about your group visit?

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

We always love to receive photos and drawings from school and nursery groups showing what they enjoyed most about their day at the farm, and were particularly struck by the drawing below from Bright Stars Nursery as clearly the Caterpillar Roller Coaster had the biggest impact! We absolutely love this sketch and wanted to share it with you!

Bright Stars


However to balance this we also show some of our much loved farmyard friends with photos taken by our volunteer Dylan, one of our invaluable team you will find helping around our animal attraction during school holidays and every weekend. First, our ducks!



Now the loveable piglets, part Kune Kune with their not so Micro Pig mum.


You can find more of Dylan’s photos of your farmyard friends on our main website under What’s New and we will be adding more over the next few weeks too! However why not come down and add your own, and also send in your school sketches too and get them onto our website!

Delighted to support Janet Duke Primary’s eco initiative.

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Whilst the Education World mourns the loss of Michael Gove as Secretary of State (well, someone must be sorry) we at Old Macdonald’s Farm ponder on the type of education that excites children and encourages them to take a wide view of the world and prepare for the future. Just taking SATS and sciences does not broaden the mind and when Old Macdonald ponders the many changes in his long, and not so illustious, life he thinks that what children need perhaps more than “learning” is the ability and passion to keep learning all through their lives. And of course he believes they need to have a passion for conservation, the environment and of course the natural world.

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That was why, earlier this year, he was entranced by the email below:

“My name is Laura Retigan and I am the Eco Schools co-ordinator at Janet Duke Primary School. Three years ago we started introducing animals to our school to help give the children a sense of responsibility and enjoyment as well as enhancing the eco and science curriculum. We now have 13 chickens, 7 guinea pigs, 8 rabbits and 2 tortoises. We have rescued all of our rabbits and tortoises.

I have a small group of children called the eco captains who are the main caregivers to the animals and give up every break and lunchtime to feed, water, clean out and care for the animals. They have learnt a lot about the diet of the animals and how best to care for them. The children have also taken part in a daytime ITV programme called Auf Weidersehen My Pet which was a rehoming programme. The children really impressed the crew and a small animal advisor from Wood Green animal sanctuary which resulted in the owner of four guinea pigs choosing to rehome her pets at our school.

The majority of the Eco Captains are in Year 6 and only have a term until they go to secondary school. They have worked tirelessly since they were in year 4 with the animals and I would really like to arrange a special treat for them before they leave. I was wondering whether it would be possible to arrange for the children to come to Old Macdonald’s Farm to shadow a worker for a day or part of a day? They would really enjoy this experience but I also think it would be beneficial for them as some of the children have expressed an interest in working with animals when they are older. They can also bring back anything they learn and implement it with their own animals at school.”

Now how could he say no? Well, easily really as he can be a miserable whatsit from time to time, but he most certainly did not and therefore on 17th June the Eco Captains came and with the superb help as always of our volunteers Natasha and Daniel we took them away from the rabbits and into the pigs, the owls and even the Meerkat enclosure. They were a wonderful group and we hope they all come with their families to visit us again, and that Janet Duke school and their imaginative staff and superb pupils come again next year!

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If your school wants to visit the farm for a special day out, just let us know!



Join our queue so you save Kew.

Saturday, April 26th, 2014



Old Macdonald was shocked to learn that globally important conservation and science under threat at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew due to government cuts – £5M deficit will lead to loss of over 120 posts. Therefore he asks you to read this and sign the on line petition to which it links.

The UK Government need to urgently reverse the existing cuts to Kew’s annual operating grant in aid funding, and to cancel the proposed and any further future cuts.

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, with sites at KewGardens, London and Wakehurst Place, Sussex is a world-leader in conservation and botanical science, with over 250 years of historical excellence in these fields.

Never before has Kew faced such a significant threat to its future. It now needs your help to ensure its globally-important plant and fungal collections can continue to be used to support plant and fungal science and conservation around the world.


In 1983, 90 per cent of Kew’s funding came from the UK Government as grant in aid. The current amount has dropped to below 40 per cent as of this year. Funding was reduced by £0.9M in 2009-10, £1M in 2010-11, and by an extra £0.5M year-on-year thereafter

Kew has now been told to expect further cuts of at least another £1.5M before the end of 2016.

Under the 1983 National Heritage Act, the UK Government committed to ensure that Kew is adequately resourced to fulfil its statutory obligations, which include: research; providing advice and education; plant-related services including quarantine; caring for world-renowned scientific collections, as national reference collections available for study; and as a resource for the public to gain knowledge and enjoy. The UK Government is no longer fulfilling its role to allow Kew to meet these obligations.


Kew has been dramatically increasing income from non-government funding streams through the work of their partner charity Kew Foundation, and via commercially-generated income, consultancy work, and research funding. Although there are plans to extend these efforts, they are no longer able to keep up with the rate of cuts in government funding and many areas of Kew’s work are not easily resourced externally.

Due to the cuts, Kew has announced that with a £5M deficit for this year, over 120 posts will be axed. The majority of posts will be lost in the areas of science and public engagement. In specialist careers measured in decades of experience, Kew will lose dedicated, expert staff, and whole areas of work are likely to be halted.



As Sir David Attenborough was recently quoted as saying:

“Kew has an absolutely crucial role in looking after our botanical heritage and our botanical future. The important thing to remember is that it is the premiere botanical gardens in the world scientifically. People who think it is just a place to go to look at pretty flowers and flower beds are mistaking the importance of Kew Gardens. The Seed Bank is of world importance and it should be supported by the Government like a proper institution or university and the continuing idea that Kew Gardens is merely a playground and that you just put up the prices to look after it is a misguided assessment of the value of Kew. The Government and the scientific departments should recognise that and support it properly.” 

Please show your support for Kew, and their continuing work for future generations, by signing the online petition you can find on

 and please encourage others to do the same.