Each year the Russian Tula Exotarium zoo participates in EAZA conservation campaigns. The Tula Exotarium held a cross-country race for the first time during the Year of the Frog (in 2008), and since then, in line with the topics covered by EAZA campaigns, a ‘Carnivore cross-country race’ and ‘Ape cross-country race’ were organized. This year the Tula Exotarium organized, following the Southeast Asia Campaign, the ‘Tropical cross-country race’.
A cross-country race includes both sportive and educational elements. During the preparatory stage schoolchildren get acquainted with endangered Southeast Asian species and they need to design the names and symbols of their teams. Among the teams were the following: The Monitor-lizards, The Philippine eagles, Tropicana and The Peacocks. Nine teams from schools of different districts of the city took part in the race. The first lap of the cross-country race includes the presentation of the teams, their names, emblems and slogans. The team with the most interesting and creative presentation gets awarded the highest number of points. The second lap is an intellectual competition during which the teams need to answer questions about Southeast Asia’s biodiversity.
The third lap is the ‘Tropical relay race’; this is the most challenging part of the entire race. During the relay race several tasks had to be completed: ‘Saving the Saola’ (finding and rescuing the Saola from a basket), ‘Pangolin’s tricks’ (running with three large balls), ‘Monitor-lizard running’, ‘Echidna care’ (hiding ‘eggs’, small balls, from one burrow into another) and the ‘Peacocks’ defile’ (running with a tail).Upon completion of the race the winners received letters of gratitude and gifts from the organizers and sponsors of the cross-country race. The cross-country race was advertised on local radio and newspapers. Banners and posters, various leaflets and booklets were distributed at public places in the city. Each participant of the cross-country race received a badge with the campaign logo that offered free admission to the zoo.
Tula Exotarium plans to organize more Southeast Asia campaign events later this year. Even though Tula Exotarium is non-EAZA member zoo they put a lot of effort and resources into organizing valuable campaign related activities and events. Other non-EAZA organisations are welcome to join the campaign too, please visit the campaign website.