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Paignton Zoo’s half term event proves that zoos aren’t all about exotic species.

The Zoo is launching a season dedicated to native species. It’s called Nearby Nature and it begins this half term with a trail of 18 things to do outside, both at the Zoo and at home.

Paignton Zoo spokesperson Phil Knowling said: “It’s a great mix of the obvious and the surprising, the serious and the fun. We want to help people discover the natural world right outside their doors. Come to Paignton Zoo, learn more about native animals and plants and find out what you can do to help them.”

Ideas range from shutting your eyes and listening to the natural soundscape around you to doing a quick count of nearby native species. Number three on the trail is hug a tree. Phil again: “Paignton Zoo has a stand of redwood trees near the zebra enclosure – it would be fun to see how many people it takes to reach all the way around!”

There are suggestions for things to do at home: go into your garden at night, build a bug hotel, create a compost heap, put up bird feeders, build a log pile for mini beasts, help bees, for example.

Other suggestions are a little wild and should probably be attempted only by younger people - climb like a dormouse, go outside and get dirty at every opportunity, feel the grass between your toes… Phil: “My favourite is number 11 - look up at the trees. If you look at a tree, you feel better, simple as that!”

So this half term when you visit Paignton Zoo, ignore the tigers, turn your back on the giraffes and go native!

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