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Learning Continues


Becci showcasing the many adaptations of our panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis).

As many of you are aware Manchester Museum is about to embark on a major expansion entitled the Courtyard Project (subject to HLF funding), which will involve many changes to our teaching output over the next few years.

This will give us an exciting opportunity to develop new ideas and many new offers for the increased number of schools which will be visiting us from 2021.


Our most recent educational development ‘Rainforest Investigators – Adaptation and Survival’ has been a fantastic success. Focused on key stage 2 students and supported by the Vivarium’s live animals and the Museum’s extensive taxidermy collection, pupils are given the opportunity to develop and apply their scientific enquiry skills and knowledge of habitats and adaptations of some wonderful rainforest species. This program has drawn from the experience of all our staff here in the Vivarium, including our dedicated volunteers, some of whom have since started working here to help us deliver our educational workshops.

So although there will be a pause in proceedings, we will be working hard to produce even more exciting educational programs, building upon the success of our current offer. However, the show must go on and lots of work is currently being undertaken to provide more resources for self-led study in the Museum, with many ideas and resources now available through our website, and also the Learning blog, not to mention the Learning with Lucy booklets and videos which are free to access!


Kasia exploring the concepts of habitat destruction and extinction.

ACE day at ASE                             Learning with Lucy                               Volunteers


Zooming into ZIMS

Capture.jpgThis year we’re taking a big step in collection record keeping by uploading all of our records to the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS). ZIMS for husbandry is a widely used data collection system which allows keepers at any institution across the world to upload everything from when a specific animal (or group of animals) joins their collection, to permits, behavioral observations, medical history, treatments, and other valuable specimen information. In addition to being used as a detailed record log, this information is then transferable through ZIMS between institutions if an animal is relocated.

ZIMS allows for a full online life history of any animal in captivity, anywhere in the world. This is an exciting advancement for the vivarium collection and we look forward to being fully digitized very soon.

Digitally cataloging an entire collection however, is quite a task. Luckily for us, we have a highly valued/great team of volunteers at the vivarium that are an enormous help with inputting ZIMS data.

Volunteers, such as John (pictured), have begun collecting specific measurements such as weight and snout to vent length to add even more detail into the ZIMS system. We’re very grateful for this extra help as we work through digitally entering the entire collection. As they say, many hands make light frogs- erm, work!


ZIMS                   Volunteers

Pendlebury Pupils

Recently I had the pleasure of delivering another very special animal session to pupils from the Pendlebury Centre.  It was great to meet the staff again and conduct the session for all the pupils concerned, who were a wonderful group of young people and who really seemed to get such a lot from meeting our animals up close.  The Pendlebury Centre is one of three Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) for secondary aged students in Stockport.

The centre is outstanding in providing the necessary support needed by many young people. It provides full-time placements for 40 students with a variety of needs, and it was so good to support this visit to Manchester Museum. Thanks to all the staff and pupils for their enthusiasm and interest in our creatures  – and appreciating the benefits they can bring to all. We look very much look forward to your next visit!



New Year New Frogs


Lemur leaf frog helping with our record keeping (Agalychnis lemur) ©Matthew O’Donnell

Nothing quite brings in the new year like a group of newly metamorphosed baby Lemur leaf frogs (Agalychnis lemur)! These tiny froglets represent a new bloodline for the program studbook, which helps us manage the ever growing ex-situ population of this critically endangered species.

These fantastic little frogs were spawned last year and spent the next few months as tadpoles, on display in the Vivarium. They began to sprout legs and emerge from the water in November and have been growing rapidly on a varied diet of fruit flies and crickets, supplemented with extra vitamins and minerals.


Once these hungry little frogs get big enough they will be distributed between our partner organisations in Project Lemur Frog, Bristol Zoo and Nordens Ark. I have been lucky enough to visit the specialist facilities at both of these institutions and know just how well they will be looked after. Further securing the future for this fascinating frog.


A group of young Lemur leaf frogs (Agalychnis lemur) resting under a leaf ©Matthew O’Donnell

Every new frog born here at Manchester Museum is very special, and Lemur leaf frogs are no exception! I’m sure 2018 will be another great year for frog conservation here in the Vivarium, we will be sure to keep you up to date with all the exciting work we are involved in.

Project Report                      Frogs for the Ark

ACE day at ASE

Straight back into teaching after a great Christmas break, Amy McDowall and I conducted a session for international delegates at the The Annual Conference of the Association for Science Education (ASE) yesterday. This fabulous conference is currently taking place at Liverpool University and offers a unique opportunity for all teachers of science to develop practical ideas as well as providing a useful insight into some cutting-edge research.

Amy co-ordinates all our Primary learning at the Museum. She is super enthusiastic, and also being extremely organised kindly made all the arrangements for us to attend and contribute to this years conference programme, which runs over 4 days.  Yesterday was a great day for us both, not only being able to jointly contribute and meet like-minded delegates from far away as Australia, but also providing us with new ways of developing our animal-based science sessions back at the museum.

Two such programmes, our Rainforest Investigators and Habitat Explorers sessions for primary schools, we combined and showcased for the delegates yesterday – and had them fully participating in our sustainability and amphibian conservation-focused workshop. It went down very well and was enjoyed by all involved – and we are already looking forward to supporting this great event again in the future!

Further details of the conference session available soon: Learning Manchester Blog

ASE Conference

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from us all in the Vivarium at Manchester Museum! x

Last orders

Frogflyer_front copyStill thinking of what to give that hard to buy for person at Christmas?..

Perhaps Sponsoring a critically endangered frog on their behalf might be just the ticket!?

Lemur Frog Sponsorship also includes a quality book on Frogs and Toads of the World by Chris Mattison, and the opportunity for a behind the scenes vivarium visit, plus a special letter of thanks together with a limited edition print and conservation pack will be sent out directly to your person of choice!

Don’t miss the date –  last day for Frog Sponsorship this side of Christmas is 17th December!