Here are some animal lover activities for the animal lover in your family these holidays. Places to visit, research ideas, find these and other activities in our article.

School Holidays are a great time to indulge your child’s interests and let them do some special things that are a bit out of the ordinary. If you have an animal lover in your family, then there are plenty of things to see and do which will really put a smile on their face. Either choose a couple of really special activities, or put aside a whole day to enjoy some animal antics. Here are some great ideas to get you started.

What’s in a job?

If your child is a real animal lover, then chances are they’ve already set their sights on being a zoo keeper or a veterinarian when they grow up, but there are all sorts of other jobs that also involve working with animals. Why not do a bit of research, and organise for your child to go behind the scenes for an hour or so.

Pet groomers, blind dog trainers, jockeys and breeders are all animal jobs with a bit of a twist, but even helping out at a pet shop for an hour would be a real education. If you’re lucky enough to live near a zoo or an animal park, then you can probably purchase a ‘Behind the Scenes Tour’, and trust me – it will be a tour they truly remember!

Being a Police Dog Handler is one job that really captures a child’s attention, and with enough notice, the Police are usually quite happy to come out and talk to a group of children about what they do. You’ll have to gather a few families together to make it work, but I’m sure if you ask around you’ll get some willing participants without too much trouble. Making a donation to the Police DARE programme is nice way of saying “Thanks”. (This is a youth education programme run by the NZ Police, and is about empowering children to make sensible choices surrounding drug and alcohol issues – you can find out more at www.dare.org.nz).

Have a Heart

Take your older children to your local SPCA or animal shelter and spend a few hours helping out. Once your child experiences volunteering, they may decide it is something they can do on a regular basis. If your child is too young to volunteer, or for other reasons it is too difficult, take a trip to the shelter with a few cans of pet food.

Did you see that?

Everyday animals can seem pretty incredible when seen outside of their normal context. Find out if your local kennel club is having a competition during the holidays, and take your child along to watch. Without a doubt, your child will be amazed by the ‘stunts’ these dogs can perform, and it may even inspire them to start training your own dog. You can find a contact number for the Kennel Club by phoning the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Race or Show Jumping Day is another fun event, and in New Zealand a race course is never too far away. Over the last few years, Racing Clubs have been trying hard to promote race day as a family day out, and there’s usually lots of fun activities for children who may not be quite so interested in the races themselves.

Your Own “Zoo” Visit

If you’re lucky enough to live within driving distance of a zoo or animal park, then by all means pack a picnic and spend the day. However, if there are no animal parks near by, there are plenty of other places you can go to create your own “zoo” experience.

More and more garden centres have aquariums as a part of their outdoor feature, and aviaries are also becoming more common. Parks and reserves often have fish and ducks to feed, or take a trip to the pet shop. Even domestic pets take on a whole new level of attraction when there are lots and lots in one place.

Help Out the Neighbours

Before the holidays begin, ask around the neighbourhood to see if anyone needs their pets cared for while they are away, or offer for you and your children to walk their dog during the school break. It will be a great chance for your child to spend time with a special animal, while at the same time learning what’s involved to have a pet. They may even earn themselves some pocket money or a small gift on your neighbour’s return.

Save the …

Have your child spend some time on the internet researching endangered animals, and then as a family come up with a plan as to how you can help save one from extinction. Your child may want to donate a portion of their pocket money, or agree to do extra jobs to ‘sponsor an animal’. It might be as simple as avoiding certain products, or writing a letter to the government to help change some rules.

animal lovers

At Home Fun

There’s plenty of fun stuff you can do at home around the animal theme. You could…

  • Rent an animal movie. Babe, Chicken Little and Barnyard are a few that spring to mind, or have a look at your video store for old classics like Lassie and Black Beauty.
  • Make an animal poster for your child’s room. Buy a large piece of poster card, and make a great animal mural by cutting out animal pictures from magazines and pasting them on. Your child could also add their own special touches with paints and crayons.
  • Create a giant farmyard in your lounge. Paint up old cereal boxes to make farm buildings like hay barns and milking sheds, and create fences by tying string between chair legs and coffee tables. Buy a bag of plastic animals from an emporium type store, and let the farm fun begin.
  • Do some animal arts and crafts. You could make animal cards, soft toys, and puppets, or make a great animal mobile. Simply glue some animals onto some heavy card, decorate them up, and then hang each animal shape from a coat hanger using a piece of string.

Let the fun begin!

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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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Excellent! kids need all the experience they can get with animals nowadays. Not everybody is bought up on a farm!

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