Following the Zoomarine’s basic principles (Education, Science, Conservation and Entertainment), the Education Department continuously develops a series of educational options aimed for all our visitors, no matter age or background.
Within the several programmes directed to the general audience and school community, the Educational Department has been developing and implementing original programmes that can integrate entertainment and education. This fusion results from original and awkward programmes (and, at the same time, so complementary) like “Meet the Educator”, “Didactic Presentations”, “Educational Sessions”, “Guided Tours”. Also, several educational materials (in Portuguese) regarding different taxonomic groups are produced aimed for different ages (years 3 to 5, 6 to 8, 9 to 12, 13 to 16 and adults).
With a broad universe of visitors, Zoomarine has available, daily, a group of educational activities especially idealized to help learn and understand the exciting natural world.
There are several available programmes aimed for organized groups (school or other) and for the daily visitor. A visit to Zoomarine is always an excellent opportunity to learn in an informal but pedagogical way.
Droplets of Nature
This program is based on a mobile structure with different biological objects, that will interest even the absent-minded. The aim is to share with the visitor some biological, conservation and ecological facts in a fun and light way. This is an informal educational session but with a strong pedagogical impact destined to all ages.
Meet the Educator
Daily, a member of the Educational Department is present in the areas of the different zoological groups (Birds of prey, Pinnipeds, Crocodiles and Alligators, Aquarium and Rehabilitation Center) at pre-established schedules.
An invitation to ask those puzzling questions and to learn some of Nature’s mysteries and species within.
Discover the Aquarium
Discover who really glows in the dark or which animal changes gender throughout their lives. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn about our aquarium in a fun and family-based approach.
Ray Feeding Session
Have you ever felt the smooth texture of a ray or wondered why they have such curious shapes? Meet, learn and, last but not least, feed our eagle rays in a truly fun experience aimed for all family members. Yes, even the young ones will be dazzled by these gentle shark relatives.
Zoomarine Summer Camps
Zoomarine offers several free time activities programs full of unique experiences and lots of fun.
On different dates and targeting different age groups, our summer camps are an extraordinary opportunity to get to know the inhabitants of the oceans… and beyond.
The Zoomarine’s Education Department has, at the disposal of the Portuguese school community, a group of free educational programmes and activities, adapted to different school levels and aimed at complementing the official national school curricula.
According to each school rank and participation dynamics, these educational programmes are based on three different categories:
- Didactic Presentations
- Guided Tours
- Educational Sessions
The didactic presentations and guided tours take place at the stadiums and/or zoological areas of Zoomarine and are conducted by the educational team, with access to amplification equipment (whenever needed) and with the presence of some zoological specimens and well-being professionals (trainers, biologists, veterinaries and so forth). According to each programme, the educational team has access to support materials for better content exposure and integration.
All these programmes are constructed and implemented according to five main key-concepts: morphology; distribution; nutritional requirements and habits; reproduction; and conservation of species/habitats/ecosystems.
The EDUCar project was born as a Zoomarine’s 25th-anniversary celebration, aiming to become the largest itinerant Environmental Education project in the Algarve.
The concept is straightforward: an important message and a means to get to different places. This way, schools who do not have the chance to visit Zoomarine, can also enjoy a little bit of the park’s magic and its education mission.
In just 5 years EduCar has visited over 400 elementary schools between the Algarve and Baixo Alentejo.
Completely free for all those who enjoy this project, we aim to bring our conservation message to many more schools in these regions.
“Montanha Verde” Operation
Conceived and promoted by Zoomarine, through its social and environmental responsibility philosophy ‘Together We Protect’, ‘Operação Montanha Verde’ gave its first steps in 2016 aiming at the involvement of the local community for the collective protection of the Algarve’s natural values.
On November 8, the first 5,000 trees were planted in Silves, with the support and dedication of Zoomarine’s employees and the Civil Protection of Silves City Council. Since then, and given the success of the initiative, the project naturally started its growth process, doubling each year the number of trees and sites.
To date, and in just 4 years, this initiative has already planted more than 79,000 trees in eight Algarve municipalities.
Since this was an initiative that started from Zoomarine’s employees, the same philosophy of operation and logistical support has been maintained since its inception, despite its exponential growth. Zoomarine ensures the organization and logistics of the event, providing tools, transportation, comfort meals for those involved and of course, all the trees for planting. It also has the fundamental support of a growing number of entities, namely the municipalities involved in this operation, as well as other active forces in the region.
"Montanha Verde" Operation 2021:
“Praia Limpa” Operation
“Small Steps, Big Changes”
In close connection with the ‘Operação Montanha Verde’, ‘Operação Praia Limpa’ is born just six months later, also guided by the same philosophy of social and environmental responsibility ‘Together We Protect’.
The first edition took place on May 2017, cleaning two neighbouring beaches in Armação de Pêra (Praia Grande de Pêra and Olival Beach) and was attended by just over 100 volunteers. Since then, the initiative took place every year, always in the same month, symbolically anticipating the bathing season, becoming a recurring event on the calendar of many residents (domestic and foreign) and tourists.
This initiative aims to engage us in the need to protect one of our most extraordinary common heritage – the ocean.
"Praia Limpa" Operation 2022:
Not all exotic species are an environmental problem and not all are invasive. But all invasive species are a conservation problem since they compete with native species for available resources in an unbalanced way.
Zoomarine has played an active role in mitigating this problem. By educating and providing support to people who no longer are able/willing to have their terrapins at home, thus preventing the release of these into the wild; and also by the rehabilitation and return into the wild of injured or sick specimens, belonging to the two native species.
The phenomenon of recurrent and intense release in the wild of terrapins belonging to alien species, by individuals who purchased them in pet stores and due species’ considerable size and longevity, no longer have the availability/possibility to keep them, is internationally regarded as a serious environmental problem.
Given this reality, that has caused the decline of some native species, the possession of specimens of some species is now prohibited under Portuguese law.
For more information on which species possession is prohibited in Portugal, contact the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (Phone: +351 213 507 900).
Zoomarine seeks to contribute to the solution of environmental problems affecting the two species of native terrapins (Mediterranean pond turtle – Mauremys leprosa; and European pond turtle – Emys orbicularis) in two ways:
For many years Zoomarine received at its premises specimens of exotic terrapins species, whose owners no longer had the capacity/availability to keep them.
Presently our habitats are already at maximum capacity, therefore Zoomarine advises people who ask and visit us, and through the media, on how to proceed in these situations.
Rehabilitation of native species
Zoomarine, through its rehabilitation centre, rescues and rehabilitates specimens of the two species of native terrapins, with the aim to release them back into the wild. We therefore seek, to reduce the decline of these species in the wild.
What to do
If you have a terrapin in your possession, belonging to an alien species, and no longer have the possibility/ will to care for it, do not release it into the wild. Please contact the authorities (e.g. Institute for Conservation of Nature and Forests – phone: +351 21 350 79 00) to obtain information on how to proceed (only in Portugal).
Likewise, if you want to buy a terrapin in a pet store, look up its specie, longevity and maximum size of growth. There are species that may live more than 30 years and grow considerably, so it is very important to consider them before you choose one as a pet.
Finally, if you encounter a terrapin belonging to one of the native species, do not take it home. Portuguese law prohibits the possession of any specimen belonging to native species.