Last weekend on October 22nd, local students from Cuc Phuong Primary School experienced for the first time a full-day primate education trip in the forest that engaged them with the nature and introduced them to captive wildlife through various creative activities.

This Primate Education Day is initiated by the Endangered Primate Rescue Center, in collaboration with the Cuc Phuong National Park’s Conservation Awareness Program (CAP), with the aim of raising awareness and improving knowledge about the forest and primates in students studying and living in the buffer zone of Cuc Phuong National Park, where the EPRC is based.

On this day, students can wake up early not to carry a huge school bag to class nor worry about theories from textbook or performance in tests. They can forget all the pressure that the schooling system puts on them to blend in with the nature landscape, with the gibbon singing and with the fun activities that happen on early morning till late afternoon.

After weeks of brainstorming, planning and testing, the EPRC and CAP finally ran our first event in the series of Primate Education Day on October 22nd, which saw 30 students from the local Cuc Phuong Primary School having fun and taking part in outdoor activities throughout the day.  Let’s take a look at some of the moments we were able to capture on our first Primate Education Day.

Trash collecting, primate drawing and more with Primate Education Day. Photo by EPRC.

Their reaction as they were told the first activity of the day is trash collecting.

Trash collecting, primate drawing and more with Primate Education Day. Photo by EPRC.

Cuc Phuong National Park is a famous tourist attraction for people from Hanoi as well as international tourists as they visit Vietnam. This means an inevitable amount of litter is rife in some particular spots.

Trash collecting, primate drawing and more with Primate Education Day. Photo by EPRC.

By participating in collecting trash, not only young students will get used to and practice an environmentally friendly habit, this was also a chance for them to understand the cause and effect that human has put on the ecosystem.

Trash collecting, primate drawing and more with Primate Education Day. Photo by EPRC.

Bottles floating on the lake would contaminate the water, potentially killing lives of many fish. When the students were explained about the impact of littering, they were no longer afraid of getting their hands wet to get the bottles out of the lake.

Trash collecting, primate drawing and more with Primate Education Day. Photo by EPRC.

Ant carrying food is a game which promises heaps of embarrassment, excitement and incessant laughter from the young students as they will have to take turn holding a leaf with their lips to carry it to the last person in line.

Trash collecting, primate drawing and more with Primate Education Day. Photo by EPRC.

Why playing this game? Mostly for fun, but also it gives students the chance to really deeply contemplate about the ant’s world.

Trash collecting, primate drawing and more with Primate Education Day. Photo by EPRC.

Visiting the turtles in the Turtle Conservation Center amazed the kids with how much they haven’t known about turtles, a species they frequently see in the mountain.

Trash collecting, primate drawing and more with Primate Education Day. Photo by EPRC.

Checking out peacocks who are raised by the National Park is a bonus for their morning’s itinerary.

Trash collecting, primate drawing and more with Primate Education Day. Photo by EPRC.

The highlight of the Primate Education Day is the tour around the primate center where they finally got to see wildlife from the deep forest.

Trash collecting, primate drawing and more with Primate Education Day. Photo by EPRC.

Didn’t want to forget the key information given throughout the day, the girls took advantage of a boy’s gallant to take note.

Trash collecting, primate drawing and more with Primate Education Day. Photo by EPRC.

Primate drawing was highly expected since the beginning of the day. When they finally could get their dexterous hands on the crayons, they were not hesitant to show off their drawing skills

Trash collecting, primate drawing and more with Primate Education Day. Photo by EPRC.

Drawing requires observation, patience and meticulousness. This is an opportunity for students to really see for themselves how the animals behave, sit, run, climb and swing.

Trash collecting, primate drawing and more with Primate Education Day. Photo by EPRC.

Cutting food and preparing enrichment for the gibbons and lorises enabled students to see their own results as their products will be fed for the captive animals.

Trash collecting, primate drawing and more with Primate Education Day. Photo by EPRC.

Despite the unexpected rain, the kids were eager to follow our instructions on making enrichments. They took pride in the care they have provided for our primates and felt a deeper connection with the animals.

Trash collecting, primate drawing and more with Primate Education Day. Photo by EPRC.

Checking out Cucu the loris was a big treat for them, as they have only heard of stories about this giant-eyed, tree dwelling nocturnal animal from their parents before.

Trash collecting, primate drawing and more with Primate Education Day. Photo by EPRC.

Rest assured that no harm was imposed on Cucu the loris as he is our education ambassador who will never get the chance to return to the wild due to a serious injury he encountered when he was 9 days old.

Trash collecting, primate drawing and more with Primate Education Day. Photo by EPRC.

Although the look from their faces told us that they were pretty worn out at the end of the trip, we still got the hear the loudest YES ever when we asked them if they wanted to do this again in the future.

For some of them coming from a low-income background whose parents are always busy from dusk till dawn trying to maintain their livelihoods, this was the first time for them to visit the famous Cuc Phuong National Park despite their close proximity to it. For many others, legends about lorises, gibbons, langurs, binturongs, leopard cats and turtles were finally experienced rather than heard. But for all of them, as our survey has found at the end of the day, the next trip to the forest is very much looked forward to.

By giving the students an opportunity to experience a fun, educational and practical study trip to the National Park and the EPRC, the students will have a better understanding of Vietnam’s primates and their extinction risks. From then, we hope the students will radiate their love for primates to their friends and family, which eventually helps preventing the illegal wildlife trade from the root. This is a long-term strategy for the conservation of Vietnam’s primates.

If you think our education program is making a change to the lives of local students living in the mountainous areas, and contributing to the conservation of primates in the long-run, why don’t you consider donating to the EPRC to help us carry on this activity in the future? To donate, please click here.