Behind every ready to eat snack, every neatly made bed, every clean house is a team that made it happen, a team whose hard work threw every piece together to prepare the perfection that meets your eye. It is not different at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) formerly known as the Entebbe Zoo. There is a skilled team of personnel passionate about wildlife, working hard to keep the animals alive first as safe place from the pet trade or circus they were involved. The Behind the Scenes Experienceat Uganda Wildlife Education Centre experience allows you the opportunity to be part of this team.
Opened as a zoo in 1952, Uganda Wildlife Education Centre has since its establishment become a home to several rescued animals. It is located out of Kampala in the tranquil town of Entebbe alongside the serene showers of Lake Victoria. It is the only place in Uganda that offers a Behind the Scenes Experience to tourists interested in going beyond the sights and sounds of Uganda’s Wildlife and delving into the steps taken to sustain the animals for posterity.
The behind the scenes experience comes threefold; keeper’s guided tour, keeper-for-the-day and vet-for-the-day. Each of these versions of the experience comes with its own responsibilities, lessons and fun.
The keeper’s guided tourinvolves less work and more learning. At an extra fee, the guide will take you on a guided tour of the animals, while going about his or her duties like feeding the animals and cleaning their habitat. Each animal has a story and the tour guide will narrate it while taking you around; from how the animal came to the center, its peculiar habits or favorite food. The duration of the tour is 2 to 3 hours a day and can be done in the morning or afternoon. For morning visitors, the keeper may give you a chance to feed the hoofed animals and the cat family; lions and leopard, would be available for the afternoon visitors to feed. The feeding schedules available at the center can help you choose the time of your visit depending on which animal you would like to feed. At the end of the keeper’s guided tour, the perspective through which you look at the guide may change from him or her just being a guide, to being a caretaker for the older animals, a pseudo parent to the young animals and a person making a difference in the world, one animal at a time.
As Keeper-for-the-day, you will walk a day in the shoes of a keeper at Uganda Wildlife Education Centre. It starts with attending the keeper briefings, preparing the food for the animals, getting onto the truck that carries food for the animal and serving them with breakfast. As a keeper for that day, you will also have to record the animals’ behavior, which calls for keenness while going about your duties for the day and finally rehabilitating rescued animals. Feel the slithery python with your bare hands, run your hands along the fur of the lion and the elephant because that is what visitors in the behind the scenes experience at Uganda Wildlife Education Centre. The chimpanzee close up is a highlight of this experience for many.
In theVet-For-The-Dayexperience, your tutor and guide to take you through this experience will be the resident Veterinary doctor. Your day will involve carrying out health checks of the animals and seeing how these checks are done, bringing the animals back to their holding facilities and visiting the pharmacy. The food preparation areas ought to be kept clean at all times to prevent the animals from getting any infections. You will be given a chance to visit the food preparation areas, go through the steps of sanitizing these areas and checking them to ensure they are kept sanitary.
At the end of the day, the Behind the Scenes Experienceat the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre remains one of the best ways to interact with animals more closely, exploring their waking and sleeping routines from dawn to dusk. The chance to meet the team that keeps the animals ingood health for all to see, to walk with these skilled personnel through their daily routine will leave you with something ordinary wildlife viewing does not and gives youadditional gratitude towards the keeper’s tireless endeavours.