Petting zoo provides study break to stressed students
Published by University of Leicester Press Office for University of Leicester in Education
Petting zoo. Credit: University of Leicester
Students at the University of Leicester received an unusual visit from a group of loveable farmyard animals, including a Shetland pony, a calf and a black Labrador, in an effort to relieve the stress of exams.
On Thursday, 16 January from 10.30-3.30pm, the University of Leicester Students’ Union welcomed a mobile petting zoo aimed at giving students a break from studying.
As well as the above, an assortment of other feathered, furry and fluffy visitors were gathered in a pen outside the Percy Gee building for passers-by to ogle and hold, including sheep, geese, chickens, ducks and even a pygmy goat.
The event was organised in response to a Facebook post in August 2013 from Leicester student, Joe McGuire, who suggested the idea to help take students’ minds off of their exams.
The animals were supplied by Ark Farm, a large smallholding which started as a family business in 2009 and has since grown to become one of the leading mobile farms in the UK - and one of only a handful covering the East Midlands region.
President of the Students’ Union Dan Flatt said: “We organised the petting zoo because we always listen to our students and try to give them what they want – it’s nice to be able to develop our exam support campaign whilst giving what a student wants.
“We’ve seen hundreds of students, and a few staff members, come down to play with the animals on their way to the library or after an exam. We know that fresh air and regular breaks improve focus – so hopefully students have gone back to revision even more effectively once they’ve been out to see the animals. It’s great to see universal support from students.”
Final year French and English undergraduate student Hollie Brookes stopped by to enjoy the petting zoo before submitting an essay - she has two upcoming exams and made good use of the zoo’s anti-stress aesthetic.
She said: “Getting to hold a duck certainly took my mind off essays and exams! Having a petting zoo on campus is great idea. It was definitely the best revision break I’ve ever had!”
After the success of the petting zoo, Flatt encourages other students’ unions to follow suit.
He added: “We’ve seen friends of our students tweeting their students’ unions asking for petting zoos. It’s just been great to see people having a bit of fun during a time which is often quite stressful.”