Using conversational English to give you great English listening practice. Tons of natural phrases and everyday conversational English that will make you sound more like a native English speaker. A great way to prepare for English at university, job interviews and exams.
There are a range of topics covered in the conversation in this English lesson, which centre around a recent trip to a UK safari park. The conversation includes
many everyday English expressions which you may hear and use yourself and there is also some discussion about animals.
Learning to speak English fluently through language acquisition is a fun, interesting, and an outstanding way to practice your conversational English. This article, and lots of others just like it on our website, will help you learn how to listen to audio in English. Plus some great listening activities for practising your English listening skills.
People are not going to care about animal conservation unless they think that animals are worthwhile.
⭐ Sir David Attenborough
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So, here we are and it’s nearly the end of the summer in the UK. I’m taking some well-earned holiday this week and next, and we’re staying home and doing day trips. A proper ‘staycation’, if you like.
I did want to go to France to visit my sister there, but with all the faff and the cost of PCR tests and the fact that my younger daughter isn’t yet fully vaccinated, so she’d have to isolate both sides of the journey – well it just didn’t seem worth it.
I’ll try again later for half-term in October – and see whether it’s more possible then. And I looked at renting a holiday cottage in the UK – even an Airbnb – but everything was booked or astronomically expensive! Not doing that! So instead, some rest and relaxation at home and some day trips. And we’ll holiday more hopefully when it’s easier to do it in the autumn or next year.
So the first one of these day trips– somewhere else to visit if you come to UK – Woburn Safari Park. This is effectively a zoo, but a nicer zoo in that it’s mainly a safari park. That means that you drive round a massive park in your car and the animals have lots of room to roam around.
You’re the one in the cage, effectively! Woburn Safari Park has 360 acres in total – that’s 145 hectares. And it’s about an hour’s drive north of the centre of London.
My younger daughter and my son came with me – and we had a really nice day out. Both my children reported that they don’t like normal zoos very much because they think that many of the animals there don’t have enough room in their enclosures and they look sad. And I think they’re probably right.
An ‘enclosure’ is an area, fenced off for an animal, ENCLOSURE. So when I said to them that I’d booked to go to a safari park, they were looking forward to it much more. And Woburn Safari Park has lots of large animals – and you drive round in your own car. It’s a long drive which loops around and goes in and out of many very large areas for different animals.
So the animals have huge spaces to live in and relative freedom. Much better than an enclosure in a zoo anyway. We saw elephants, lions, tigers, wolves, bears, rhinoceroses, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, elands all roaming free. And then quite a large area with a forest full of monkeys. And the instructions throughout – keep your car windows closed and don’t get out of your car. Otherwise, you might be eaten, I guess.
There were smaller animals, in enclosures, which you walk round on foot to see. But the enclosures were relatively large. There were lots of wallabies for example, which are like small kangaroos. I don’t know much about zoo keeping, but many of the animals had quite a lot of young, quite a lot of babies.
Presumably, if they weren’t happy or healthy, they wouldn’t breed. ‘To breed’, BREED is used of animals and it means to have young, to have babies if you like. We don’t usually use ‘to breed’ of humans though!
Anyway, we enjoyed many elements of the safari park. We drove around the safari loop, we had a picnic lunch on the grass, looked around the smaller animal enclosures and then we did the safari loop a second time because we enjoyed it so much.
The loop takes around an hour. It’s true what the safari park say – it’s different each time you go round because you see different animals. We especially liked the giraffes and the wallabies, but the animals which ‘stole the show’ (that means ‘the ones which we liked and remembered the most’) were of course the monkeys.
There are tiny squirrel monkeys in an enclosure in the centre, but there are also a large pack, a large group of free-roaming monkeys, which are Barbary Macaques and these ones live in quite a large area of forest. You drive through the forest in your car – and of course, you see hoards of monkeys and they climb onto your car and look in at you through the window.
They sit on the roof of your car in twos and threes – and ride along. And you have to careful that their fiddling little fingers don’t pull of your windscreen wipers or your car aerial for your radio – that’s AERIAL. And your windscreen wipers? They’re those things which clear the rain off the front window of your car, which we call the windscreen, WINDSCREEN.
But the monkeys are fun – and do funny things and make you laugh. And there were lots of baby monkeys too. They were very sociable – with the humans and with each other. You did get the impression that they were having an OK time.
So after hearing my children’s concerns and having felt the same about zoos myself in the past – i.e. the animals don’t look happy and they’re in too small a space, it set me wondering about safari parks and are they better? And what about the winter in the UK, when it can be quite cold.
I’m sure the wolves and bears are OK in the winter, and apparently the Barbary Macaques are fine in cold weather too. But what about the elephants, lions and tigers, who’re used to a much warmer climate? And what are the other issues with safari parks?
So I suppose the original point of zoos was to provide entertainment and education to humans – and to an extent that’s still true. If you pay for tickets to somewhere like Woburn Safari Park, you expect to have a nice day out. And there is an educational element – if you’ve actually seen tigers and elephants, especially as a child, then you’re more likely to care about their welfare and their conservation as an adult.
You’re more likely to be concerned at their situation. If children are introduced to animals, they tend to care about animals for the rest of their lives. This is done through having pets, but also seeing animals you can’t keep as pets or whose habitat is at the other side of the world and may require conservation. Children introduced to this, are more likely to support animal welfare and conservation charities as adults. But zoos need to be so much more these days.
Child in drive through safari sees a zebra. An English language listening lesson about a trip to a safari park.
There’s much more awareness and concern for what we call ‘animal welfare’ in zoos. And these things are strictly controlled in the UK. But like us, many people are concerned that traditional zoos aren’t able to keep animals in conditions which make them happy, or which enable them to thrive.
‘To thrive’, THRIVE means ‘to grow and to live well’. People want to see animals living as naturally as possible. And certainly not being made to ‘perform’ or do tricks to entertain humans – that’s not fair. Zoos used to be populated with animals which had been caught from the wild, but this is no longer so much the case.
Usually the animals in zoos are there, because they are the descendants, the children and the children’s children of animals that were caught in the wild – and it’s difficult now to return them. Or they’re there for reasons of conservation. Conservation, CONSERVATION is a noun and it means ‘taking care of the species’, taking care and preserving a particular type of animal.
The word ‘conservation’ is also used when we’re talking about an animal’s ‘habitat’, HABITAT - that’s where it lives. And animals are graded in terms of how rare they are – how few are left. So zoos and safari parks can have an important role in conserving species of animals and preventing extinction. That’s EXTINCTION – meaning that there are none of a particular type of animal left – that’s ‘extinction’.
So Woburn Safari Park is involved in a number of conservation projects. These include international projects to help elephants, tigers, rhinos, bongos, ring tailed lemurs, red pandas and squirrel monkeys.
And there are breeding programmes, where animals are endangered – so that the species of animal, that’s SPECIES – that means ‘type of animal’, can be preserved if possible, and maybe even reintroduced into the wild.
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Zoos and safari parks don’t just raise awareness of the need for conservation, but they also raise money specifically for conservation. This can be used to help animals still in the wild, who live in their natural habitats. Zoos also train keepers, people to look after the animals in countries where they naturally live.
I think that the role that zoos and safari parks must play, is in reminding us of all the animal species that are out there. We’re so wrapped up in our human lives, our human concerns and our human needs and wants that we forget that we share the planet with hundreds of other species. It’s not just about us – we have to share our space. And zoos and safari parks have a role to play in reminding us of this.
And the question of whether safari parks are better? Well, there’s a link in the transcript for this podcast to a video of Jane Goodall, the famous British primatologist. She talks in the video about animal welfare in zoos. And the conclusion is that yes, safari parks are better because animals have more space.
Anyway, let us know what you think of this. And I hope that helps you work on your vocabulary for animals that you might find in zoos.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.