Pool star back in lions’ den!

Gary Taylor-Fletcher with son George

Gary Taylor-Fletcher with son George

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THE barn doors have been thrown open at Blackpool Zoo’s latest attraction

The Children’s Farm is a £500,000 project, designed to give youngsters’ a hands-on approach to learning.

Instead of desks, chairs and blackboards, the latest learning environment involves hay bails, livestock and a mechanical cow, as Blackpool Zoo encourages schoolchildren to interact with the latest additions to their family.

Blackpool FC hero Gary Taylor-Fletcher opened the Children’s Farm along with his three-year-old son George and highlighted the importance of introducing children to the great outdoors.

He told The Gazette: “It’s unbelievable and it’s very important for kids to come down here.

“Nowadays all kids want to do is play on computers but if parents can bring people down here and play on things here it’s good for them.

“When I was young there was no computers so we had to get out and about and now kids can with this.”

A mechanical cow takes pride of place inside the entrance to the barn and is used to teach visitors about milking.

Gary added: “The cow being milked is magnificent and allowing the children to get up close to the animals is great.”

A straw filled classroom full of goslings and pens containing donkeys, Shetland ponies and sheep make up the new farm.

Bosses at the zoo hope their latest attraction will continue to boost visitor numbers which soared in 2010.

Darren Webster, managing director of Blackpool Zoo, said: “It has been a long time coming but it will take Blackpool to the next level.

“The zoo is doing phenomenally well and it will bring more people to the town.

“From my point of view getting up close and learning with the animals is a far greater experience than seeing them from behind glass.”

Blackpool mayor Coun Joan Greenhalgh said the the Children’s Farm would teach youngsters a lot.

She said: “I think it’s absolutely wonderful and it will do a lot for Blackpool.

“It’s a fine addition and it will afford many hours of pleasure for people.

“Every morning when I was younger I worked on a farm and I learned a lot from that experience.”