Geneva, Switzerland - WWF-Switzerland today inaugurated its new Pandamobile, an exhibition-bus that will in the next three years visit schools in the country, to educate children about tropical rainforests.
The Pandamobile project was launched 23 years ago and so far has been one of WWF-Switzerland's most important and successful initiatives. Over that period of time, 13 different exhibitions have toured the country, reaching schools even in the most remote villages. More than 280 000 school children - aged 6 to 14 - and 55 000 adults, representing some 14 000 classes, have benefited from them. Previous exhibition themes included energy, elephants, great apes, bearded vultures and marine life.
In charge of both the driving and the teaching since the launch of the project in 1978, Michel Terrettaz is very excited at the idea of starting his 13th campaign with a brand new bus. Bought from the Migros - the country's largest retailer, and the Pandamobile's sponsor - it will replace the old 1950-postal car, with which Michel drove the equivalent of three times around the world to raise environmental awareness among Swiss kids.
"This adds to my natural enthusiasm, which keeps me from getting tired of this job," he points out. "I try to transmit my passion to the children. It is really for them that I work, because they are the future."
Inside the bus, school classes are immersed in a jungle-like scenery, where they are shown various short films and invited to participate in interactive educational games, such as recognizing typical rainforest animals, plants, tracks, sounds and smells.
Tropical forests were already the theme of the 1982-83 exhibition. "The still high deforestation rate around the globe makes it necessary to repeat an awareness campaign on this issue," regrets Michel Terrettaz. "I would have hoped that in 20 years, things would have improved. On the other hand, our efforts certainly prevented the situation from getting even worse."
For more information:
Olivier van Bogaert, WWF International,
tel.: +41 22 364 9554
Michel Chevallier, WWF Switzerland, tel.: +41 79 477 3949
(WWF is not responsible for outside content)
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
Rainforests Action Network (RAN)
Rainforest Information (for kids)
Rainforest Education Project (private site)
The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)