MEK, de Stichting Milieu, Educatie en Kinderboerderij, is located in Oosterhout – about a twenty minute – drive from Breda. Or in English: MEK is a petting zoo focusing on education and sustainability. Bart Stadhouders, lecturer Professional Leadership & Development, arranged a fieldtrip to show the variety in the industry. It entails more than just theme parks, as is often limited to. An estimation indicates that there are roughly 550 to 600 petting zoos in the Netherlands (Kinderboerderijen.nl). The total number of attraction parks? A mere 42 parks are registered. That really puts the two in a different perspective!
A selection of mammals (e.g. sheep, pigs) and birds (e.g. geese, chickens) are presented by MEK. Children, for whom a variety of activities are organised, are the primary target group. The organisation operates locally and has one establishment. Their vision is to strive for sustainable nature management for future generations and people for other parts of the world by educating visitors at the petting zoo, while fulfilling recreative and social functions within Oosterhout. Find more information on the website!
The manager showed every exhibit and told more about plans for the future – such as expanding the vegetable garden – during the tour. A perfect starting point for the assignment! MEK was established 25 years ago, and wants to celebrate this with visitors. During a 45 minute brainstorm session, the third year students of Attractions & Theme Park Management collaborated to generate ideas for an event. Eventually, the outcomes were presented to the manager. The fieldtrip was a true eye-opener regarding the scope of the track and the industry, and an incentive to look beyond theme parks in the future.