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On June 28, 2024, a group of 20 DigiPen Europe-Bilbao students from the BFA in Digital Art and Animation, as well as DigiPen Singapore OIP students, went on an educational visit to Basondo Wildlife Center for the third consecutive year. The day trip was a crucial component of ART 200, the animal anatomy course, allowing them to draw various animals at close range and put their theoretical understanding into practice through hands-on observation. The excursion, scheduled for the entire day, was planned to improve the student’s comprehension of animal anatomy by observing and sketching.

Group of BFA students sketching animal anatomy through hands-on experience

What is Basondo?

Basondo is a wildlife refuge and animal sanctuary located in the picturesque region of the Basque Country in Spain. This sanctuary is dedicated to the conservation and rehabilitation of native and exotic species, offering a safe haven for animals in need. Basondo is known for its commitment to education and environmental awareness, providing guided tours and interactive experiences that allow visitors to learn about the diverse species it protects. The refuge is home to a variety of animals, including birds of prey, mammals, reptiles, and other wildlife, all housed in naturalistic enclosures designed to mimic their natural habitats. Through its efforts, Basondo not only ensures the well-being of its resident animals but also fosters a greater appreciation for wildlife and conservation among the public.

  • Picture of a lynx taken from behind
  • Two emus rest in their habitat
  • A hand gently pets the nose of a fiendly horse
  • An alpaca poses seriously for a portrait photo

Getting into nature

Laura Choueri, the teacher of the class, and a well-informed local guide from Basondo, accompanied them and offered interesting details about the animals and where they live. While on the trip, students were shown a variety of animals such as deer, owls, alpacas, foxes, different types of birds, parrots, vultures, wolves, snakes, raccoons, iguanas, royal turkeys, and a lynx.

  • Laura Choueri, BFA teacher at DigiPen Institute of Technology Europe-Bilbao
  • Guide from Basondo Wildlife Center
  • Snake held treated by guide, being shown to BFA students
  • Snake carefully slides through BFA students
  • BFA students admire colors of of a snake resting on the chest of a student

During the day, an exciting moment occurred when a majestic turkey showed off its colorful feathers to the students, while a friendly deer came near the group, allowing for a unique up-close viewing experience.

  • Deer approaching to the students during the visit
  • Royal turkey showing off its colorfoul feathers

Following the lunch in the park, the students participated later in sketching activities where they closely observed and interacted with the animals, learning firsthand about their musculature and exoskeleton structures. This hands-on experience was extremely valuable in comprehending animal anatomy by directly putting theoretical learning into real-world situations. These experiences are important for developing lifelike drawings and models, necessary skills for jobs in animation and video game design.

  • Deer sketch, drawn by BFA student
  • Sketch of a bird done on a digital tablet
  • BFA students sketch the head of a horse

The Basondo excursion was a remarkable class, offering DigiPen Europe-Bilbao students a distinctive combination of learning and exploration. It showed the great importance of experiential learning, showcasing how going beyond the classroom can improve comprehension and ignite innovation.