A primary teacher wearing a python round her neck is not the usual way of educating.

But at Whitehaven’s Mayfield School it was the perfect way to welcome pupils back to their typical school life.

Pet Encounters Cumbria visited the school, helping all celebrate the start of the new school year by bringing along its mini zoo.

And the youngsters loved every second, being introduced to everything from snakes, a cockroach and lizards, to a giant rabbit, a baby hedgehog and a rainbow parrot.

Pupils were encouraged to stroke and hold the animals to say a proper hello, as well as feed Ben the meerkat, who was happy to scamper across the school’s hall.

Chris Tweddle, teacher at Mayfield, said: “This was a fun way to start a new term, introducing the pupils up close to tactile animals.

“Some children were just happy to sit and look at the creatures while others were totally up for holding snakes and stroking a cockroach.

“It was lovely to see the pupils handle the animals so gently, especially when it was the first time they will have seen them so close.’’

He added: “It was also good to see our staff being so hands-on and conquering their fears around reptiles.’’

Many enjoyed giving a cuddle here and a belly-rub there for all the animals, with the bigger – and scalier – pets causing quite a stir among the youngsters.

But class teacher, Zoe Robertson, was one of those who stepped up to the plate, impressing her pupils and colleagues with her meet-and-greet with a snake.

The pleased teacher said: “Some of our children were very brave to handle the creepy crawlies and snakes.

“After seeing them, I ended up with the python around my neck which seemed very friendly!’’

Pet Encounters Cumbria offers 30 different species to educate everyone about a variety of animals, as well as providing sensory therapy and help with phobias to those who wish to conquer their fears once and for all.

For more details, including how you can meet the furry – and not-so-furry – friends, contact the Pet Encounters Cumbria team through their Facebook page.