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“Dreamnight At The Zoo” at Cotswold Wildlife Park

A night full of memories: “Dreamnight At The Zoo” at Cotswold Wildlife Park

A night full of memories: “Dreamnight At The Zoo” at Cotswold Wildlife Park.

Cotswold Wildlife Park quietly opened its doors for a very special evening on Friday 12th June. For the second time, the Park hosted “Dreamnight At The Zoo”- an invitation-only event for chronically ill and disabled children and their families to exclusively enjoy the Wildlife Park after hours.

Seventy-two families were welcomed from Oxfordshire charity Helen & Douglas House, ROSY (Respite Nursing for Oxfordshire’s Sick Youngsters), SCWAD (Swindon Children Without A Diagnosis), WellChild and SpecialEffect. As well as the rare opportunity to see the animals at night (when the Park is normally closed to visitors), keepers and staff volunteered to make the evening one to remember with some unforgettable animal encounters. Their night of activities continued with train rides on the Park’s narrow-gauge railway, food and live music, face painting, herb planting with the Park’s gardeners and the chance to meet  beautiful birds of prey from Cotswold Falconry Centre.

“Dreamnight At The Zoo” was the brainchild of zoo keeper  Peter van der Wulp. Back in 1996, Peter went to the Director of Rotterdam Zoo with a special request. His dream was to organise a free evening out at the zoo exclusively for children with cancer. Peter wanted it to be a joyous night for the whole family to enjoy and relax, without the worry of being treated differently. “Dreamnight At The Zoo” has since become an annual worldwide event which Cotswold Wildlife Park is thrilled to be part of (along with over two hundred zoos and aquariums from eleven different countries).

Alison Hilborne, Support Carer at SpecialEffect, said: “SpecialEffect feels honoured and delighted to be given the opportunity by Cotswold Wildlife Park of inviting the truly remarkable individuals we work with to attend “Dreamnight At The Zoo”. It’s a very special event and creates the most wonderful lasting memories for those families able to attend. To be able to offer this as well as the work we do with them directly enhances their leisure time, fun and all-important inclusion still further. Our families had a lovely time. Thank you so much to the fantastic team at Cotswold Wildlife Park who make the event such a huge success, a truly magical evening.”

George Hedges, Chairman of ROSY, commented: “The Park put on this special evening for disabled children and twenty of our families attended. They had a fantastic time and really enjoyed their visit. “Did they do it just for us?” they ask. The Park did that and our families are comforted in the knowledge that people do care about them. A big thank you to all at Cotswold Wildlife Park. You do care.”

Family Liaison Coordinator for WellChild, Jody Blake, added: “WellChild were delighted to be given the opportunity to invite families to “Dreamnight At The Zoo”. It was a fantastic evening and our families enjoyed being able to explore the Wildlife Park at this exclusive event. A highlight of the evening was undoubtedly getting up close to so many beautiful animals and being given the opportunity to feed the giraffes. It really was a rare treat! The staff were all wonderful too and really made the families feel special. Thank you so much to everyone at Cotswold Wildlife Park for inviting us.”

Event organiser Hayley Rothwell said: “It was a joy to organise and a lovely evening to be part of. All the families we invited seemed to have lots of fun and it was a privilege to help make their night a special one”.

Located near Burford off the A40, Cotswold Wildlife Park opens its doors at 10am every day.

Explore Gloucestershire
19 June 2015 

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