Date: Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th May 2017
Venue: ZSL London Zoo
Special Children’s Day is a unique annual event at ZSL London Zoo which invites children with disabilities and their families to explore the zoo on a fully inclusive day that’s designed with them in mind. With increased specialist facilities and staff numbers, as well as interactive activities and discounted entry, Special Children’s Day is an event not to be missed!
Sensory Tours hosted by Daytrippers
As well as providing a grant to London Zoo towards the costs of staging Special Children’s Day, Daytrippers hosts private sensory tours for children and young people who want to go backstage at the zoo and get up close and personal with some of the animals. These popular private tours of the Rainforest Life area aim to provide children with disabilities, especially those with visual impairments, an opportunity to learn and explore a part of the zoo which is usually out of bounds. This year the sensory and interactive experience included touching small live animals such as Giant African Snails and animal skins, as well as preparing enrichment meals for Mongooses and Aye-Ayes, which replicated the animal’s own feeding habitat and provided a vivid conservation lesson.
One parent shared this about the tours:
“The sensory tour was fantastic. Thank you to [instructors] Ben, Jenny and Cassandra who paid so much attention to all the children and allowed them to take their time to touch the giant Snail and the hissing Cockroach. My daughter particularly loved making the food for the Aye-Ayes. Thank you Daytrippers for all the work that you do to make our children happy.”
For one lucky family, their day out was about to get even better…
J and his parents were chosen through a raffle on our Facebook page to join the zoo keepers for a private Giraffe feeding experience! As luck would have it, 2015 Daytrippers Young Ambassador and previous Giraffe feeder Ethan was also there to guide J through the process. Maggie the giraffe seemed most satisfied with her deconstructed salad. Well done guys!
“Thank you for such a brilliant gift – I will never forget it. I can’t stop smiling!” – J’s mum.
Back at our charity hub stall, the Daytrippers staff and volunteer team announced the winners of our imaginatively named “Guess How Many Sweets Are In This Jar” game, and awarded two eagle-eyed children with big cuddly toys to take home as a reminder of their special day at the zoo.
Our longstanding volunteers Maggi and Bernie were predictably wonderful, and no one would have guessed Rebecca, Alice, Jaspreeta, Victoria, and Michael were all new additions to the team – everyone was brilliant! Thank you all so much for helping us make the weekend one to remember for all the children and families who came along.
Another parent was kind enough to share this on Facebook:
“Thank you Daytrippers for putting on such a brilliant event yesterday at London Zoo. The atmosphere was so relaxed and all the children were just enjoying themselves. I saw so many children dancing with the London Zoo staff dressed up as animals.”
Other Special Children’s Day highlights this year:
- Singing Hands: Special Children’s Day veterans Suzanne & Tracy from the hugely popular “Singing Hands” introduced families to the amazing world of animals through Makaton themed signs, songs, rhymes, stories and games.
- Wildlife Gardening: Children and parents were invited to plant a seed to take back home with them and grow at home, or build a mini-beast hotel to attract wildlife to their gardens.
- Sensory Storytelling: Free immersive and interactive stories about the natural world were shared by London Zoo team throughout the days.
- LIVE! talks: The Zoo’s amazing animal talks were accompanied by British Sign Language interpreters right across the weekend.
- Animal Adventure: We all met some of our favourite animals, got close up and hands on in the ‘Touch Paddock’, and played in the splash zone, secret garden and tunnels.
Daytrippers has been a proud Partner of Special Children’s Day since 2008. We believe it is an exceptional event and have made annual donations contributing to the running costs of the days at London and Whipsnade Zoo. In 2018 we are committing further funds to cover the cost of additional mobility aids, BSL interpreters, sensory equipment, First Aid, personal care supplies, and additional ZSL staffing.
Thank you to Global’s Make Some Noise who co-funded this event.
Photography by Leila Talmadge and Victoria Hessey