Cotswold Wildlife Park opened its doors for a very special evening when it hosted Dreamnight At The Zoo for chronically ill and disabled children and their families to enjoy the wildlife park after hours.

Some 80 families were given the rare opportunity to see the animals at night while keepers and staff organised some unforgettable animal encounters with the lemurs, giraffes and penguins.

The night of activities continued with train rides on the Park’s narrow-gauge railway, refreshments, face painting, herb planting with the Park’s gardeners, games, juggling and the chance to meet beautiful birds of prey from Cotswold Falconry Centre.

Oxford Mail:

The Park was one of over 200 zoos and aquariums, from 11 different countries, taking part in the global event that makes dreams come true for truly deserving guests.

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Dreamnight At The Zoo was the brainchild of zookeeper Peter van der Wulp who in 1996 first organised a free evening out at the Rotterdam Zoo exclusively for children with cancer.

Helen Hitchman, event organiser and Education and Activities Manager at Cotswold Wildlife Park, said: “Our first Dreamnight at the Zoo since 2019 was a huge success.

Oxford Mail:

"Hosting this special evening for such incredible children and their families is a highlight of the year. Cotswold Wildlife Park staff and other volunteers give up their time generously to make sure everyone has a wonderful time.

"It’s an absolute pleasure to see all the smiling faces around the Park. Everyone involved gets such a buzz at being able to help the children have some fun. I would also like to thank the charities for all the wonderful work they do and for making sure as many families as possible can attend the event."

Oxford Mail:

Catherine Davies, Family Engagement Manager at WellChild, said: “We would like to thank Cotswold Wildlife Park for all their time, hard work and generosity.

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"Dreamnight at the Zoo is a magical evening where families get a VIP experience. Everyone is smiling, laughing and making memories that will last a lifetime.”

The Oxfordshire children and their families are being supported by Helen & Douglas House (providing hospice care for terminally ill children and young adults), Rainbow Trust (supporting families with a seriously ill child), ROSY (Respite Nursing for Oxfordshire’s Sick Youngsters), CALM (Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Movement), James Hopkins Trust (providing nursing respite care for Gloucestershire’s life limited and life threatened young children) and WellChild (giving seriously ill children the best chance to thrive).