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Wind no defeat for sick children at Wellington Zoo

11 March 2005

Wind no defeat for sick children at Wellington Zoo

Gale force winds were far from top of mind last Sunday as 70 child cancer patients and their families set upon Wellington Zoo to experience Dream Night.

Following months of planning by the Zoo and The Child Cancer Foundation, Dream Night came to bear numerous delights for the sick children and their families with support from businesses around New Zealand.

Wellington Zoo’s Bird Curator and head of planning for Dream Night, Geert Van Eyken describes the evening as “A tremendous success, there were lots of good responses, but the best measure were the happy faces on the children”.

A first for Australasia, Dream Night is based on a concept originally developed by Rotterdam Zoo in The Netherlands in which terminally ill children were given a night out at the Zoo where they were treated as VIPs and could enjoy entertainment as well as tours of the Zoo and occasionally animal interaction.

Following this concept, visitors were offered free barbecue food, Dream ice-creams, motorcycles, face painting, fire poi, fire engine and ambulance interaction as well as of course continual animal talks by Zoo Keepers at the animals.

Rayz Roadshow provided the finale to the evening after which the children travelled down to the front of the Zoo holding glowsticks where they received a gift bag filled with treats including soft toys and books.

As a Charitable Trust, the evening was manned by volunteer staff both from the Zoo’s own employees and pool of volunteers as well as helpful partners and friends.

“Everyone working that night did an excellent job and all of them were there voluntarily.

We had so many supporters; Hirepool, Tip Top, Weta Workshop, Body FX, Wellington City Council, New Zealand Safety, The Mad Butcher, Randwick Meats, Wellington Motorcycles, John Hanson and Sons Wellington Produce, Rayz Roadshow, Grantley Imports, Two by Two International, KB Toys and Ty Australia” comments Geert.

Originally from Antwerp Zoo, Geert brought the idea with him describing the event as extremely gratifying.

Plans are already in place to repeat Dream Night again in 2006 on a potentially larger scale.


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