BedBUGS - Sleepover at London Zoo
Some 65 intrepid souls turned up at 19.00 sharp to be lead into the Bio Diversity centre or B.U.G.S. Centre, which was our bedroom for the night. You sleep on the floor so a good mattress roll is essential. If you have a phobia, be warned that you may be sleeping with a transparent box of spiders, rats, jellyfish or crickets above your head.
After your floor space was allocated the kids had a visit from a lady with her friend – a bird-eating spider. Apparently the females can live to be 30 whilst the males are lucky to get to three. She may not need to eat for a year if she does get to munch on her partner.
After the talk we adapted our torches with a red gel covering and headed off on a night safari of the zoo complete with experts. The big cats were awake as were the aardvarks, porcupines, hippo, emus, alpacas, lamas and owls. The Komodo dragon wasn’t playing and nobody really wanted to disturb the apes or there really would be no sleep.
Returning to the B.U.G.S centre there were games and a story-teller before lights out at midnight. HEXBUGS are the sponsors for these events and each child got a free HEXBUG toy. These are fabulous little mechanical bugs that are like little trains , and the Zoo had track pieces available for the children to make up tracks for the HEXBUGS to run around. Games were played before it was bedtime. For adults, bedtime is a bit like camping with strangers and without a tent. Most people snuck off to the toilets to change or contorted themselves into challenging positions in order to change in their sleeping bags. Unless you are used to camping in large communal tents (who is?) this could be a source of embarrassment.
Although it is called a sleepover there is very little sleep as the animals start their calling around 5am. It is not every day you wake up to the sound of lions. Once the howler monkey starts you can forget about rolling over for a few more minutes shut-eye. After a quick breakfast in the café we were taken to the rain forest. Here the monkeys are confident enough to get close enough for you to touch although you mustn’t, of course. The Tamandua (a Central American ant eater) is one of the cutest animals you will see, even more so when a Tamarind monkey pops into his house and wakes him up with a smack to the side of the head. Then it is a visit to nocturnal world to see the saucer eyed and incredibly slow moving Loris. Plus the sausage skin with legs that is the blind mole rat.
We finished our stay with Penguin Beach the newest exhibit which allows you to see the birds under the water torpedoing along and leaping out of the water. This is so mesmeric and soothing you almost forget that you still have a visit to the shop …arghh !
You’re on the street by 09.00 which is when Camden parking wardens awake if you have parked outside. The zoo car park is available for free but it is a long way to lug the surprisingly large amount of luggage that you will have brought along with you!
PWT rating: ♥♥♥♥♥
Read Joe's and James' reports
Booking for BedBUGS sleepovers in 2012 will be on sale from mid-October, 2011 call 020 7449 6269
Adults and children £50 each. Aimed at eight to 11 year olds and 11 to 14 year olds (separate sleepovers)