Sick children's night at zoo is animal magic

MORE than 1,500 bereaved, long-term, terminally ill and special needs children and their carers enjoyed a free evening at Edinburgh Zoo.

The private party, called Dreamnight, saw staff at the zoo give their time on a voluntary basis so that the children could enjoy the attraction.

Special activities and extra events were laid on for the night, allowing the children to see some of the 1,000 animals on show and ask experts on hand as many questions as they liked. They were also among the first visitors to see the recently-hatched baby penguins.

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There was also the chance to enjoy special behind-the-scenes access, a bouncy castle, face-painting, animal talks and a one-off evening penguin parade.

Darren McGarry, animal collections manager at Edinburgh Zoo, said: "This was a very special night for all those involved. What we try to do is to create a night to remember so that the children can forget their problems and just be kids. For staff, the highlight of the night is seeing so many smiling faces."

The idea of Dreamnight started at a zoo in Holland. Now, more than 500 zoos across the world take part in the event on the same date every year.