Primary school children love nothing more than seeing behind the scenes, exploring the places they are (usually) not allowed to go. So imagine the excitement of your class when they discover that at London Zoo school trips can involve not only a tour of the animals after everyone else has left but a sleepover in the BUGS! House. This is exactly what is in store for your young pupils on a bedBUGS Sleepover at ZSL London Zoo. |
ZSL (Zoological Society of London) has been running London Zoo school trips for decades, but I don’t think any have been quite as exciting and immersive as this.
Behind the Scenes
As if a sleepover with your entire class isn’t exciting enough for most primary school students, this trip offers a host of extras which will fuel their love of science and conservation. Your pupils will enjoy the unique experience of seeing what goes on in a zoo after it closes.
The event begins at 7pm as the public leaves and the kids arrive. Their host will guide them through the zoo to their room for the night in the BUGS House. After they’ve dropped off their sleeping bags and belongings, and once the sun has gone down, they are treated to a wonderful torch-lit tour of the entire zoo.
This is a great opportunity for your class to see what goes on behind the scenes at night, as well as the chance to see the nocturnal activities of many of the animals. The host allocated to your group will tell them all about the different animals and be happy to answer any questions.
In the morning, your group will be given an early-start tour of the zoo before it opens, so they will see what goes into feeding and looking after the animals in the morning. Your booking will also give you and your class free entry to the zoo for the day after your sleepover.
Bedding Down in the BUGS House
BUGS actually stands for Biodiversity Underpinning Global Survival, and it is a very important part of the conservation work undertaken by ZSL, as well as being the home to the zoo’s invertebrates (think spiders, millipedes, insects and a range of other creepy crawlies). The host will give your class an age-appropriate talk about the residents of the BUGS House and the important part they play in the planet’s conservation.
As well as an informative talk, the host will guide your group around the exhibit, introducing them to some of the invertebrates which live there. Your students will see black widow spiders and luminous jellyfish behind glass, and get up close and personal with some of the BUGS House’s friendlier residents – like the tarantula.
Having met their roommates for the night, there’s a good chance that some of your class may have trouble sleeping! But don’t worry, the host is on hand with a range of science-based activities which will wear them out.
In all the years I have been organising educational tours and London Zoo school trips, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered one that has created as much excitement amongst primary school children. This is a ‘must do’ activity for all young scientists visiting London.
John Gardiner is the Managing Director of The School Travel Company, a tour operator specialising in educational travel for school and youth groups. Whether you’re planning London Zoo school trips, science residentials to CERN or educational visits to Shakespeare’s Globe, you can trust both the educational and economic value of their itineraries, whether ready-made or specifically designed to suit the needs of your group.
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