Zoo sleepover

by Diane on 29/03/2012

Wellington Zoo offers sleepovers. I’ve heard about this before, and thought how great it would be to spend a night at the zoo. But I never investigated this idea further, because

  • the minimum age of 5 years implies that this offer is aimed at kids
  • there is no way I could convince 20 of my friends to spend a night at the zoo with me.

And so the dream of a zoo sleepover could have stayed a dream forever, if someone on twitter hadn’t sent out a message, wondering if it was ok to do this as an adult. And the Wellington Twitter community – awesome as we are – jumped up and down in joy about this idea. It didn’t even take long to find a volunteer (lovely Amie McCarron) to get the sleepover Tweetup at the zoo organised.

Sure I wanted to be part of this! Unfortunately Kai had already planned a trip to Australia for that week, so he couldn’t come with me. But luckily¬†Nick was keen too, and so he joined me for the adventure. Not that I wouldn’t have survived without him – there were some others I know quite well, and Twitter people are usually super friendly and sociable – but it’s always nice to share a special adventure with a close friend.

Last Saturday evening we all gathered at the zoo, unpacked mattresses and pillows and met our guide for the adventure. She gave us some background information and then we were allowed to explore the zoo after hours. When it started to rain we got shelter at the craft centre, where we built fancy monkey ‘enrichments’. Which translated into non-zoo speak means ‘wrapped-up treats for which the monkeys must work hard to get through to the delicious core’. We were also shown the kitchen (including frozen mice in the walk-in freezer), and some people did a little contest to see who could eat giraffe food fastest.

Back to our over night accommodation (which was overseeing the monkey island from an angle I hadn’t seen before) we split into smaller groups and played Werewolf for a while, as well as an American game called Dirty (I think that was the name). You split into groups and read out very dirty sounding clues to each other, which lead you to guess a completely harmless word. It was heaps of fun.

What followed was a pretty much sleepless night – I guess I’m simply getting too old to spend the night in a room with more than 20 people who snore, receive text messages, snore, get up to go to the bathroom, snore and snore. And receive text messages. All this while outside the window some cranky ducks have family fights and the monkeys of Monkey Island scream and scream. Funny enough all this didn’t really matter. Although I hardly got any sleep all night, it was a little magic to lie there in the dark, listen to the sounds of people breathing and turning around in their sleeping bags. I really enjoyed the night too.

Next morning I managed to get up early enough to get a shower. The Archibald centre at the zoo is not really luxury accommodation, and there was only one shower in the disabled toilets, but after a sleepless night a shower works wonders and I felt quite refreshed when I joined the others again. We had coffee and were tweeted about before we went on an early morning tour through the zoo. It’s pretty awesome to see the animals waking up, having breakfast and being curious about visitors, before they are getting bored from being stared at during the day when hundreds of people storm the zoo. We also got the chance to feed the monkeys with the enrichments we had built the night before. Sad that the time flew by sooooo quickly!

We could have stayed at the zoo for as long as we wanted after it had opened its doors for regular visitors, but Nick and I chose to have food instead. So we met Bex, Leo and Kim at a cafe on Oriental Parade, where we told them all the stories of the fantastic night at the zoo…

Iris March 29, 2012 at 11:07 pm

sounds like you had lots of fun!

Nick April 2, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Certainly was a great experience. Had a lot of fun with everyone seeing the out of hours side of the zoo.

Our monkey food grenade was totally the best out of all of them too!

So many different choices of sleep wear :-)

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