In December 2017 over 1,300 children with disability, parents, siblings and carers experienced the magic of Victoria’s inaugural Dream Night at the Zoo. The event was organised by The Association for Children with Disability with support from Zoos Victoria and Gandel Philanthropy, and it was a huge success.

One Mum, Lisa, had this to say….

“Gandel, ACD, Melbourne Zoo and everyone involved in planning such an event tonight we thank you dearly, because nothing was left out.

I have never been to an event/anywhere that truly made it easier for such special people to have the opportunity to visit the zoo. For years, I wanted to take our autistic boy to Melbourne zoo, but rode it off as being too big & overcrowded.

But with the help of so many people who gave up their time tonight to engage us, include us & direct us made such a visit possible & made it a calm, happy, achievable experience.

Thank you for the Meet & Greeters on arrival, ACD staff scattered around in their purple tops to assist, Zoo staff & volunteers at each enclosure, thank you because we would have missed the butterfly house & avery if someone wasn’t there.

Also would have missed elephant that was behind fence if a volunteer didn’t point it out. But what was a truly amazing experience was the encounter with the seals due to fake fish used…wow to have them so close & active, we all knew we were experiencing something truly wonderful and a one off experience.

The extra activities that were put on and organised especially for tonight were so engaging, well staffed, well thought out & appropriate.

Even providing event information during the week, so we were prepared was a huge help before arriving, so all focus was on child going through the zoo.

Thank you to everyone who made tonight possible, you all really put 100% thought into everything. It showed the process was thought through with empathy -through the eyes of parents with special needs & the children themselves.

Such organisation of such an event should be used as a template for organisations wanting to engage & include families with special needs.

Thank you again for such a wonderful, memorable, achievable event. You made so many people happy tonight and empowered them knowing that people do care and we can be included with dignity.”