Dream Night campaign banner. A magical night of discovery and intrigue on 12th October at Melbourne Zoo.

Melbourne Zoo comes alive for Dream Night

07 September 2019

Every October, Melbourne Zoo is transformed into a place of wonder for families of children with a disability who may otherwise find it difficult to visit the zoo during the day.

In partnership with the Association for Children with a Disability, Melbourne Zoo will host ‘Dream Night’, an after-hours event at the zoo for children with a disability and their families.

Dream Night was born out of Zoos Victoria’s commitment to ensure that Healesville Sanctuary, Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo are accessible to every child and every family.

Our zoos are for everybody, no matter who they are, where they come from, the language they speak or the barriers they encounter.

The annual evening began in 2017 and gives children with a disability and their families an opportunity to experience the wonder of wildlife together in a safe and stress-free environment, away from judgement and other barriers that sometimes stop families from going to the zoo together.

It also aims to help parents feel confident visiting places within the community, such as the zoo.

Attended by more than 400 families every year, Melbourne Zoo undergoes a transformation that includes accessible rides and infrastructure brought into the zoo as well as face painters, craft activities, a silent disco and bubble blowing stations set up on the lawn areas.

There are also AUSLAN interpreters and language support on hand for keeper talks, and performances from community groups on the stage.

As an organisation, Zoos Victoria is focussed on compassion and advocates for the compassionate treatment of both animals and people.

Zoos Victoria staff members volunteer their time to help run the evening, with many finding it one of the most important things they can do as a member of the zoo community.

Meeting some of the families who attend the night reinforces why the Dream Night initiative is so important.

Many families are unable to visit the Zoo on a day-to-day basis and, as a community organisation, it means so much to us. This year we aim to host 600 families – welcoming 2,400 people through our gates in a safe and welcoming environment.

Father watching happy baby play with bubbles at Dream Night.

As an organisation we believe in a universally accessible experience for all and we know there is work to be done in making this goal a reality, but to be able to provide the opportunity for families to come to this evening meant the world to us.

The evening is free for members of the Association for Children with a Disability and Zoos Victoria’s community partners, with registrations opening in September 2019.