Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Rotterdam Zoo is a 28 hectare city zoo in the Northern Rotterdam, the world’s biggest harbour and The Gate of Europe’. With almost 1.6 million visitors a year (2003), Rotterdam Zoo is one of the biggest attractions in The Netherlands.
The Oceanium is Rotterdam Zoo’s biggest project yet. This “waterworld”, officially opened in the summer of 2001, is an exciting journey through all kinds of water- related biotopes, including a spectacular walk through a 26 metre long acrylic tunnel. Looking up you can see sharks, sea turtles, barracudas and so on swimming freely overhead. The Oceanium was finished off with the cold regions of the Falkland Islands, home of the beautiful King Penguin.
But Rotterdam Zoo is more than simply a tourist attraction. During a (website) visit you can discover what the zoo has to offer and what Rotterdam Zoo places at the top of its priorities: nature conservation, recreation, education and applied scientific research. Our involvement in 65 regional and international breeding programs further demonstrates our intensive commitment to these goals.
Education is really Rotterdam Zoo’s top priority. Schools can do a number of different programs delivered by zoo educators in our three classrooms. The general public absorbs all kind of information from specially-designed species signs, themed panels and other media. Three hundred volunteers do all kinds of guided tours, info-carts, zoo camps, Blijdorp-by-Nights, observation studies etc.
Dreamnight at the Zoo
The first Dreamnight at the Zoo was organized and held at the Rotterdam Zoo in 1996. Then, it was for children with cancer from one specific hospital. That year 175 children and their families attend this magical evening. More than a decade later, this evening has spread to 177 zoos in 35 countries! These zoos welcome chronically ill and disabled children and their families and caretakers. In 2007, 67,000 families, totaling 268,000 visitors, were able to participate in this event!
Each zoo organizes the event in its own way, but in all the zoos the children are welcomed and treated as V.I.P.’s. They get a warm reception with music, clowns or other fantasy figures. The children are allowed to interact with animals and keepers and get a more intimate view of the zoo than the average zoo visitor.
Because arranging this special event is such a rewarding experience, organizers in the participating zoos are very pleased to share experiences gained in the last years to encourage every zoo in the world to join in and organize such an evening for chronically ill and disabled children. It really is a project that is well worth the effort. To learn more about about Rotterdam Zoo’s participation in Dreamnight at the Zoo, please read the 2004 IZE Journal article.
It is the dream of the Dreamnight Foundation, that all Zoos in the world will once call the first Friday of June Dreamnight at the Zoo.’ To learn more, visit the Dreamnight Foundation website www.dreamnightatthezoo.nl.