Dreamnight at the Houston Zoo Welcomes Patients for a Magical Experience
On Friday, the Houston Zoo welcomed over 600 children being treated at local hospitals and their families for Dreamnight at the Zoo. These special guests had exclusive access to the zoo as they explored all of the animals exhibits and activities the zoo has to offer.
“We really love to give these kids a chance to experience the zoo in a more intimate setting,” said Lauren St. Pierre, marketing manager of the Houston Zoo. “They have treatments and doctor appointments, so it is really important for us to get them out here to have a nice evening with their families, see their favorite animals, have fun and get a break from all of the troubles they are dealing with.”
Each year on the first Friday in June, zoos around the world welcome chronically ill and disabled children, with their family and friends, to enjoy the magic the zoo has to offer. Since its inception in the Netherlands in 1996, Dreamnight has grown to include 285 zoos on five different continents.
“We started Dreamnight at the Houston Zoo in 2009, and I have been putting it together for the past seven years,” said Toni Noble, Houston Zoo volunteer. “The Zoo is truly a happy place and it means the world to me that I can help to show these beautiful children the wonderful animals we have here at the zoo.”
This year, 3.5-year-old Quinn, a former patient at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, brought her grandparents, Brenda and Dan Worden, to partake in the Dreamnight festivities.
“We saw the elephants, and I really want to see the flamingoes and the bat cave,” Quinn said.
Dreamnight could not have come at a better time for Quinn. This past Sunday, Quinn’s brother, Jonah, passed away after being hospitalized at Children’s Memorial Hermann for the past 18 moths.
“It has been a really tough week, but we are really thankful to be here with Quinn tonight,” Brenda said. “Quinn has been totally fascinated by the animals and activities.”
Children in attendance had unlimited access to all of the Houston Zoo attractions, including the brand new McNair Asian Elephant Habitat and the Nature Connects exhibit by Sean Kinney, featuring 12 animal habitat sculptures built with LEGO blocks. Zoo employees, volunteers and sponsors also set up a tent for dinner featuring live music, face painting, games and dancing to make for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.