London Zoo starts UK-wide hunt to find the nation's biggest arachnophobes

Mexican Red-Kneed Spider ZSL London Zoo. (c) London Zoo (1).png
Mexican Red-Kneed Spider Credit: ZSL London Zoo

London Zoo has begun a nationwide search to find Britain's most terrified arachnophobes to face their eight-legged fear in a special event this May.

The zoo is celebrating 30 years of its Friendly Spider Programme which helps give coaching and guidance to people who struggle to cope with facing spiders alone.

The programme which aims to turn participants into spider lovers has helped more than 5,000 arachnophobes travelling from as far as away America and Australia to take part.

The zoo says it has a 99% success rate. "For three decades we’ve made it our mission to squash myths about our eight-legged friends and help people overcome their fear of spiders - as part of ZSL’s work protecting species in the UK and across the world. "Arachnophobia can be a very intense and debilitating fear.

"Previous participants on the programme have been unable to hear the word ‘spider’ without feeling ill, some can’t look at the green leafy tops of tomatoes because they are reminded of spiders, while others have gone as far as to sell their house after seeing a spider - one even confided they’d dropped their baby after seeing a spider close by. However extreme, we’ve helped them all."

Orb spider Credit: London Zoo

The zoo wants to find a 30 of Britain's most terrified arachnophobes to learn all about them from experts and take part in a hypnotherapy session.

The group will also experience the Zoo’s Tiny Giants exhibit, home to the UK’s first walk-through spider exhibit ‘In with the Spiders’. The team of spider specialists aim to have all 30 arachnophobes confident enough to catch native house spiders with a cup and card by the end of the afternoon.

"Not only does this programme help people face their fears, it also protects spiders, fosters respect for nature and raises funds for ZSL’s important work protecting threatened invertebrates in the UK and around the world,” added Dave. "So if you think you’re one of the 30 most frightened arachnophobes in the UK, get in touch and tell us how your fear affects you – we want to help," he said. The Friendly Spider Programme’s fear-busting 30th celebration will take place on 27 May 2023 at London Zoo.

To learn more and apply for one of 30 exclusive free places head to Applications close at midnight on 3 April 2023.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…