Friendly Spider Programme

Please check your travel options before you book. Dates for 2023 will become available on the 1 November. 

Do you have a spider phobia? Millions of perfectly rational people are terrified of spiders. No matter how much they try to calm themselves, the response remains the same: sweating, nausea, panic, rapid heartbeat and worse. But spiders are harmless and extremely beneficial invertebrates whose survival depends on avoiding such large, lumbering threats as ourselves. Join us for a session with a hynotherapist and zookeeper, and let us help you overcome your fears.


Your experience

  • An afternoon course designed to ease or eliminate the condition of arachnophobia
  • The course is a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy and hypnotherapy
  • Opportunity to speak to our spider expert and an expert hypnotherapist
  • You can bring someone with you for support, free of charge. Please note, however, that they will not be able to participate


What to expect on the day

The Friendly Spider Programme begins with an explanation of how phobias can become established, by hypnotherapist John Clifford, followed by a series of questions to the participants designed to comprehensively clarify just what it is about these animals they don't like.The Zoo's spider expert, Dave Clarke, then provides the facts on these animals (addressing all the comments raised in the earlier Q&A session) proving there really is nothing to be afraid of.

After refreshments, participants will take part in a group hypnosis session designed to remove any remaining negative subconscious feelings about the animals and support the newly-acquired positive feelings. The Friendly Spider Programme concludes with an optional visit to the invertebrate collection in the Zoo's BUGS! building. Here participants can, at their leisure, practice calmly catching British house spiders and even meet one of their cousins, our friendly Mexican red-knees. Great care is taken to ensure that the programme is as stress-free as possible.

The course takes place in the Zoological Society of London's meeting rooms. No animals, photographs or illustrations are used until the end part of the course.


Schedule of events for the Friendly Spider Programme

  • 2:30 pm Participants arrive
  • 3:00 pm What are we afraid of? How phobias become stuck in our subconscious mind. Group Q&A session with hypnotherapist John Clifford of the Centre of Clinical Hypnosis.
  • 3:50 pm Talk and Q&A session presented by Dave Clarke, Head of the Invertebrate Conservation Unit.
  • 4:30 pm Break
  • 4:50 pm Group hypnosis session by John Clifford.
  • 5:30 pm Visit to the Zoo's invertebrate collection to see our display spiders.
  • 5:45 pm Meeting with British spiders, training in catch-up, and presentation of certificate of completion + chance to meet their Mexican cousins.
  • 7:00 pm Programme finishes.



We appreciate that it's a strange concept, losing a lifelong fear of spiders in a single afternoon, but the results of the course speak for themselves. Since the programme began in 1993 we have treated more than 5,000 people aged from 7 to 82. And although we cannot guarantee success for everyone, follow-up analysis shows that more than 80% of participants report that they now remain calm, confident and relaxed when they encounter a spider.

Since the course, I can honestly say I feel like a new person. It has changed my life... I have a 9-year-old daughter... and I have been able to show her what I achieved on the day at the Zoo and how I have been before. I knwo she will now grow up to be calm and OK around spiders... Once again, thank you! (Sam W, 2018)

Find out what other people thought about the Friendly Spider Programme

If you have already booked onto the programme, please read this pack ahead of your arrival: PDF icon Guest Information Pack - FSP ZSL London Zoo.pdf (881.03 KB) (881.03 KB)


Things to Know Before You Book

Important information before booking your Friendly Spider Programme place:

  • Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult, adult guardians must sign the consent form included in the guest pack. Accompanying adults do not need to pay for a place.
  • One non-participating support person allowed free entry.
  • General admission to London Zoo, if you wish to visit before the Programme commences, is not included and must be purchased seperately
  • We recommend wearing loose comfortable clothing
  • Please arrive on time, we advise guests to arrive at least 15 minutes before the programme begins
  • Please see our full terms and conditions for more information

Frequently asked questions can be found here. Alternatively, to manage your booking please visit

Please note that admission to ZSL London Zoo is not included


  • Friendly Spider Programme takes place on select dates between April and September


  • £150 per person

ZSL Gold Members, Patrons and Fellows receive a 10% discount on this experience. Please enter your CRM ID in the Offer Code box.

A 30% concession rate is available for senior citizens, registered students, persons on income support and under sixteens.


How to book


Get sponsored to face your fear…

Why not ask friends and family to sponsor you for taking part in the Friendly Spider Programme?

By asking friends and family to support you in overcoming your phobia of spiders, you could also be helping ZSL to ensure the survival of many threatened species. 

As an international wildlife conservation charity, we work in over 50 countries around the world to protect wildlife and their habitats. With your support we can do even more.

Set up your fundraising page now by going to . Setting up a JustGiving page is a great way of maximizing every opportunity of sponsorship. To find out more about sponsorship please email

Course fees:

  • Adult = £150
  • ZSL Gold Member = £135 (10% discount)
  • Concessions = £105 (30% discount)

Concessions are senior citizens, registered students, persons on income support and under sixteens.


3pm - 7/7.30pm

To manage your booking, please visit