Friendly Spider Programme

Whilst we are pleased to have reopened our Zoos with limited capacity, due to the current COVID-19 guidelines in place, we have chosen to postpone our Friendly Spider Programme until the end of year to ensure we are able to operate our Zoos safely for our visitors, staff and animals.

For those looking to book for 2021, Dates will go on sale on 1st November 2020.


Do you have a spider phobia? Then it's time you joined our Friendly Spider Programme where we will help you to overcome your fears.

There is no good reason to have a spider phobia, they're harmless and extremely beneficial invertebrates whose survival depends on avoiding such large, lumbering threats as ourselves.

However, 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.

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

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, imparted by Dave. 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

  • 2:30pm: Arrival of participants at the Zoological Society of London Meeting Rooms.
  • 3:00pm: 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.
  • 3:50pm: Everything you ever wanted to know about spiders, but were afraid to ask. Talk and Q&A session presented by Dave Clarke, Head of the Invertebrate Conservation Unit.
  • 4:30pm: Break. Beverages and biscuits served in the lobby.
  • 4:50pm: Group hypnosis session by John Clifford.
  • 5:30pm: Visit to the Zoo's invertebrate collection to see our display spiders.
  • 5:45pm: Meeting with British spiders, training in catch-up, and presentation of certificate of completion + chance to meet their Mexican cousins.
  • 7.00-7.30pm: Programme finishes.

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

Take a look at the guest pack for more information. If you already booked on the programme, please read this pack PDF icon Guest Information Pack - FSP ZSL London Zoo.pdf (881.03 KB) (881.03 KB)


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.
  • General admission is not included and must be purchased seperately
  • We recommend wearing loose comfortable clothing
  • Tickets are for personal use and may not be sold on
  • For participants with a disability or learning difficulty, please contact us on for advice before purchasing any of our experiences.
  • Wheelchair access is available for this experience
  • We may have to change or cancel the date of an experiences for reasons such as the minimum number of participants has not been reached, extreme bad weather, staff shortages, animal welfare issues or force majeure. We will endeavour to notify you as soon as possible if this is the case. Regrettably, we cannot cover travel, accommodation or any other related costs if we are forced to cancel a date.
  • 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

If you have any questions about booking please feel free to contact us

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

Please note: ZSL members receive a 10% discount on this experience, there is also a 30% concession rate available for senior citizens, registered students, persons on income support and under sixteens. Please call us to book on 0344 225 1826 or email

How to book

  • Book online here
  • Call us on 0344 225 1826

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.


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 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

Any questions please call us on 0344 225 1826 or email

Tickets for 2020 now on sale!