Opening times

The Friendly Spider Programme is fully booked for 2023

Type of place
Orange zone
Bookings suspended

This experience is wheelchair accessible. 

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.

Friendly Spider Programme logo


Curing spider phobia 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.
  • If necessary, you can bring someone with you for support, free of charge. Please note, however, that they will not be able to participate.

Register your interest

The 2023 dates for the Friendly Spider Programme are fully booked.

Please register your interest to be notified when dates for 2024 are available:



Quotes from participants on the Friendly Spider Programme

  • I came all the way from Belgium to attend the friendly spider course on June 4. People who saw my picture of me holding a tarantula at the London zoo claim I must have not been THAT scared. But omg are they wrong! I was struggling with my phobia ever since I was little. This course has changed my life for good. I realised that the mind is such a powerful tool and that I can pretty much conquer everything. I want to tackle other fears now. I wish I did this course sooner!!
    - Samantha F, June 2022
  • I genuinely consider this to be a miracle, and the thing I’m proudest of in my whole life so far. I’d heard the programme was good, but it completely surpassed any hopes I had.
    - Sarah H, May 2022
  • Thank you so much for this wonderful and successful course. Like many others I believe this has changed my life.
    - Ross O, April 2022
  • All the team who were so professional and put everyone at ease.
    - Seiji L, June 2022
  • 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 know she will now grow up to be calm and OK around spiders... Once again, thank you!
    - Sam W, 2018
  • The best money I have ever spent having my life-long fear cured, and I can now go on my holiday to Australia fear free - thank you ZSL!
    - Liberty L, Sept 2017
  • The Friendly Spider Programme has honestly been one of the best things I've ever done...There aren't many experiences in one's life when you can say that they are truly 'life changing' but this is one of them.
    - Julia W, Sept 2017
  • I cannot believe how relaxed I am when I see a spider now. The results have been amazing, and completely life changing.
    - Chloe D, June 2017
  • Can’t thank you enough, it’s been 35+ years of being terrified, gone in an afternoon.
    - Kate M, June 2017
  • It has truly changed my life. I feel in control and at ease for the first time in my life and will be forever grateful to you and the team for your hard work and commitment to the course.
    - Sam L, 2016

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 invertebrates at Tiny Giants. 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 our meeting rooms. No animals, photographs or illustrations are used until the end part of the course.

Schedule of events for the Friendly Spider Programme

  • 2:30-3:00 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.
  • 7:30 pm Programme finishes.

Price and dates

  • £150 per person, Friendly Spider Programme takes place on select dates between April and September
  • A 30% concession rate is available for senior citizens, registered students, persons on income support and under sixteens.

Friendly spider programme availability 

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

Manage your booking

Please note that admission to the Zoo is not included

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 [email protected].

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