Face your fears! Shropshire zoo launches sessions to get close to creepy creatures
Bosses at one Shropshire zoo think they and their creepy-crawly friends get a bad press and have launched Face Your Fears sessions.
Enter staff from Virgin Balloon Flights, who as an alternative team bonding session agreed to get up close and personal with the residents of Telford Exotic Zoo.
The Stafford Park business teamed up with the zoo in aid of the company's chosen charity, The British Lung Foundation.
Six staff members met with animal presenter Sam Jones, who introduced them to the tree frogs along with Bowser the Asian forest scorpion, Sid the corn snake, Olive and Sweet Pea the Burmese pythons, Tony the tail-less whip scorpion and Charlotte the tarantula.
Hannah Keane and Maria Wilkinson were two of the staff members to take up the challenge, with Miss Keane holding the spider and Mrs Wilkinson holding the two scorpions.
"I was absolutely terrified when Sam put the first scorpion in my hand – I couldn't even look at it to start with," said Mrs Wilkinson.
"But the Exotic Zoo team are so calm that they really do put you at ease. It also helped that the animals were pretty chilled out too, as I'm not sure what I would have done if Bowser had gone running up my arm.
"I'm really glad I did it though. I've been petrified of scorpions since I was a five-year-old so it was a huge thing for me to be able to hold both the scorpions they had at Exotic Zoo."
Before the challenge itself the Virgin Balloon Flights team had sessions with Pete Bryceland, a master practitioner of neuro-linguistic programming from Telford to try to reduce their fears.
Miss Keane said the sessions had definitely helped.
"I wasn't sure I would be able to do it when we got there and they got the tarantula out. I did almost lose my nerve but forced myself to go through with it," she said.
"A huge thank you to Sam and everyone else at Exotic Zoo, plus our NLP practitioner Pete. Thanks to them, I don't feel half as scared of spiders as I did before."
The challenge was the first major staff fundraiser of several planned throughout the year for the British Lung Foundation by Virgin Balloon Flights.
With £3,500 already raised towards their £27,500 goal for the British Lung Foundation, staff are confident of hitting their target.
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