News | Cubs100 launch: the Wildest Birthday Ever!
Cubs from across the UK joined the animals at London Zoo this weekend, to mark the launch of the Cubs100 celebrations.
It’s a beautiful crisp winter day at London Zoo, in the heart of Regent’s Park. In the monkey enclosure, a group of Cubs are feeding the black-capped squirrel monkeys. The tiny monkeys are high up in the trees, but as soon as they see the food they come skittering down the branches.
Ethan, a Cub from 3rd Squirrel’s Heath, Romford, has a huge smile on his face as he holds scoops out mealworms – the monkeys’ favourite.
“I’ve never been this close to a monkey before,” he says excitedly. “Their faces are so tiny!”
The Cubs are here for a very special event. 2016 marks the Cub Scout centenary, and to kick off this historic year Scouts and London Zoo have worked together to throw a really wild birthday party. 44 lucky Cubs are spending the weekend here, coming face-to-face with the animals by day, and sleeping overnight in the B.U.G.S. exhibit.
The day began very early for Lois, Max, Hannah and Lucas – Cubs from 40th Fife Touch, Dunfermline, and 7th Braid, Edinburgh.
“We had to be at our Scout hut at 4.30am,” says Lois. “Then we got on an aeroplane to come here.”
The 44 Cubs and 22 leaders at this event represent every UK region and nation. This is the first event to bring together Cubs from all over the UK in this way, and it’s an exciting experience for everyone.
“Often you don’t get the chance to meet people from other places, you stay within your own District,” says Vermisha, a leader at 3rd Squirrel’s Heath, Romford. “It’s amazing for the Cubs to meet everyone today, to chat away with other Cubs they’ve never met before. They’re developing some really important social skills.”
It’s been a similarly positive experience for 1st Bury Cub Pack. With only 19 members, the opportunity to forge links with 1st South Bersted Air Scouts today has opened doors for them. Before this event, they had known of each other’s Group but never met.
“We thought it would be nice to link up before this trip,” says leader Alison. “The Cubs met each other and made friends, and now we plan to stay in touch and do joint activities.”
Throughout the afternoon, the Cubs get the chance to meet and greet the inquisitive Humboldt penguins, feed the llamas and giraffes, and go into the lemur and rainforest enclosures. They also get to see the amazing range of wildlife at London Zoo – from butterflies to tigers, gorillas and meerkats.
The clumsy penguins turn out to be popular. Cubs from 177th Erdington Methodist, Birmingham, and West Hatch, Castle Cary, press their noses to the glass penguin tank, watching them swim through the crystal clear water and then waddle out of the water across the rocks.
“I got a selfie with the penguin! He swam right past me!” says Gabrielle. She shows her new friends the photo on her camera, beaming from ear to ear.
As night begins to draw in, the Cubs collect their belongings. They make the short walk across the dark zoo, full of strange noises, to the bug house which will be home for the night. Just along from a bath full of house spiders and the ant tank, the brave Cubs roll out their sleeping bags.
“We’re not scared,” say Liam and Matt from 51st St. Stephen-on-the-Cliff, Blackpool. “Sleeping with the creepy crawlies will be creepy but it won’t bother us.”
Grace, from 4th Portadown, County Armagh, is putting on a brave face too.
“I’m nervous and excited,” she says. “I’ve invented a new word- nervoucited!”
The fun at London Zoo this weekend is just the start of a whole year of local and national Cubs100 adventures. Around 150,000 Cubs will be getting involved with the celebrations, meeting new friends and making life-long memories.
For Gemma and Craig, leaders at 3rd Washington, Sunderland, their weekend at London Zoo has been a great experience.
“We’ve been absolutely buzzing all weekend,” says Gemma. “It’s been amazing. The Cubs have been absolutely brilliant – and this is only the beginning of the year.”