Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team
Date: April 8, 2022 4:30 pm
A female regal jumping spider is seen sitting on a leaf at ZSL London Zoo
Photo Credit: ZSL
ZSL London Zoo have added a group of regal jumping spiders to their family as they prepare to relaunch their friendly spider programme. The program helps arachnophobes to overcome their fears and maybe even begin to love these eight-legged critters.
Regal jumping spiders are miniature, neon colored creatures measuring just 22mm long but they can jump up to six times their own body length from a standing start. This feat is achieved through a sudden flexing of the leg muscles while a silk line trails behind to provide a safe landing.
As if that wasn’t impressive enough males perform dances to impress potential mates. Their four legs are used to perform elaborate moves in hopes of impressing the female.
Dave Clarke, ZSL London Zoo’s Head of invertebrates and Friendly Spider Programme leader, said; “At just 22mm regal jumping spiders may be small, but are very cute as they have recognisable ‘face’ with forward pointing eyes and some of the best vision in the spider world.
“We know spiders aren’t loved by all, in fact arachnophobia is one of the most common fears in the UK – with more than 18% of the British population affected by it. But we’re determined to cure as many of those people as possible.
“We’ve made it our mission to quash as many myths about spiders as possible and help people overcome their phobia, converting spider-squishers into bug lovers through our world-leading Friendly Spider Programme – and I think these cute new arrivals are going to be a big help.”
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The zoo’s friendly spider programme is run in partnership with the entre of Clinical Hypnosis and engages a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy and hypnotherapy to ease and eliminate arachnophobia.
In just four short hours course coordinators aim to make participants confident enough to catch house spiders with a cup and card so they can move them outside, earning themselves a certificate of success.
This is achieved by providing expert information on invertebrates from expert course leaders before taking part in a hypnotherapy session which helps to reframe the mind’s response to spiders. In a final challenge guests are taken to the zoo’s Tiny Giants habitat where they can meet the regal jumping spiders or enter the United Kingdom’s only spider walk-through.
Dave Clarke added: “As well as helping to alleviate a phobia that can seriously impact your day-to-day life, the Friendly Spider Programme has directly supported wildlife conservation projects for invertebrates, including the successful reintroduction of the native semi-aquatic Fen raft spider. This species is listed as threatened in the UK, but the fen raft spider’s range is now increasing thanks to conservation efforts.”
A male regal jumping spider is held by a keeper at ZSL London Zoo
Photo Credit: ZSL
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