Questions For The Hosts Of Live Animal Programs
To Ask Prospective Presenters
What are the license requirements for the species
you're exhibiting? Does your program comply? Request that exhibitor
send a copy of their permit.
- Mammals: federally regulated under Animal Welfare Act.
Exhibitors must have a federal exhibitor's permit (for more
information contact Dept. of Agriculture; APHIS), states,
counties and cities may have more stringent requirements
and vary widely
- Migratory birds (nearly all): federally regulated under
Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Exhibitor's must have a Possession
Permit, and/or Eagle Exhibition Permit (required if any
species of eagle is being exhibited), and/or Falconer's
Permit (for more information contact Department of the Interior;
USFWS; Division of Refuges and Wildlife, Migratory Bird
Management Office), states, counties and cities may have
more stringent requirements and vary widely
- Amphibians, reptiles, fish, insects: not federally regulated,
may be regulated by state, county or city ordinances
- Endangered or Threatened Species of any of the above:
federally regulated under the Department of the Interior,
USFWS, Endangered Species Division, Law Enforcement
- Exotic or non-native animals of any type often have special
regulations sometimes to protect the species (such as tropical
fish, parrots), sometimes to prevent release and subsequent
problems (such as to prevent repeats of the starling, English
Would you please send two references (from professional
educator and biologist)
What are your credentials? (academic and experience)
What is the program's format?
What are the three main messages of the program?
(What is your view of this animal as a pet? Is that discussed?)
How do you expect students to behave?
How long is the program?
What is the appropriate student-age for program?
What is the appropriate number of students?
Is there a fee? How is this program supported?
How long have you been presenting programs with
this animal, this species, captive animals?
How can I prepare my students to better appreciate
your program? Do you have any materials you can send me?
How do you ensure safety of the students? What
are the potential dangers? Are students allowed to touch the
Do you have liability insurance?
What space, and/or facilities are needed? Do
you have special parking requirements?
How is the animal handled? (leashed, caged, held,
What assurances can you give me that the animal
is treated humanely?
Why is the animal in captivity? Is education
the main focus of your program or group?
After the Program
- Have them write thank you letters to the presenter stating
one to three things they learned; this helps the presenter improve
Appreciation for their time
Evaluation of program with praise for strong points and suggestions
there's weak points or ways they could reach that age group better
list of things they learned.
- Discuss important points, what they liked or didn't like,
was it better than seeing a good movie or reading a book about
the animal? Why or why not?
- Encourage further research.
- Write a list of things they learned (after they've written
to the presenter)
Preparing Students for Live Animal Programs
Discuss the differences between wild and domestic
- Project Wild activities: "What's Wild?", "Animal
- Ranger Rick June 1985 article: "How to Pick a Pet"
Discuss characteristics of a good pet (not dangerous,
enjoys being with people, gets along with pets, doesn't chase wildlife,
content when leashed or penned, doesn't require more time than you
have to give it).
Evaluate the animal they're about to see; would it
make a suitable pet? (See Pet Evaluation form).
Discuss reasons for captive wildlife: education,
research, propagation for release in the wild, entertainment, stroking
owner's ego, rehabilitation. Are any of the reasons better than
others (student opinion and discussion)?
Why is the animal they're about to see in captivity?
Why are the people with the animal qualified to have it?
Discuss the behavior students are expected to display
and the reasons why (such as animal's comfort, student safety, courtesy
to presenter, etc). What are the consequences if they fail? (It's
preferable to not threaten them with being eaten by the animal.)
Research basic natural history of the animal they
will see and learn how it lives in the wild (refer to Student Research
Discuss careers they should consider if they want
to work with wild animals and the academic and experiential qualifications
that will enable them to pursue these careers.
Make a list of questions to ask the presenter.
Topics for Students to Research about the Species
Before a Live Animal Presentation
Eating habits (how, what, when, frequency, quantity)
Home range or territory size
Type of habitat needed
Is the animal social or solitary (group sizes, how groups
Daily activity patterns, annual activity patterns
Time of year born, how many to a litter, age to maturity
Length of life
Adaptations for their life style and environment
Geographic range of species
Status of species in the wild: if declining, stable or increasing,
Relationship to other species/ecological contributions to
What stories are told about the animal? How is it portrayed
in books, movies, advertising, etc.?
Does it appear in logos or as a mascot and what's implied
by the use of the animal as a symbol?
Do other cultures view the animal differently than we do?
What cultural values are underscored by our portrayal of the
Evaluating an Animal's Suitability as a Pet and
Whether a Person Can Meet its Needs
Is it a social animal? If so, how will those needs be met 24
hours a day? Can humans fulfill its social needs?
How much space does it need? (research territory, home range
What's the temperature range it's comfortable in?
Is it dangerous or a nuisance if it's loose? (kills or chases
pets, bites, eats flowers or shrubbery)
Will it be safe if it's loose? (get shot, lost, hit by car)
If it has to be confined at all times, what sort of enclosure
does it need? (contact a zoo, wildlife department)
Is it legal to have the animal? What sort of license is required?
(federal, state, county, city)
What kind of food does it eat? Will I always be able to obtain
How much exercise does it need? How much does it travel during
the day in the wild?
What are its daily and annual activity patterns? (Is it asleep
all day and active all night, does it hibernate or estivate?)
How much time will it need every day to meet its physical and
psychological needs? (What happens when I go on vacation,
graduate, get another job?)
How long does the animal live? (What changes in my life might
leave me unable to continue caring for the animal for the rest
of its entire life; changes such as going to college, having kids,
new jobs, moving, etc)
How much would it cost to build adequate fencing and shelter
as well as feed and care for the animal for a year?
Why would I want this animal?