Teacher’s Checklist

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 sparrow debacle)
  • 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 animal?
  • 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, etc.)
  • 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

Debrief students:

  • Have them write thank you letters to the presenter stating one to three things they learned; this helps the presenter improve future programs.
    • Appreciation for their time
    • Evaluation of program with praise for strong points and suggestions if 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 animals.
    • References:
      • Project Wild activities: “What’s Wild?”, “Animal Charades”
      • 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?
  • 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 form).
  • 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 are formed)
  • Communication
  • Daily activity patterns, annual activity patterns
  • Time of year born, how many to a litter, age to maturity
  • Length of life
  • Size, weight
  • Evolution/Taxonomy
  • Adaptations for their life style and environment
  • Geographic range of species
  • Status of species in the wild: if declining, stable or increasing, why?
  • Relationship to other species/ecological contributions to environment
  • 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 animal.

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 sizes)
  • 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 this food?
  • 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?
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