What is Wildlife Educators Coalition?
We are public charity comprised of a group of exotic animal lovers. Members of the coalition each own a small menagerie of exotic animals. Working together, we create experiences for our audiences that are entertaining and educational.
What do we do?
We take our animals to various venues to do exhibits and/or presentations. Such as: Birthday Parties, Schools from pre-K to College, Senior Care Centers, Children’s Day Care Centers, Summer Camps, Corporate Events, State Parks, Museums – anywhere we – human and our animals – are treated with respect. We have a partnership with Letchworth State Park with a successful annual Wildlife Festival and Vendor Fair. We will continue to partner with Letchworth State park to provide content for field trips and adult programs at their new Humphrey Nature Center.
You will get a close up look at some animals that many of you may have never heard of before and some that will surprise you.
Why do we do what we do?
We do what we do because we love and respect all animals. We are fascinated by them and hope to invoke a deeper feeling for Mother Nature and all her children with these close-up experiences. The personal stories that we tell help people understand that an interactive relationship with a living creature is a rewarding experience as well as a job. What we get back, we feel, is much more than what we give. We hope the information – science and lessons on care and commitment – help people in choosing a companion animal, understanding the commitment involved and then honoring it.
How long has the WEC been around?
WEC was founded in January of 2009. For most of us, animals – large and small, domestic and exotic – have always been an important part of our lives.
How do we work?
WEC conducts its operations through:
- Staged presentations: themed presentation for small or large audiences
- Animals are kept in travel cages when not being handled so there is no mess, nobody crawling or flying around.
- Stations: individual exhibit tables with one or two animals and a speaker at each. Participants cycle through the stations for a close look, sometimes a touch, verbal presentations and Q&A.
- Exhibits (various sizes): A full exhibit includes all of our members and their animals and would cover a line of nearly 100 feet end to end.
- Exhibit animals are in cages, on perches behind tables or in collapsible pens where participants can engage in physical interaction with the animal. We have lots of volunteers and we always have an animal to talk about in hand.
- Private Parties: We bring a small number of animals, most that can be petted. We require that the host provide a seasonally appropriate location and a 6 to 8 foot table.
The animals are kept in their crates unless we are handling them to avoid site contamination and/or runaway animals. At the end of the party, we usually invite people to approach with questions or to physically interact with the animals.
What kind of animals do we have?
We have arachnids, insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals. We have alligators, birds, an African cat, rodents, rabbits, lemurs, monkeys, and more. Among all the members we have approximately 60 different species and over 200 individual animals. Except for some of the reptiles, they live in our homes as our pets.
Where do we get our animals?
Many are re-homed. There are instances where people get exotic pets and find that they cannot make and keep the necessary commitment to them. Cute, gives way to noisy, destructive, unmanageable, etc. There are qualified breeders here and around the world who breed animals for people like us and for zoos or circuses, or for wild release. These are our sources if we want to buy a specific animal. New York State requires licenses that include our obligation to integrate the exotic animals, as we do, into education programs.
Are there different kinds of programs?
We group the animals according to themes or we can customize a program for you. Some of our themed programs include:
- Hiawatha & Friends (Umbrella Cockatoo with 300 word vocabulary!)
- Diversity of Life (species from the various classes of animals)
- Rainforest Wonders (bugs, reptiles, mammals & birds)
- Primarily Primates
- Bug Zoo
What are our fees?
We offer 4 different Programs:
- Basic Program: includes up to 5 exotic animals and lasts up to 45 minutes, fee is $175.00. Perfect for unforgettable birthday parties, library programs, nursing homes, scouts and more.
- Premium Program: includes up to 12 exotic animals and 1-1.5 duration. With some of our premium animals, fees ranges from $2,000 – $2,500. These programs also fulfill NYS Education Standards so they are great for schools, science fairs and museums.
- Custom Program: can range from $125 for one person and one animal to $20,000 for a full blown wildlife festival. You choose theme for your event and we will custom design a program for you. Think Wildlife Festival or extra special children’s party or corporate event.
- New – Comfort Critters: includes pet-able animals – perfect for young children and seniors who like to hold and pet animals. Price based on number of programs and critters.
Do we have insurance?
We carry appropriate levels of liability insurance.
Do we have special licenses?
We comply with all Federal, State and County licensing requirements. We are subject to both scheduled and unscheduled inspections to insure that our animals have adequate, humane living conditions, safe enclosures – safe for the animals on the inside and the people on the outside. We maintain and have available for appropriate review detailed records of our educational engagements. We maintain and provide for review detailed documentation about the kinds of enrichment activities and equipment we provide. (Keeping up with the laws is expensive, time consuming and detailed.)
How far in advance should you book a program for your event?
Obviously, the sooner the better. Spring and summer are our busiest seasons, but we try to be flexible. There are six of our members who conduct individual programs so theoretically we can be at a maximum of six locations at the same time.
When is payment due?
We prefer payment in advance or on the day of the event. We do make exceptions and accept the fact that some large companies–conglomerate senior cares and government agencies for example often cannot pay on the day of the event. We do appreciate as much help in expediting payment is possible, though.
What happens when you schedule a date?
Clients are asked to complete a short program request form that gives us the details we need to generate an accurate invoice. We send you the invoice with all our contact information, our EIN #, the date and time of the event. For birthday parties and some other events we can create a small color poster that can be used for ads or invitations or just a souvenir.
We generally arrive ½ hour early for regular programs, 1½ hours early for a big exhibit. We need tables and shelter. As we work with tropical animals, site temperatures are very important to us. If the event is held outdoors, we need a tent or canopy. If the event is held indoors, we need floor space for the animals and to keep participants at a reasonable distance. Space is, of course, dependent on the size of the program and number of animals. These details will be discussed at the time of scheduling.
Note:People get exotic pets without knowing what they’re in for. People die, move away, marry a person with allergies, have life changing accidents or contract serious illnesses which makes them unable to care for their pets. Not everyone wants an exotic pet so it might not be possible to find family members or friends who are willing and able to take these animals. People move to places that will not allow certain pets or any pets. The various Humane Societies and the Zoo sometimes call us with animals that need new homes. We are not a rescue group or a sanctuary, however, we sometime take new animals. If we can’t take an animal, we do what we can to find someone in our network who can and will give the animal a good home.