Home Environmental education Betsy’s traveling zoo offers animal education – Oxford Observer

Betsy’s traveling zoo offers animal education – Oxford Observer

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Betsy McCall is living the dream every animal lover aspires: her home is a zoo of her favorite creatures.

McCall has always been a great animal lover, particularly appreciating more unique animals. His current roommates include a skunk, three bearded dragons, two ferrets, two turtles, two king pythons, a tarantula, a tegu lizard, a leopard gecko, and several dogs and cats. She has the necessary permits and licenses to own the animals, as well as a background in environmental education from the University of Miami.

His business started with a passion for showing off his animals and educating children about the wildlife around them. When she brought her pets to a home daycare, the owner recommended that she start charging a fee for bringing the animals, which led to Betsy’s traveling zoo.

McCall now charges $ 25 to bring three animals to an event in Oxford and $ 5 for each additional animal. She charges for gasoline if she goes to an event outside of Oxford. She said she expects prices to increase in January.

Miami student Madison White holds Ivan the ball python, one of the animals at Betsy McCall’s traveling zoo, which is named after the way it curls up into a ball for protection. Photo taken by Hailee Perry

Some of the animals were acquired through wild animal relocation groups to which McCall belongs, while others are from ranchers. More exotic animals usually require a longer process, such as being a certified wildlife rehabilitator for three years.

McCall says she spends between $ 200 and $ 250 a month on food for her pets. The diet of animals ranges from live rats to strawberries to freeze-dried mice.

McCall’s Zoo star tends to be his brown skunk, Princess Dexter. The skunk’s name first appeared when the McCall family thought they were going to catch a male skunk, but when she grew up she realized it was a female. Thus, Dexter became Princess Dexter.

Princess Dex was scented at birth, a common practice used by skunk breeders. She has a lot of personality, is quite intelligent, and even cuddles with the family.

A skunk is one of the few exotic animals that can be legally kept in Ohio, but there is an extensive process that potential owners must follow to do so. McCall first applied for a permit on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) website. His breeder had to be USDA certified, a wildlife officer had to examine the skunk, along with the USDA bill of sale, and McCall had to renew the license annually.

Princess Dex rests on Betsy McCall’s shoulder after munching on fresh apple slices. Some of her other favorite snacks are Cheeto Puffs and Strawberries. Photo taken by Hailee Perry

According to McCall, there is currently no rabies vaccine approved for the treatment of skunks. Fortunately, McCall has done a lot of research on handling animals.

McCall had several classroom interactions, including three virtual sessions with the secosd students from the Talawanda School District. A few weeks ago, she showed up in person at Kramer Elementary. She always takes extra care when allowing students to pet animals, and she constantly measures their temperament.

“People always ask if animals bite and I always say, ‘They have a mouth and teeth, they can bite, but none of my animals have ever bitten me, and we just have to be careful when we interact with them. “” McCall mentioned.

The traveling zoo has made a virtual appearance in fife Last year, teacher David Bothast’s class in Hamilton to teach students about her skunk, tarantula and monitor lizard. They had the opportunity to prepare questions for McCall as she showed and manipulated the respective creatures.

“I was looking for unique, engaging and interesting things to continue [the students’] their enthusiasm and connection to science, and encourage their participation online despite the many challenges and obstacles, ”said Bothast. “Betsy’s Traveling Zoo, with its many exotic creatures, was the perfect hanging carrot to interest and introduce my students. ”

Although Betsy’s Traveling Zoo is a business, it emphasizes wildlife education. McCall has always loved being around children and animals, as evidenced by her two children and the 15+ pets she has at home.

University of Miami zoology student Mindy LaMore said she agrees that environmental education, especially at an early age, is crucial in cultivating a greater awareness of the world around us. She said she believed Betsy’s traveling zoo could impact local school children as kids have real wildlife experiences that make nature more real.

“Teaching children about the environment also leads to teaching them how to preserve it, which makes this endeavor extremely important to begin their environmental education,” said LaMore.

Looking to the future, McCall said she hopes to strengthen her educational impact and welcome a few more exotic animals. After the holidays, she said she plans to start saving her funds for a fennec fox, which is smaller than a common red fox and has bigger ears. She also said she dreamed of owning a bird-eating goliath spider, much to her arachnophobic husband’s dismay.