Rent this raptor: Ann Arbor nature center enlivens Zoom meetings with wildlife-for-hire

February 17, 2021, 5:28 PM

An animal attraction in Ann Arbor offers a clever way to spice up group video chats and support its educational services.

"Add one of our wildlife ambassadors to your next business meeting," posts the nonprofit Leslie Science & Nature Center. "Make your next virtual meeting 'wild'!"

This red tail hawk is one of five guests that can "make your next virtual meeting wild."
(Photo: Leslie Science & Nature Center)

The 50-acre center, on land donated to the city in 1976 by a University of Michigan chemical engineer and his wife, came up with the idea of charging $50 to $100 for Zoom call apperances by five species and a handler. "From having an owl front and center on your screen, to watching fruit bats munch away at their afternoon meal, this ... [will] brighten any virtual meeting room," the organization says at its Wildlife Zoom Room page.

A barn owl, red tail hawk, fruit bat, hedgehog and a boa constrictor are available via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx and other conference platforms.  

"We can't guarantee they'll provide any feedback," adds the center, which provides a staff member "to share their story and answer any questions." In addition to work groups, the innovation is aimed at children's parties, family calls and other virtual socializing.

The fee is $50 for 15 minutes or $100 for a half-hour. Here's the booking page, with choices of dates and times.

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