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Wildlife Safari introduces 'Zoomfari' virtual tours

Wildlife Safari staff said they started the program as a way for visitors to enjoy and learn about animals during the pandemic.

Posted: Dec 10, 2020 7:10 PM
Updated: Dec 10, 2020 7:38 PM

WINSTON, Ore.--Wildlife Safari is bringing their animals to your computer screen with their new “Zoomfari” program.

The program is an animal encounter, but it is done virtually over Zoom.

Wildlife Safari staff said they started the program a few months ago when they wanted to find a way for visitors to keep enjoying and learning about the animals during the pandemic.

“We’ll have animals walk away from our Zoomfaris or walk up really close, so it’s always an exciting adventure,” said Education director Leila Goulet.

Goulet said participants can choose from a wide variety of animals in the park to see live on camera.

“Keepers will do a talk about them, then kids will have the opportunity to ask questions then have them answered,” said Goulet.

Right now, they said they are focused on bringing this program to teachers and students, especially with in-person field trips canceled because of COVID-19.

Goulet said their program also align with the Oregon Educational Science Standards, so the students can still meet those benchmarks while they’re virtually meeting with the animals.

Gina Evenich, a fifth grade teacher at Green Elementary School said she has an encounter scheduled next week for her class. She said she has done a Zoom field trips in the past and they have been very successful.

“Virtual learning is extremely hard for these kids,” she said. “This would help them relate more to what we’re learning and it keeps them engaged.”

However, Goluet said the encounters are not limited to schools. She said they have the capability to do a “Zoomfari” all over the world.

“We actually had a lady from New York City contact us and she wanted it to be a surprise for their zoom meeting,” she said.

The encounters cost $300-$500 to book.

However, Goulet said they are grants available for teachers who want the experience, but need the extra help.

While the Safari Village is closed to the public, the park’s drive-through is open during the current shutdown.

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