Animal House connects exotic animals with the community

The second annual Pioneer Creative Activities and Research Day was held on April 24 and showcased the creative and scholarly activities of University of Wisconsin-Platteville students, faculty and staff. One of those projects was the Animal House, which has a mission to educate the Platteville community by introducing people to exotic organisms in order to generate interest in the biological sciences and teach the importance of conservation efforts, proper animal care and providing animal care, enrichment research and outreach experiences for zoology and animal science students.

Animal House is a class that oversees the care of about 30 exotic animals and participates in public outreach events. “Animal House helps to rebuild the reputations of some animals and teaches people that animals, such as emperor scorpions and ball pythons, are not really as dangerous as they might seem,” said Kelsey Gille, one of the project leads.

As part of their community outreach efforts, the group recently attended a Lancaster Community Schools STEM night to share information with children and parents who were able to learn and interact with the animals.

“Parents sometimes seem to be more afraid of animals than children are, which can in turn teach kids to be afraid of harmless animals,” said Gille. “The outreach we do teaches both children and parents about the animals we have.”

Gille, along with Katie Jones, Paige Bastian, Tara Reichling and Allison Sheldon were present during the first poster session to speak about the organization and were accompanied by a Madagascar hissing cockroach, a Russian tortoise and a crested gecko. The rest of the group included Bailey Graf, Jacqueline Sturm, Jessica Wells, Katherine Kalcik, Kayla Schneider, Kerry Scanlan, Madison Hoppman, Michael Brown, Tyler Prust, Zachary Adams, Sarah Bauer, Alicia Brisbois, Allie Gray, Amy Pietruszynski, Andye Rangel, Kieran Surges, Marianna Upchurch and faculty advisors Dr. Rebecca Doyle-Morin, associate professor of biology, and Dr. John Peterson, assistant professor of biology.

The first of the two poster sessions featured 90 College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science senior design projects and diverse projects from across campus that connected students with community partners to engage in work that brought benefits to both.

Animal House is located at 324 Boebel Hall. During the school year, students in the Animal House program receive class credit for biology.