The public is receiving a first-hand virtual look at how University of Wisconsin-Platteville students are taking care of the different animals living in the Biology Department’s Animal House. The educational videos and materials are being posted to the Animal House Facebook page and hosted by Tara Reichling, the Animal House overall lead. Through the videos Reichling introduces community members to a variety of species from Daisy, a Brazilian short-tailed opossum, to Eugene the Caribbean hermit crab.
“Most of the animals we have in the Animal House are typically categorized as ‘creepy crawlies,’ so I’m hoping our educational videos will help teach why these animals are not as creepy as some may think,” said Reichling, a senior biology major from Darlington, Wisconsin. “It’s our hope to teach people more about what we do for these animals, how they influence their native ecosystems and why they’re important.”
As the UW-Platteville campus turned to alternative delivery in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Animal House Facebook videos are taking the place of planned events, according to Reichling.
“Normally throughout the semester, we would take a variety of animals to local schools, campus events and other businesses throughout Platteville to educate others about our animals, and give them a chance to see animals they may not see every day,” she said. “We are providing educational materials similar to what we might do at an outreach event. It helps us keep a bit of normalcy to how we go about the semester and potentially reach more people.”
In addition to the videos, other interactive posts include pictures of the other exotic animals like Monty, who is a ball python, information about conservation, nature walk scavenger hunts and participating in upcycled animal craft challenges.
Although COVID-19 is an uneasy time for many, Reichling acknowledges it’s an important time for Animal House to connect with community members.
“Some of the videos we have posted have reached a lot of people,” Reichling said. “We always encourage Animal House members to share the videos because we never know who they might reach. We have gained quite a few followers on our Facebook page and we have received more comments responding to questions from the videos.”
As the semester continues, so will the activities. “A lot of the videos coming up are more in depth information about more animals that haven’t been discussed yet,” said Reichling. “There will also be one that goes more behind the scenes of our current area.”
To learn more about Animal House, visit www.uwplatt.edu/department/biology/animal-house.