Now you can invite a real-life bird of prey to your next virtual meeting or online get-together, thanks to the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota.
For a $75 fee, workplaces can request an eagle, and for $50, can invite a falcon or owl to join the first 15 minutes of their meeting. But according to the Tribune Media Services, the program called "Raptor Zoomie" is currently closed to the public during the pandemic.
"It just provides an injection of something different. You send us your Zoom link and the time you want the bird on the meeting, and they will join in," said Julia Ponder, the center's executive director.
The Raptor Center decided to see if they could find a digital outlet for some of their birds after seeing similar programs run by zoos and animal sanctuaries around the country. They tested the concept in internal meetings first.
"We've had a couple of them in, on some of our own staff meetings. You know, it just does something to be able to watch these birds doing their thing and vocalizing while we're going through another Zoom meeting," Ponder said.
So far, Minnesota birds have hopped on to a virtual family reunion, video calls to long-term care facilities as well as corporations and individuals, she said.
The raptors don't log on to a computer, of course, but have a camera pointed at their perch, Ponder said. And some raptors have proven more vocal than others. The center also offers raptor flight demonstrations via Zoom and a virtual live program where those watching can ask questions.
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