Ask the Teachers
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers to our most commonly asked questions are below.
If you can't find the answer you need here, get in touch with us.
Phone 07429 867013
Please note, the best time to call is after 6pm. We are in encounters during the day so it can be difficult to catch us on the phone in normal office hours. Afterall, our office could be anywhere from a wedding to a nursing home on any given day! You can drop us a text or email during the day with your location, the type of encounter you would like, approximate number of handlers, and if you’d prefer a morning or afternoon visit.
INsurance, Licensing, Risk Assessments
Are you qualified?
The Creature Teachers is owned and operated by Lisa Kiely, and a small team of staff. Lisa has a degree in Zoology and a masters in Animal Behaviour. Prior to starting The Creature Teachers in 2010, she worked for several years in zoo education and animal encounters and displays. Learning about animals, and sharing that knowledge in an inclusive and accessible way to a range of audiences, has been Lisa’s career for 20 years. Lisa takes care of every booking, from the point of contact right through to delivering your bespoke encounter. For larger audiences, a staff member will come along too. The team includes experienced professionals who have worked in the Animal Keeping, Early Years, S.E.N., and Caring sectors, personally trained by Lisa to deliver creature encounters that engage a range of audiences from exciting birthday parties, S.E.N and animal therapy sessions, national curriculum linked school visits, and early years bookings.
Are you insured?
We are covered by Employer, Public & Products Liability insurance to the value of £5,000,000. A copy of our insurance documents will be sent to you with your other booking confirmation paperwork.
Are you licensed?
To operate a mobile animal encounters business we must have two licenses. Due to changes in animal welfare laws in October 2018, a new animal license is being rolled out across the country. The current Performing Animals License is valid until April 2019. Animal encounter companies must undergo an inspection prior to this in order to receive a new license and continue to operate legally.
The first is a 'Performing Animals License'. This is secured through our local council, following an inspection by one of their animal welfare officers. They check the animals, how we care for them, their enclosures, our risk assessments, health and safety documentation, any special licenses we need to have particular species, information on how we run our encounters, how we train our animals, how we transport the animals, to name but a few areas the license covers.
The second license is an Animal Transport license. This is also checked during the Performing Animals License inspection. This document is issued through the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs and covers the correct transportation of animals.
Do you have risk assessments?
Yes, we have risk assessments to cover every animal that comes along to encounters. These can be provided for your records. We also provide you with a health and safety document that covers everything we will do to ensure high standards of health and safety are met before, during and after our visit to you.
Can the animals bite/scratch?
As with any animal with teeth and/or claws there is potential for biting or scratching to occur. We take every precaution to ensure that this risk is minimal.
Before an animal is included on our encounters team, we ensure that it is habituated to human contact first. Many of the animals are hand reared by us, and all are handled by us daily, so are quite used to being around humans by the time they come along to their first encounter. It takes time before an animal is ready for an encounter, and when we feel they are ready, we eventually introduce them to small audiences first, earning their stripes step by step until they are a fully fledged encounter team member.
All staff are experienced with the animals and will give instructions during the encounter to ensure the audience is interacting correctly with the animal.
We know our animals, we interact with them daily and if one does not seem in full spirits we do not bring it out to an encounter. We also monitor all the animals during each encounter, ensuring that they are their usual happy self throughout.
All the animals come to encounters on a rota basis, and we keep our audience size limited to 30 handlers per encounter to ensure that an animal is never over handled.
What about allergies and phobias?
It is the responsibility of the person in charge of the group to let us know of any animal related allergies or severe phobias. We will ask about allergies and phobias before we start the encounter. If you are aware of an allergy or phobia, let us know in advance and we can avoid bringing the animal concerned, or we can take steps to ensure the person is not exposed to the animal during the encounter. We will email you an allergy/phobia document which can be sent to parents/guardians to sign off so that you can be made aware of anything that we should know about. In the case of phobias, it is not our aim to cure anyone of an animal phobia, but we can introduce them to the animal in a responsible, safe and educational way.
What about germs?
All of our animal enclosures are cleaned daily to minimise the build up of disease causing germs. Animals receive appropriate vaccinations, flea and worm treatments etc. Encounter participants are given clear instructions on safe hygiene practice before, during and after the encounter. We provide hand sanitising gel during the encounter and give instructions to the person/s in charge to ensure all hands are washed thoroughly with warm, soapy water once handling is finished. We remind adults to ensure that children do not put hands near their face or into their mouth during handling. We do not allow eating during the encounter.
What kind of encounter will you provide?
Every encounter is different given the variety of different audiences we visit, a birthday party for a 7 year old is very different to an encounter at a nursing home, for example. All our encounters are presented indoors. We will discuss the best encounter for you during the booking process.
Can I request a particular animal for my encounter?
We will go through the content of your encounter during the booking process and will recommend the best encounter for you. Our encounters include a mix of 'exotic' (e.g. snakes) and 'domestic' (e.g. rabbits) animals. If you request a particular animal, while we aim to bring it, we cannot guarantee it in the line up on the day, e.g if our royal python is about to moult he cannot be handled, but we will bring another snake in his place. Likewise if you do not want a particular animal to feature in the line up, we can replace it with another.
Can I hold all of the animals?
We make each encounter as hands on as possible, ensuring that this is in a way that we feel does not impact on the animals' welfare. We will make the level of handling that will be possible for your encounter clear when you book so that you know what to expect on the day.
Booking, deposit, Payment, cancellations
How far do you travel?
For a one hour encounter we travel a maximum of 1 hour from H.Q. in Bournemouth. If you are interested in several encounters during the day for your event we will travel a greater distance. To work out distance, we use AA Route Planner, so you can check if we cover your area by going to that site, or please get in touch to discuss.
How much notice do I need to give you to book a visit?
The sooner the better, especially if you have a particular date in mind. We take bookings over a year in advance so, to avoid missing out on your date, it's best to get in touch as soon as possible.
What is your group size limit?
For a handling encounter with 1 Creature Teacher present, the maximum group size is 15. For a group size with 15 to 30 handlers, 2 Creature Teachers will be in attendance. If you have a group size of up to 50, 3 Creature Teachers will come along. Prices vary according to the type of group/ number of staff of Creature Teacher staff involved. We work hard to ensure we deliver the best encounter possible, and we want you to get the most out of our visit. This is why we have a limits.
Can I make a provisional booking?
We are happy to hold a time slot for you for 24hrs at no extra cost. If we do not hear back from you within 24 hours, we will not be able to contact you to check if you still want the date and it will be free for others to book.
How do I secure a date?
This will be discussed during the booking process, but to summarise:
For private events, such as a birthday party, all payment is required in advance. A deposit of £50 is due within 7 days of receiving the invoice to secure a time slot. If there is less than a month between the date of booking and the encounter, you will be required to pay the full amount within 7 days of receiving the invoice. For bookings made farther in advance, a deposit of £50 is due within 7 days, with the balance due within one month of receiving the invoice. Please check the refund section below for further information.
For full day bookings a percentage of the total fee will be required within 7 days, with the balance due in advance of our visit to you, at a later date.
For companies, your date is secure from the point of booking confirmation.
What booking confirmation will I receive from you?
You will be told at the point of booking when to expect your booking confirmation email.
For birthdays and other private events you will receive your booking confirmation email with your invoice, invitation, health and safety, terms and conditions once you have confirmed your booking and sent us all requested details.
For nursing homes, schools etc you will receive your invoice, poster, health and safety, terms and conditions approximately one month in advance of our visit, unless required sooner.
What if I need to cancel my booking?
Cancellation terms will be displayed at the bottom of your invoice. To summarise:
For private events such as a birthday party, you will get a full refund of all payment received, as long as you give us 4 weeks notice prior to the encounter date. If you cancel with 1 to 4 weeks notice you will get a partial refund of all but £50 of the fee. If you give us less that 1 week of notice that you wish to cancel the encounter, you will not receive a refund, however you can reschedule the encounter for another date within 1 year of the original encounter date at no extra charge.
Similarly, for full day bookings, a full refund will be given upon receiving 4 weeks notice prior to the appearance, the percentage of the total used to secure the booking will be deducted if we receive 1-4 four weeks notice. You will not receive a refund if you give us less than 1 week of notice.
For groups such as schools and nursing homes you will be charged £50 if you cancel with less than 5 days notice. If we arrive at your venue and you cancel the booking you will be charged the full fee for our visit to you.
What if The Creature Teachers cancel the appearance?
We do our utmost to ensure that we do not have to cancel an encounter, but in the event that we must, despite our best efforts, we will give you as much notice as possible, and offer you the next available date at a discounted price. If an alternative date is not convenient for you, you will receive a full refund.
How do I pay?
You will receive an invoice via email which has a breakdown of the price, payment deadline and our bank details. We do not take payment over the phone.
Are you GDPR compliant?
Your personal information will never be shared with third parties, and financial data is not stored. You will only be contacted by us, with your consent and with regards to your booking.
Jobs & volunteering
There are currently no paid positions available within the team. If you are interested in a volunteer position please email your C.V. This role may be suitable for someone who needs animal experience for college/university animal course applications.
Volunteer positions include animal handling and care of invertebrate, reptile, mammal and bird species. Hours may be any day of the week. Your working day will start between 8am and 9am, and finish between 4pm and 5pm, though half and full days are available. Working outside cleaning animal enclosures is part of the position, regardless of the weather, so please bear this in mind when applying for a position.
Creature Teacher H.Q. is based in Bournemouth, about 40 minutes by bus, or 15 mins by car from the town centre.
Please send your C.V. and cover letter to email@example.com .