As the Founder of Zovargo, a zoo that brings animals to you—I have had the honor of sharing our animals with thousands of children over the years and I’ve seen a lot of parties. And while some are over-the-top, most are successful for the reasons listed below. So if you’re thinking of adding animals to your next special celebration, here are the things to consider to make your party the happiest celebration yet.

1. Location, Location, Location
Having animals at your party will certainly be an exciting, if not, the most exciting part of your party. Try to avoid parks and busy public locations because you don’t want other children from the playground to drop into your party. It’s distracting from your special event, and can be challenging for the animal handlers because they have to keep track of which children are part of your party or just drop-ins. Choose a private location, like your home, but also make sure there’s enough space for the guests to spread out and be comfortable.

2. Animal Selections
While picking the animals is sometimes the most fun part of planning your animal party, keep in mind which animals the children will really enjoy. And while it’s hard to stray away from impressing your own friends, remember—it’s a kid’s party, not an adult party. Experts that are bringing the animals have lots of experience. Trust me on this and listen to their suggestions! The animal handlers know their animals, and they know what species works best for different age groups. So many times I have had people request the “largest animal you have” for a toddler party. This never works out well as tiny people are scared of large animals. Listen to the experts and go with what you know your child will love!

3. Look for a Unique Experience
The days of traditional petting zoos are fading as more people become aware that lots of tiny people trampling around a corral of animals isn’t the perfect idea of a party. This is old-school and is unsafe, unsanitary, and stressful for animals. Zoos like Zovargo, travel to you and bring enough staff to provide a safe experience that is manageable and highlights each special animal one at a time.

It’s also helpful to look for places that offer a special experience with the animals instead of just an opportunity to pet them. For example, who can say they’ve shaken the hand of a duck? This is just one type of extra-special experience that will leave some lasting memories for the children and your guests.

4. Manage Your Wild Guests
Plan ahead for late arrivals. To do this, have your guests arrive 30-60 minutes ahead of the animal program start time. As the animal handler, we have had to delay our start for late guests more times than I can count. While this is not a problem, consider that the animals are sitting in crates just waiting for their time with the children. They may have traveled an hour (or hours) to get to your party already and then we all wait which is unfair to everyone. Another party tip? Mind the adult chatter. Yes, it’s a party, and parents sometimes like to let loose, but be mindful that adult chatter can cause a distraction from the animal program forcing the animal presenters to have to speak louder than the parents so the kids can hear. To prevent this, I suggest having an “adult area” if some parents want to catch up while the children are entertained.

5. Avoid Too Many Activities at the Same Time
Usually, the animals are the main attraction, but sometimes there are five other activities happening at the same time! Be mindful, that booking other services like face painting, magicians, caterers, and jumpy houses are all great, but be careful with scheduling too many things. You don’t want to waste money by giving a small group of kids too many things to do while at your party. It’s sometimes best to have one main attraction or activity, and let the kids play the rest of the time. As one of “the animal people,” it’s always a let-down when kids hear pizza has arrived, then they quickly run off to eat. Be mindful of distractions like this and keep a schedule in mind to be considerate of the people you’re booking for your celebration.

6. COVID Considerations
It’s nothing new to consider doing a virtual party, but a ZoomFari virtual animal party takes things up a notch! There are many zoos that offer virtual animal celebrations.  Zovargo offers the reasonably-priced ZoomFari virtual party that allows guests to see animals literally eye-to-eye. This type of party can unite family from all of the world and provide everyone a unique experience together.