FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Are you insured?
Yes, we have public and product liability insurance up to £5,000,000. If you require details we can provide documentation when you make a booking.
Are you DBS (previously CRB) checked?
Yes, we all hold an enhanced check and copies can be provided if required.
Are you licensed?
From April 1st 2019 all animal encounters companies must operate under new licensing by law. This is part of ‘The Animal Welfare (licensing of activities involving animals) regulations 2018’ and completely replaces the previous Performing Animals Licenses, which are now null and void.
We finished our application in February 2019 and had a very successful inspection from Central Bedfordshire Council on March 6th. Teaching Talons have been granted a 3 year license with 5 stars (the maximum length and rating achievable). Our new license number is 19/017833.
Please note that ANY company running activities with animals (including places like pet boarding, pet shops, riding stables etc.) MUST have a new AAL (Activities with Animals License) and are operating illegally if they don’t hold and carry one. Please ensure any animal services you use are still operating legally.
Do you have a risk assessment?
Yes, we can provide a copy of our risk assessment and can provide you with any advice and information you may need to help you complete your own.
Are your staff experienced?
Our main presenters (Becky, Lindsay, Russ & Tara) are experienced animal encounter presenters. Becky, Lindsay & Tara are experienced zoo keepers and Becky also previously worked as lead education officer at Combe Martin Wildlife & Dinosaur Park. Becky, Tara and Lindsay all hold relevant animal husbandry and care qualifications- with Becky holding a BSc. (Hons) degree in Applied Animal Behaviour & Training. Please see our 'About Us' page for more information. Presenter CVs are available on request. We also have a small team of volunteers that occasionally attend bookings with us, all of whom are fully trained with existing animal experience.
Are your animals from the wild?
No, our animals are captive bred by responsible breeders, private collections and zoos within the UK. We also have many rescues and ex-pets in our collection that have been adopted by, or donated to us. All of our rescues are captive bred, with the exception of our marginata ovum snails, who were rescued after being wild caught and imported for the food industry! Unfortunately they cannot be returned to Africa and they are our only wild caught animals. We do not know the full history of our rescue tortoise, Strawberry as her elderly owner suffered from Alzheimers. We don't advocate any of our Animal Ambassadors as pets due to the incredible responsibility of caring for animals.
Can I hold every animal?
We pride ourselves on our team of well-handled and habituated animals, so all of them are used to being held and/or stroked depending on the species. We do not allow people to stroke the owls or handle our tarantulas or amphibians. Unfortunately under 5’s cannot stroke or handle the animals, but can still get up close. Whether you can hold or stroke all the animals depends on the animal and the type of booking. For example, at large events with lots of guests not everybody will be able to interact with everything due to time constraints and as we don’t want our animals to get stressed or bored. As a result we recommend a maximum of 15 guests at birthday parties. We recommend a larger maximum of 30 pupils per school session. Despite these recommendations we can cater for any number of guests, at any occasion and aim for each audience member to interact with at least one animal and to see them all up close. We can also create a ‘stand’ area at events like wedding receptions and larger parties/occasions so guests can come and go throughout the event and have more opportunity to meet the animals.
Do your animals bite?
Any animal with teeth or claws has the ability to bite or scratch, however ours are well handled, habituated and used to people so it is highly unlikely. Our experienced animal handlers provide full instructions on how to correctly stroke, interact with and handle each of our animals and this is done under full supervision at all times. Animal welfare comes first so we always monitor our animals behaviour to make sure they are not frightened, stressed or over handled to further minimise risks.
Can I have specific animals at my booking?
We can do tailor made quotes and bespoke sessions so you can let us know if there is any animal you particularly want us to bring. The welfare of our animals is always our top priority. As a result, the animals at your event may be subject to change, although we will endeavour to meet your requirements where possible. This can be for a variety of reasons, for example some of our animals may not suit a particular event (eg. due to weather in an outside setting). They may be feeling under the weather or reptiles may be shedding their skin. In these circumstances we will not bring them.
Does my venue/classroom have to meet certain requirements?
You must get permission from your venue to check they are happy for animals to visit. Please feel free to pass on our details if they require more information. Parking and space to unload must be available at your home or venue to enable us to set up your animal encounter and park during the event. We ask you to reserve a suitable parking space for us. Hand washing facilities with soap and warm water must be available, although we will also bring hand sanitizer with us. Access to an electricity point is desirable at certain bookings, particularly for longer or outdoor events and we can provide our own extension cables. For parties, classroom sessions and similar bookings you will need to ensure the room is large enough for all attendees. Teaching Talons (The Animal Ambassadors) Ltd. can cater for both indoor and outdoor events. For outdoor events a gazebo or marquee pitch is desirable although we can provide our own 3x3m gazebo. At outdoor events access to an electricity point is desired and we provide our own extension cable. We do have alternative, none-electrical heat sources. If we encounter particularly adverse weather conditions and we feel it is no longer appropriate for the animals; we will need to move inside or pack away early as our animals welfare comes first. For multi-session bookings we ask to run all sessions from the same room.
Do your animals carry germs?
All animals will carry some forms of germs and bacteria (even humans!) and this is why hand washing is so important. People are not allowed to eat or drink while interacting with our animals and we discourage hand to mouth activity. We promote and recommend hand washing with warm, soapy water after handling or touching any animal and we also bring hand sanitizer with us. All our animals are well cared for and kept in clean, well maintained enclosures with their health monitored closely. We worm and mite treat our animals and submit faecal samples to be screened for parasites as relevant and necessary. We bring cleaning equipment, including disinfectant with us to clean up after the animals and to wipe down surfaces they may have come into contact with. Any waste is taken away with us after your booking.
Do I need to pay a deposit?
For any booking we ask for a minimum £50 deposit, which confirms and secures your booking. Deposits may vary depending on the type of booking and location. Once your quote, booking date, time, requirements etc. have been decided we will ask for this. All deposits are non-refundable unless Teaching Talons (Animal Ambassadors) Ltd. have to cancel your booking due to unforeseen circumstances, in which case you will be fully refunded unless another booking date can be arranged. Please ensure deposits are paid promptly and in advance.
How do I make a payment?
Deposits can be paid via BACs transfer, in cash or by cheque (cheques must be received no less than two weeks before your booking so they can be processed). The final remaining balance can be paid via BACs transfer or in cash on the day. If full payment has not been made by, or on the day of your booking, we will not be able to carry out your Teaching Talons session. Unfortunately we currently only accept final balance cheques from schools and colleges.
Do you charge for travel and are there any other charges added to bookings?
We have no travel charge for any location within a 20 mile radius of our base in Flitwick, Bedfordshire. Any booking further than 20 miles from Teaching Talons has no charge for the first 20 miles each way. It is then 50p per additional mile, there and back. You will be asked to provide a venue post code when you enquire about a booking and we will provide you with a mileage cost in your quote. Bookings in London will incur an additional surcharge due to travel time and potential congestion. The extra charge varies depending on London location. Locations further than 40 miles, or 1 hour from our base may also incur an additional distance surcharge, which you will be made aware of when you enquire. There is also an additional surcharge on evening bookings, which varied depending on location.
What areas do you travel to?
We cover the whole of Bedfordshire and a wide surrounding area, although additional charges as described in 'Do you charge for travel?' may apply. Areas that we cover include Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, London, Oxford, Cambridge, Essex and much more! We can also cover more long distance locations when required, please get in touch if you are unsure.
Can I cancel my booking?
Bookings can be cancelled as long as at least 1 weeks notice is given. Unfortunately your deposit is non-refundable but if you have already paid in full the rest of you booking cost will be refunded. If you need to cancel but would like to re-book/change the date of your booking due to a change in circumstance, your deposit will be kept towards your rescheduled booking.