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How to book a school visit.
Admission to the Zoo is free, but you will need to reserve entry passes for all students and chaperones.
Please carefully read these FAQs about group reservations before booking your field trip.
What information do I need to have in order to book a field trip?
Group reservations are available for groups of 16 or more.
At the time of booking, you will be asked for:
- Total number of guests arriving together (one chaperone is required for every 10 students)
- Date of your visit
- Entry time (from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
- Departure time
- Total number of buses
- School or organization name and address
- NCES ID number (required for school groups requesting parking)
- Contact information
If your group is 15 people or fewer, you do not need to make a group reservation and can reserve general entry passes .
How do I reserve passes for my group?
Bookings will be available from Sept. 5- June 15. The summer calendar will launch at a later date.
Please visit our group reservations page for additional information and to reserve your passes. To make a reservation, select an available date from the calendar. Then, complete and submit the form.
*Group reservations must be made a minimum of 72 hours prior to the date of your visit.
Is bus parking available at the Zoo?
Spaces are limited, but school groups may be eligible for bus parking.
Reservations for bus parking and drop-off/pick-up can be made through the group reservation system, pending availability.
Reservations are required and parking spaces are limited.
Blackout dates may apply and are at the discretion of the Zoo.
Parking fees may apply and vary based on the time of the year.
Please visit our group reservations page to complete a bus parking or bus drop-off reservation.
Where can buses unload?
Groups with bus parking or drop-off/pick-up reservations must enter through the Connecticut Avenue vehicle entrance.
Upon arrival, buses will be directed to the unloading zone.
Buses are not permitted to unload or load inside the Zoo or on Zoo grounds unless they have a parking or drop-off/pick-up reservation.
Idling and parking on Connecticut Avenue are prohibited. Buses parked or idling illegally may be ticketed by the Metropolitan Police Department.
Make a Group Reservation
Please contact [email protected] if you have further questions about booking your field trip.
Get ready for your visit!
Head to the exhibits page to learn about the animals and exhibits you'll find at the Zoo.
Social narratives are resource guides for individuals with cognitive disabilities and are useful as pre-visit guides to animal areas within the park. The social narratives highlight what visitors may encounter while touring the Zoo.
In addition to showcasing animals in the collection, these guides also provide information on quiet areas, educational demonstrations, hands-on activities and artistic works.
- Amazonia Social Narrative: English
- American Trail Social Narrative: English
- Elephant Trails Social Narrative: English
- Great Ape House Social Narrative: English , Spanish
- Reptile Discovery Center Social Narrative: English , Spanish
- Small Mammal House Social Narrative: English , Spanish
- Gibbon Ridge Social Narrative: English
- Lemur Island Social Narrative: English , Spanish
- Think Tank Social Narrative: English , Spanish
During Your Visit
Animal Adventure Guide (Mobile)
Follow along with this mobile Animal Adventure Guide during your Zoo visit to learn more about the animals you see. Enjoy short videos, "act it out" challenges, species stories and more.
Ages: Grades 3-5
Open the Guide
Daily Animal Programs
Each day, the Zoo offers keeper chats, animal feedings, and training demonstrations. You can meet elephants, see sloth bears slurp ants, watch sea lions catch fish and more. Programs are weather permitting.
View Daily Programs
Zoo Crew Family Guide
This activity booklet engages children and adults together in learning about Zoo animals with games, activities, fun facts, stories and more.
Ages: Best for pre-K to grade 6
Download in English Download in Spanish
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Here is a list of School Animal Shows, Assemblies & Workshops. Browse our elementary, middle and high school Animal show providers. Inquire here about any of these providers or select one to view below.
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- PETTING ZOOS
- FOR SCHOOLS
- FOR SENIORS
Animal Encounters and Petting Zoos for Schools
Encounters for the classroom.
LOOKING FOR EDUCATIONAL AND FUN ANIMAL EXPERIENCES FOR YOUR SCHOOL? WE'RE A FIELD TRIP THAT COMES TO YOU- NO BUS REQUIRED!
We provide innovative enrichment programs for preschool, K-6 and older children in a variety of settings including public and private schools, pods, micro-schools, homeschool centers, summer camps and more. All animals are presented in a kind, non-threatening manner. Contact with animals, when school-approved, is never mandatory. Students are required to wash or sanitize hands before and after touching animals.
Our presenters are dynamic, knowledgeable and safety-conscious. We tailor each presentation to the needs of the educator, presenting relevant and age-appropriate content in a dynamic, interactive and entertaining manner that reinforces curricula and helps generate STEM interest among students.
We are USDA licensed, APHIS inspected, and insured. We carefully follow all regulations and guidelines for exhibiting animals, and are happy to work with parents or school administrators to address any concerns or school-specific policies that may exist. Certificate of Insurance (COI) provided upon booking if desired.
Have special needs students? Let us know so we can modify our presentation to meet their needs and abilities!
ENCOUNTERS PROGRAM RATES FOR PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SCHOOL CLASSROOMS, ASSEMBLIES, AND SUMMER CAMPS:
$385 1st hour, $150 per additional 1/2 hour (ALL ENCOUNTERS PROGRAMS)
Travel charge: .95/mile (Travel distance is calculated using Google Maps and is based on a round trip from south Issaquah, WA 98027).
50% non-refundable deposit required at booking. Balance due on or before day of event.
Classroom programs can vary in price depending on your needs and numbers of students. Hands-on school encounters are for 15 children or less in a session. Sessions can be 20-60 minutes with a 5-10 minute transition between sessions. For larger groups wanting a hands-on experience, we can add an additional presenter for a fee. Don't see exactly what you're looking for? Customized programming is available- we'll work with you to tailor a great fit.
Studying Australia? We provide reinforcing content through interactions with a variety of amazing animals. We touch on geography, habitat, conservation and, especially, the incredible adaptations of animals found nowhere else.
Includes: Bennett's Wallaby, Sugar Gliders, Blue Tongued Skink, Bearded Dragons, Frilled Lizard, Spotted Python, and Carpet Python.
SOUTH AMERICAN ANIMALS
South America provides a diverse range of habitats for many unique inhabitants. Learn how animals survive in rainforests, deserts and mountain environments. Includes Nine-Banded Armadillo, Patagonian Mara, Chinchilla, Brazilian Rainbow Boa, Giant Red Tegu, Red-footed Tortoise, Chilean Rose-haired Tarantula.
What makes mammals unique? We'll explore the diversity of mammals and how they care for their young. Includes Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Chinchillas, Bennett's Wallaby, Nine-Banded Armadillo.
AMAZING ARTHROPODS (BUGS)!
Learn about adaptations, exoskeletons, defense mechanisms, and more! Many creatures can be held - all can be viewed close-up with lighted magnifiers (provided). See scorpions glow under a black light - an exciting and informative program!
Includes: Chilean Rose-haired Tarantula, Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, Vinegaroon, Flat Rock Scorpion, Millipedes, Blue Death-feigning Beetles, Tanzanian Tailless Whipscorpions, and more!
REPTILES AND MORE REPTILES
Our reptile program provides an educational and entertaining opportunity to interact with and study some amazing animals. All of our program animals are uniquely suited to being handled by children and exhibit excellent representations of the amazing adaptations and behaviors present in the reptile world.
Typically includes: Ball Python, Brazilian Rainbow Boa, Bearded Dragons, Corn Snake, Blue Tongued Skink, Kenyan Sand Boa, Frilled Lizard, Milk Snake, and Argentinian Red Tegu.
AMAZING ANIMAL ADAPTATIONS
Are your students studying how animal’s bodies and behavior uniquely help them to survive? We can bring a variety of creatures with some of the most amazing adaptations on the planet. This gives your students a chance to witness and interact with these animals up close and right in the classroom!
Includes: Giant Vinegaroon, Blue Tongue Skink, Nine Banded Armadillo, Brazilian Rainbow Boa, Bennett's Wallaby, Tanzanian Tailless Whipscorpion. Animal line-up is flexible.
FUR, FEATHERS AND SCALES
Why do animals have fur, feathers or scales? Get up close to fascinating animals while learning about the role of animal coverings and discover some of the basic differences between mammals, birds and reptiles. Includes Chinchilla, Bennett's Wallaby, Nine-banded Armadillo, Bearded Dragon, Python, Bantam Chicken and Tortoise.
MAMMALS AND REPTILES
Why is one animal classified as a mammal and another a a reptile? This program will have students interact with some fuzzy and scaly favorites to find out. Included are Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Chinchilla, two species of lizards, two species of snakes.
MOBILE PETTING ZOOS
Perfect for kids of preschool age and up, our mobile petting zoo is a great way to give students a hands-on experience with animals which emphasizes kindness and empathy. We work in many settings, including public and private preschools, K-8 and high schools, day care centers, summer camps and more. Petting zoos can be held outdoors or inside and can be configured in many shapes and sizes. Our knowledgeable staff will share age-appropriate information about the animals and help children have safe, calm and positive animal interactions. Session lengths typically range from 10-20 minutes with 5 minute transitions. For Preschool and Kindergarten children we recommend 10 minute sessions. Ideal group size per session is 10-15 minutes for school age children, 10 or less for younger kids.
Our petting zoos include: Bennett's Wallaby, Patagonian Mara, Pygmy/Dwarf Goats, Rabbits and Bantam Chickens. Two or more handlers will work with your students to ensure everyone has a great time and provide age-appropriate information about the animals. We provide touch tables for our rabbits and chickens at child height for comfortable interactions.
PETTING ZOO pricing is based on several factors. Contact us for a quote today!
50% non-refundable deposit required at booking. Balance due on day of event. Travel charge: $.95/mile (distance calculated using Google Maps and based on a round trip from south Issaquah, WA 98027).
Our visit can range from an hour to all day. We'll work with your team to determine session lengths, group sizes, setup location, and other details. We'll be there rain or shine and our rates include canopies and lighting as needed.
We provide hand sanitizer and require all children to use sanitizer or wash hands before and after handling animals. Children with special needs are welcome- please let us know if they'll be participating so we can help ensure they have a great experience!
SCHOOL CARNIVAL OR OTHER LARGE EVENT?
We provide petting zoos for many school carnivals, beginning/end of school year celebrations and de-stressing events for college students. Let us know what you're planning and we'll bring a fun and fantastic program!
FOR BOOKING OR FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE FILL OUT OUR CONTACT FORM ,
EMAIL [email protected]
OR CALL (425)647-6499
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Issaquah, WA US
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Live Farm Animal Visits
Bring the Farm to You! Our live animal visits are one of our signature programs, providing real-life farm experiences for people all over Ohio. These events make the joys of farming tangible, allowing your participants to touch the animals that provide our food and fiber. Children and adults alike are delighted by holding a baby chick, watching a duck preen, or touching an animal whose coat could become their sweater. This is a fabulous way to celebrate a special occasion, reward a school or classroom, or draw attention to an event at your location or business.
Live Farm Animal Visits will provide: • Chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits, sheep, & goats • A safe and engaging event for groups of all ages • Information and education presented in a fun and exciting way • An event your participants won’t easily forget
Animals in Schools and Daycares
Animals can be entertaining and educational. But children, especially children under 5 years of age , are more likely to get sick from germs animals can sometimes carry. Children can learn a lot from animals, and it’s important to make sure they stay safe and healthy while they’re learning. If you plan to have an animal in your classroom, whether it’s a class pet or for a hands-on learning experience, be aware of the risks and how to prevent illness. You can help kids enjoy and learn from animals while staying healthy.
Animals can sometimes spread germs
Animals can sometimes carry germs that can make people sick, even if they look clean and healthy. You don’t have to touch an animal to get sick – the germs can spread to cages, bedding, and wherever animals roam.
There have been disease outbreaks from hatching eggs and chicks in the classroom and from contaminated animal products used for hands-on learning, such as owl pellets for dissection. Salmonella and E. coli are common germs spread by animals.
How to prevent germs from spreading in the classroom
- Do not bring reptiles, amphibians, poultry, rodents, or ferrets into schools, daycare centers, or other settings with children under 5 years of age.
- Adults should always supervise children’s contact with animals. Never allow children to put their hands or objects (including pacifiers) in their mouth while around animals.
- Create specific areas for interaction with animals. Do not allow animals to roam freely around the classroom, especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or eaten.
- Do not dissect animals or other animal products where food for people is prepared, served, or eaten. Thoroughly clean and disinfect surfaces used for dissection.
- Consult with parents to determine special considerations for children who have allergies, asthma, or other illnesses.
- When around animals, also wash hands after removing dirty clothes or shoes, before eating and drinking, and before preparing food or drinks.
- Adults, including teachers, should always supervise handwashing for young children.
- Use hand sanitizer if running water and soap are not available. If you only use hand sanitizer, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water as soon as possible.
- Clean and disinfect all areas where animals have been.
- Do not clean tanks, feeders, water containers, and other equipment in sinks or areas where food is prepared, served, or eaten.
- Reptiles, amphibians, poultry, rodents, and ferrets are not suitable for settings with children under 5 years of age.
- Nonhuman primates, such as monkeys and apes.
- Wild animals more likely to spread rabies, such as bats, raccoons, skunks, foxes, and coyotes.
- Stray animals and aggressive or unpredictable animals.
- Venomous or toxin-producing spiders, insects, and reptiles. Frogs, snakes, lizards, and other amphibians also may be venomous.
Check that animals are healthy before bringing them into school
- Animals can look clean and healthy and still spread germs. Make sure all animals have appropriate and regular veterinary care, and proof of rabies vaccination for dogs and cats, according to local or state requirements.
- If the animal comes from a different state or country, it may need a health certificate issued by a veterinarian to travel across state lines or to enter the United States.
- Check local regulations, as well as school policies, before bringing animals into schools.
- Contact your veterinarian.
- Take extra precaution when handling a sick animal because a sick or stressed animal is more likely be shedding harmful germs that can make people sick or to bite which can cause injury or spread germs.
- Inform the pet store or breeder about the animal’s illness or death as soon as possible. Consider waiting before purchasing another pet from the same source.
- Clean and disinfect the cage before reusing with another animal.
- Wash wounds with warm soapy water immediately.
- The animal appears sick.
- You don’t know if the animal has been vaccinated against rabies.
- The wound is serious.
- The wound becomes red, painful, warm or swollen.
- It has been more than 5 years since your last tetanus shot.
- How to Keep Children Healthy around Animals
- 11×17 Poster Version [PDF – 1 page]
- Stay Healthy Around Animals Coloring Book [PDF – 20 pages]
- One Health Coloring Book [PDF – 20 pages]
- Spanish [PDF – 20 pages]
- Information for Animal Exhibit Visitors & Managers
- Water Frogs, Aquariums, and Salmonella —Oh My! [4:26 minutes]
- Wash Your Hands if You Pet That Bunny [7:15 minutes]
- Wash Your Hands [0:51 minutes]
- Appendix 4: Guidelines for Animals in School and Child-Care Settings
- US Outbreaks of Zoonotic Diseases Spread Between Animals & People
- Cleaning and Disinfecting Pet Supplies | Healthy Pets, Healthy People | CDC
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- School Choice Guide
- School Discovery Days
Animals in Schools with Once in a Wild Mobile Zoo
We are proud to present this guest post by Amanda Winter, Founder of Once in a Wild , about how having an animal program in the classroom enhances education.
When a child visits a zoo and sees a mammal, bird, reptile, or insect for the first time, it is as if they have stepped into a special world. Likewise, bringing animals in schools through an animal classroom program , complete with new sights, sounds, smells, and information, creates a mysterious—yet exciting!—place for children to have the opportunity to connect with nature and enhance their education.
Children are naturally drawn to animals. While adults view animals, including pets, for what they can give us ( e.g. , companionship), children tend to recognize animals first as living creatures. This is why you’ll often see a child bend down to stroke the neighborhood cat, fill a container with soil and bugs from the backyard, or become upset when a fly is swatted.
A Stimulating Environment to Learn
Introducing students to small animals in a school setting helps to create an interactive experience and provides a fun educational benefit. The phonetics we use to describe what the child is seeing—a chameleon, rabbit, or scorpion, for example—can help develop their vocabulary and comprehension skills. The words we often use, and the names of our animals, often bring forth a giggle or two as well!
The best way to learn is by doing and feeling, so we often invite children to come up close. With some of our species of animals, we even allow them to have a hands-on experience. We explain each animal’s natural habitat, their quirky characteristics, and—most importantly—what foods they like to eat. This dialogue stimulates a child’s imagination beyond the everyday classroom experience.
Empathy and Compassion
There is a growing consensus that children who learn about the proper care of animals, and the wider environment they live in, become more compassionate and caring towards other people, too. An animal classroom program can create a special bond between a child and an animal, and help a child’s emotional development. Stroking their fur, touching their scales, watching their movements, and observing their natural habits all work to create an emotional bond.
This impact can also be seen in classroom behavior. The more time children spend with animals, the higher their empathy levels rise. They begin to understand that the common needs for both animals (and humans) to survive include food, shelter, and water. Additionally, the calming effect that animals can have on children often leads to positive change in relationships within the class. Bringing in a classroom pet can help students develop a greater sense of responsibility. All of these developments can greatly enhance a child’s overall education.
Learning Opportunities to Suit Every Child
Each and every child is unique, and learns in a different way from their classmates. Involvement of animals in the classroom, with its multi-sensory approach, provides each child with a stimulating environment to learn.
We know some children just love to quietly listen. Once in a Wild ’s Zoologist and Animal Specialist, Amanda Winter, says, “I talk about the animals we look after from dawn until dusk! And just know some children would be happy to sit with her all day if they could, soaking up every last word.”
However, there are also children who might become bored very quickly, and a few adults who may be like that, too. But animals in classroom settings enrich those children who thrive more on stimuli—like visuals, touching and feeling, and even opportunities to be outdoors. Those rich signals easily give them a chance to soak up the knowledge that’s all around them.
Adding a zoo animal program to your school activities delivers an incredible learning experience for children, and can greatly enhance their education in countless ways. Animal classroom encounters cater to all ages and curriculums (not just elementary schools!). It’s just a matter of discussing your educational preferences or requirements with your school principal.
Learn More About Animal Interaction in the Classroom
- Once in a Wild Mobile Zoo
- Classy Critters Animal Encounters : Classroom programs featuring live animals are a great way to educate your students.
- ZOOm Room Animal Encounters : Bringing the zoo to you via interactive virtual ZOOm Room animal encounters.
- Once in a Wild’s YouTube Channel and Facebook page
Charter Moms Chats
Watch a special edition of Charter Moms Chats, on Once in a Wild Wednesday , hosted by Amanda Winter, with Inga Cotton as guest, on November 1, 2023 at 6:30 PM Central on SA Charter Moms Facebook , Once in a Wild Facebook , and Once in a Wild YouTube . Be sure to subscribe and follow Once in Wild for notifications of Once in Wild Wednesdays, with new episodes on the first Wednesday of each month at 6:30 PM. Each time, viewers will meet a group amazing animal ambassadors, and learn all about them and their natural histories. Tune in LIVE to see which animals make an appearance! This is an interactive event, so please type in your comments and questions. Also, please help out by tagging and inviting all your animal-loving family members and friends.
Amanda Winter is a Zoologist and Co-Founder of Once in a Wild. She has worked professionally with a wide variety of animals for over 20 years, including at 5 world renowned zoological facilities. She grew up in Texas but obtained her zoology degree from the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo during her time living in Florida. Amanda specializes in animal care, training, and presenting with birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. It has been a lifelong aspiration of hers to change the world for the better by teaching others about all of earth’s creatures, whether they be great or small.
Inga Cotton is the Founder and Executive Director of San Antonio Charter Moms. Inga is the mother of Annika, age 13, and Nicholas, age 16, and on the autism spectrum. Inga is the Founder and Executive Director of San Antonio Charter Moms, a nonprofit that helps families find schools that are the right fit for their children and become advocates for quality education. Inga has lived in San Antonio since high school and has a B.A. in History from Trinity University and a law degree from the University of Texas. In 2011, she learned about new charter schools coming to San Antonio. She wanted to help spread the word to families, so she created the San Antonio Charter Moms blog in 2012. Over time, San Antonio Charter Moms became an online community, including an active discussion group on Facebook, and became a non-profit organization in 2018. Inga and her family enjoy hiking at parks and trails, going to museums and concerts, and trying new recipes and restaurants.
Read More About Animals in Schools and Education
- “San Antonio Charter Moms help us learn about our local schools!,” YouTube , July 28, 2021
- “Wild Wednesday: Mobile zoo will bring the ‘animal party’ to you,” KSAT , May 19, 2021
- “How to have a rodeo experience in San Antonio even though you can’t go to the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo at Freeman Coliseum,” René A. Guzman , San Antonio Express-News , February 9, 2021
- “Need ideas for coronavirus kids parties? These San Antonio mobile petting zoos bring the animals to you,” Richard Marini, San Antonio Express-News , October 27, 2020
- “Fostering Dogs as a Family Community Service Activity,” Ramona Gutierrez, San Antonio Charter Moms , July 7, 2020
- “Animal Shelter Volunteer Opportunities in San Antonio for Kids,” Amy Johnson, San Antonio Charter Moms , February 28, 2019
Guide to Enrolling in Catholic Schools in San Antonio for 2024–25
SAISD Rightsizing: A Parents’ Guide to School Closures in San Antonio ISD
Harmony Public Schools San Antonio Enrollment Guide for 2024–25
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Bring Zoological Society Programs to Your School
Bring the Zoo to your students by booking a Zoo educator visit for your classroom! This is a great way to help your students engage with animal and conservation curriculum when coordination and financial resources are too limited for a Zoo field trip for an entire class.
Our educators will travel to your school to deliver an interactive, standards-based lesson that includes either a live animal or animal biofacts for a personalized, hands-on experience! Teachers can choose from a number of different topics to help fulfill their science needs.
Inquire About School Programs
Schedule a Performance from Our Kohl’s Wild Theater Team
If you’re looking for educational opportunities at your school that go beyond your own classroom, check out our educational theater group! Kohl’s Wild Theater brings conservation and animal science to life through theatrical performances for schools. Our troupe of talented and educated actors bring the set, costumes, and puppets, to a school-provided space to entertain and engage with your students. Through the power of theater, students and adults alike will learn about animals and conservation and find themselves inspired to take action. Interactive pre- and post-show workshops are also available for further learning.
Pick the Perfect Program for Your Students
Zoological Society educators break down animal and wildlife themes through songs, pictures, movement, and biofacts such as fur, teeth, or bones, to help younger students connect to the material. Older students dive deeper into animals, science, and conservation through hands-on activities such as games, design challenges, and simulations. Some programs may include a live animal. These programs are available for schools a maximum of 30 miles from the Zoo. The first program is $120, and each additional program of the same type on the same day is $80.
To book a Zoo To You program for your students, look at the options below and inquire here . Our Registration Specialist will contact you.
Check out our Zoo To You At School Programs
If you are interested in booking a school program, please complete this inquiry form . We will contact you to book your program. Limited scholarships are available to reduce program fees. Mark your interest on the form and we will contact you.
Can you run as fast as a cheetah or jump as far as a kangaroo? Find out as we hand out awards to the animal kingdom’s top athletes. Practice moving like your favorite animal athletes during an animal movement game! Program is one hour at your school.
Bugs, Bugs, Bugs
Butterflies, spiders, bees and worms – which of these animals are insects and which are not? Discover the tricks to identify insects and create your own insect guide.
Is it a mammal, bird, reptile, fish or amphibian? Students will learn about animal classification and meet a mystery critter. We’ll sing a special Critter Covers song, play a matching game and touch real fur, feathers and scales. Program is 45 minutes at your school.
Creatures of the Night
Available starting in january 2024 (2 nd -3 rd ).
Discover how bats, owls and other night dwellers use their adaptations to survive in a world of darkness. We will explore our own senses as we find out what it takes to be a nocturnal creature. Program is one hour at your school.
(2 nd -3 rd )
What makes a habitat a home? It’s all about food, water, shelter and space! From dodging predators to finding food, living in the wild has its challenges. Students will investigate a variety of habitats to learn how animals survive in them. Program is one hour at your school.
Jaws, Claws, Paws
(4 th -8 th ).
Discover how predators succeed at hunting their prey. Learn through hands-on examination of skulls, claws, talons and teeth. We’ll take an active role in analyzing the predator-prey relationship and look at one of our Zoo predators up close! Program is one hour at your school.
We are very grateful for the zoo programs that travel. It is great to have “Field trip” activities in the winter.
Great balance between teaching and having the kids interact. All the students were engaged the whole time!
I love how the program changes and improves every year. I appreciate the time taken to reflect and evaluate to make adjustments and improvements.
We are always so impressed by zoo instructors and their engaging presentations. The lesson was simple for children to learn and pay attention to! Very age appropriate. Thanks so much! We plan to have you back next year.
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Our education objectives.
Our aims are more than visitor enjoyment, our mission is conservation through education. Our objectives are:
- To inform and stimulate greater interest in Britain’s native wildlife and increase awareness of the need and means to conserve it and its habitats.
- To place public education at the heart of everything we do and make it a key part in every visitor’s experience.
- To develop facilities for schools and other educational organisations to conduct teaching and field studies.
- To advance our own knowledge of British wildlife and share this with both the public and the scientific community.
Bring your teaching to life!
With our collection of over forty different species of native wild animals and our team of knowledgeable keepers, the British Wildlife Centre offers the ideal venue to learn about Britain’s own wonderful wildlife. To provide a safe environment the Centre will be closed to the public during your visit. Depending on your group size other pre-booked schools may be visiting.
School Visits: Reception to Year 7 - 'Animal Encounters'
Our ‘Animal Encounters’ schools programmes are designed to complement a variety of national curriculum skills and topics in science, history and geography for pupils at Key Stages 1, 2 & 3. These visits are based at the Centre with its collection of over forty different British wild animals and birds. This is a unique opportunity for children to learn about Britain’s wildlife – a real life natural history lesson! Our minimum school group size is 25 children (you may bring smaller groups but our minimum charge will be for 25 children). Our maximum number is 90. Dates in the spring and summer terms get booked up to a year in advance, so the earlier you can book, the better your chances of visiting on your preferred date. We are currently taking bookings from autumn 2023 and throughout 2024.
Prices September 2023 – July 2024: £10 per pupil. Prices will increase by 50p each academic year thereafter. One teacher/adult free for every 8 children. Adults over this ratio are charged at the child rate.
School visits in brief
- Just call or email us to check availability of dates
- Complete an online booking confirmation form
- Recce visit for teachers in advance, if required (by prior arrangement)
- Visit risk assessment document available
- The Centre will be closed to the public during your visit, ensuring a safe, inspiring and focused trip
- Each group has a dedicated keeper to escort them throughout the tour and provide age-appropriate animal talks
- One teacher free for every 8 children
- All breaks are taken in one of our shaded or covered picnic areas
- Drop-off facility for local schools: by prior arrangement, pupils may be dropped off from 9am onwards by parents/teachers to wait in our outdoor picnic area until the tour starts at 10am. Adult supervision required at all times.
How to book
Before completing a school visit booking form please contact us first to check availability and make a provisional booking :
By Phone 01342 834658 (office hours) By Email [email protected]
complete School Visit Booking Confirmation Form
Animal Encounters School Visit Leaflet
download Risk Assessment – Animal Encounters
Please note: Our Animal Encounters school visits are suitable for Reception classes up to Year 7. We do not take bookings for groups of younger children or widely mixed age groups during school term time.
Secondary schools Please contact us for details on cost, availability and to discuss your requirements.
Further education View details of our fully guided tours for A-level, College and University students
We’re in the heart of the East Surrey countryside and home to the finest collection of native wildlife in Britain with over 40 different native species, from tiny harvest mice to magnificent red deer.
A fantastic day out for all the family and a REAL natural history experience.
Copyright © 2023 The British Wildlife Centre
Site designed by Plumb Digital Media
- Childcare Centres & Kindergarten Incursions
- Outside School Hours Care Incursions
- Aged Care Facilities
- Fetes, Festivals and Corporate Events
- Film, TV & Photography
- Shopping Centres
- Our Animals
- BOOKINGS 0403 029 351
Curriculum Based Educational Incursions
We provide curriculum-based Educational Incursions to suit all levels from Childcare and Kindergarten through to Secondary school students in the classroom.
The students get the opportunity to learn about and to interact with some of Australia’s wonderful and unique animals without the extra costs of school buses and other complications which may occur with excursions.
We encourage the students to get outside and explore their environment and the beautiful creatures that call it home.
Areas we cover include:
- Brisbane areas (including parts of North Brisbane)
- Northern NSW (including Tweed Coast, Byron Bay, Murwillumbah, Ballina, Lismore, and surrounding areas.
All our programs coincide with several of the National Australian Curriculums.
- Helping children become confident and involved learners
- Building their awareness and respect of the natural world
Who knows, the teachers may even learn something new as well. We are also available to visit any Vacation Care venue to help you keep the kids entertained.
Price on Application, contact us now for more details or for a price.
BUGS GONE WILD SHOW
Children are thriving learners, constantly exploring the world around them.
This program offers a great opportunity for students to get up close and personal with some of Australia’s iconic Wildlife, being one of the most heartfelt and enriching experiences for their development.
All our animals are comfortable with being handled and around people, which will allow the students to have an interactive and hands-on experience.
We have a wide range of Australian Wildlife including:
Meet some of our animals here »
For information regarding our educational programs, please click on our links below:
- Australian Animals
- Animal Groups and Life Cycles
- Food Webs & Food Chains
- Living Things
- Vulnerable & Endangered Species
- Adaptations of Living Things
- Backyard Buddies & Sustainability
All creatures that the world has to offer should be explored. However, some are a little small and often go unseen.
With our BUGS GONE WILD shows, the children will get to explore all kinds of creepy-crawly critters.
Not only will the children learn about our amazing Invertebrates found in Australia, but they will also be encouraged to get outside and explore for themselves. With a hat, sunscreen, some gloves, and a magnifying glass, no bug will be hidden for long!
Students will be amazed by critters with just one foot, those that glow under ultraviolet light, and even bugs with 8 hairy legs!
Some of the bugs that students may meet include:
- Stick insects
- Giant Burrowing cockroach
- And a special vertebrate guest…….( who likes to eat bugs)
Bringing Learning To Life
Animal Visits to Schools
Exotic Explorers provide fun, educational sessions to your primary or secondary school students, whether you would like an aid in teaching or an end of term treat. We also offer some more interaction-based experiences for nurseries and pre-school age.
Our interactive sessions can help support a number of topics in animal studies and fit in to the national curriculum , and the students will get a chance to see some of our amazing animals up close. Exotic Explorers Directors Ben and Puri bring decades of experience with them, so you can be confident that your students will receive the most accurate and relevant animal knowledge.
Subjects can include Classification, Minibeasts, Adaptations, Predators/Prey, Habitats and Nocturnal/Diurnal. Scroll down for more information.
We can also provide impressive flying displays and live training sessions to excite your students' imagination.
Fully licensed, insured and DBS checked.
LIMITED TIME OFFER: Pre-book your September sessions and get £100 off a full-day or £50 off a half-day! - Book by 23rd July 2023.
We work to the national curriculum. Subjects can include:
Carnivores, herbivores and omnivores; vertebrates and invertebrates. Students will learn some amazing facts about animals and how we classify them.
Learn about the small and mighty. Making up approximately 97% of all living creatures, invertebrates are fascinating, and provide a plethora of important learning opportunities for children of all ages.
Learn how animals are adapted to survive. We take a close look at hunting methods, camouflage, extreme environments and more, to discover the captivating world of animal adaptations.
Birth, growth, reproduction and death represent the four stages of the life cycle of all animals. We can show students how some of the more interesting creatures change over the course of their lives.
See how the predator-prey relationship maintains balance in their ecosystems. How prey is adapted to survive and how predators overcome some of the ingenious techniques.
Learn how animal habitats are as different as the animals that inhabit them. What makes them survive in these habitats and how we can protect them.
Learn about the fascinating differences between animals active during the day and night. And let’s explore the window in-between together.
Our world is home to a diverse range of animals. Immerse yourself into this living world and learn about what makes it such an enchanting place.
Show 'n Tell
- 30 Minute Session*
- Up to 30 Students
- 60 Minute Session
- 2x 60 Minute Sessions
- 4x 60 Minute Sessions
*This is a short session with limited contact, ideal for younger children.
Discounts available for multiple sessions booked on same day.
Mileage charged at 50p per mile.
Some of the many schools we have worked with include:
WOW These guys visited our school yesterday for our summer fair and I can honestly say this was absolutely brilliant. They had an amazing selection of diffrent animals and the children really enjoyed the up close interaction. The team gave all the kids lots of time to hold the snakes, ferrets, pygmy hedgehogs, fancy mice and their two gorgeous brother and sister barn owls (the stars of the show for me)! Lots of information and facts for children and parents. Brilliant day and a massive thank you for coming. See more
Victoria Walter School Summer Fair
Ben, Puri, Carol and a selection of their incredible animals visited our prep school today to deliver 4 sessions to Years 2-6 and we were absolutely thrilled with the experience. The whole team were so knowledgeable about the animals and everyone (including all of the teachers) learned so much from them. The animals were clearly well looked after and all 3 of the team obviously cared a lot about their welfare and made sure that all of them, and our children, were always comfortable. All of the children had a chance to handle the animals safely if they wanted to, and it was lovely that some of the animals were free to roam around the floor space rather than always being held and/or passed. They gave us so much information and were able to answer all of the weird and wonderful questions thrown at them by the children. And of course the whole team are so friendly and accommodating. Honestly I've seen a LOT of animal experiences in different settings in my time and yours was by far the most educational! And probably the best experience-wise in general as the children had so many opportunities to interact with the animals and just "be" with them and around them, rather than a stroke and move on. So glad that we came across Exotic Explorers and already looking ahead to when we can have them back! Thoroughly recommend. See more
Jo Georgiou Oaklands School
An amazing day with these guys. Our school children loved seeing the animals, and the team were amazing with the children.
Kirsty Cable School Group
We are a children’s day nursery and today Exotic Explorers came to visit us with their amazing animals. We did not really know what to expect but their visit far surpassed our expectations and they were so professional. They brought owls, snakes, bearded dragons and rabbits and took time to explain about the animals to our children and allowed them to touch them. The owl even flew in our nursery. We are definitely going to make this a regular visit. Thank you so much. See more
Julian Butler Children's Day Nursery
A huge thank you to Ben and Puri for an amazing day! All the children and adults had the best time. Ben and Puri are amazing with the children and it was a great educational and fun experience. The animals are beautiful and so well loved. I would highly recommend Exotic Explorers. Wish we could do this all over again.
Jenna Carrington Local Group
I had the best time ever! 10/10. Amazing from start to finish.
Stacy Ramsey Virtual Experience for a large group
Our Brownies were really thrilled with the experience and were engaged the whole time. The group chat was ongoing with interesting questions, and the parents all commented on the group too and were really pleased with the session!
Clare Buxton Virtual Experience for a Brownies group
1 Kensington Road Pilgrim's Hatch Brentwood Essex CM15 9LG
Ben: 07877 701461 Puri: 07561 074340 Email: [email protected]
Website design by Michael Treeves
Free or Inexpensive Places to See Animals
Do you have an animal lover in your house? Then this list is for you! We’ve gathered all of the free or inexpensive places to see animals in our area. Nature centers, farms, smaller zoos, and pet stores… we’ve scoped out all the possibilities for you!
Are your kids into something that we can look into for you? Email us at [email protected] or comment below and we would love to compile some options… we are always looking for ideas and strive to be the best local resource we can be!
Nature Centers with Animals
Knoch knolls nature center.
320 Knoch Knolls Road Naperville, IL 60565
Outside, there’s a really neat mud-free playground; inside, there are exhibits about the river with a 900-gallon fresh water tank with live animals, a “living wall” of plants, a hands-on display of natural objects, and more. Click here to see all of the upcoming events at Knock Knolls Nature Center.
Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center
3609 Spring Road Oak Brook, IL 60523
This is a great place to see ducks and walk along tree-lined paths and a waterfall.
Hal Tyrell Trailside Museum
738 Thatcher Avenue River Forest, IL 60305
Kids can see live native animals, tour wildflower gardens, learn about local wildlife and their habitats, and more—all inside this historic Victorian mansion from the 1870s.
Lyman Woods Nature Center
901 31st Street Downers Grove, IL 60515
This is a great place to check out a real live bee hive with clear sides so you can see all of the them vigorously working to make honey!
Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center
9800 Willow Springs Road Willow Springs, IL 60480
At this large nature center, you will see a turtle habitat and many tanks with live animals. There are more birds outside as you continue down winding paths.
Hidden Oaks Nature Center
419 Trout Farm Road Bolingbrook, IL 60440
The first and second floors have tanks with different animals, including snakes, frogs, and tortoises. Read our review and see all the great features of this nature center, such as hands-on activities and a rooftop picnic area.
Lake Katherine Nature Center & Botanic Gardens
7402 Lake Katherine Drive Palos Heights, IL 60463
The lower level has animals, including many snakes, a bunny and other interesting native creatures.
Willowbrook Wildlife Center
525 S Park Boulevard Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
This site rehabilitates over 8,000 animals each year and you can sometimes see them caring for these animals through the glass viewing area. There are also cages in the same area with birds and reptiles and a circular path outside that leads to more cages with animals.
Bartlett Nature Center
2054 W. Stearns Road Bartlett, IL 60103
The seasonal exhibits at this indoor center include reptiles, amphibians, and insects.
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 N. Cannon Drive Chicago, IL 60614 (773) 755-5100
$9 for adults; $7 for students and seniors (60+); $6 for children Ages 3 – 12; Free for children under 3; family memberships start at $60.
Click here to see our full list of Chicagoland Nature Centers.
Nearby farms, blackberry farm.
100 South Barnes Road Aurora, IL 60506
In their discovery barn, kids can see chickens, sheep, piglets, baby goats and more. Non-resident admission is $7 for children and seniors, $8 for adults. The next free day is August 9, 2017.
The Children’s Farm at the Center
12700 Southwest Highway Palos Park, IL 60464
Guests are welcome to touch, pet and groom the animals which change seasonally but often include chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits, pigs, goats, cows, sheep, horses, ponies and donkeys. Admission is $6 for ages 2 and up and the farm is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm-4pm.
Want to visit another farm with your kids? Click here to see our full list of farms in our area.
1356 Gary Avenue Wheaton, IL 60187 (630) 665-5534
Cosley Zoo houses over 150 animals, representing more than 60 species. Click here to see all of the species you will see at this zoo. Wheaton residents are all free; Children are free; Nonresident Adults (ages 18-54): $7, Nonresident Adults (ages 55 and over): $6.
Phillips Park Zoo
1000 Ray Moses Drive Aurora, IL 60505 (630) 256-3860
You can see river otters, great horned owls, cougars, llamas, pygmy goats, gray wolves, bald eagles, farmyard animals, reptiles, peacocks, and elk. Admission is free.
Click here for the full list of zoos in our area.
Another great place that kids often love to visit for their animal fix, is your local pet store such as Petco or Petsmart … unless your kiddos talk you into buying a new pet!
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Things to Do and Places to Go for All Ages, from Babies to Teenagers: Activities by Age
- School Presentations
Home School Presentations
- Birthday Parties
- Public Presentations
Check Your Date:
Please fill out the form below to find out if we have your date available.
- Your party's date and start time: *
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- State * Please Choose Massachusetts Rhode Island Connecticut New Hampshire Vermont Maine We do not serve any state outside of the choices above.
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Live animal and reptile shows for schools.
Each of our presentations is specifically tailored to the children’s class and age level. Your students will learn about a number of interesting species from around the world. We also provide them with unique opportunities to get up-close with a variety of reptiles, mammals, and birds. Throughout our educational program, we explore many interesting facts about these incredible creatures. Topics such as “how does an animal’s color help it to survive” are discussed. Students will learn to recognize some animals that have warning, attracting, and camouflage colors. Your class will also learn terms such as carnivore and herbivore while observing the many different kinds of animals we bring.
Amazing Animal Ambassadors is fully licensed and insured. Our company is staffed with caring professionals that are experienced in animal handling and education. Many schools already know how easy and economical it is to have a traveling animal program come to them. Our presentations are completely flexible and self contained. They can be held in a classroom, assembly or in an appropriate outdoor educational site.
Although she is far away from her home in the woodlands and deserts of central Australia, Pagona always has a smile on when she’s on stage!
Be sure to meet her at your next school presentation.
Pricing and Details
- Our live animal and reptile shows for classes up to 30 students start at $250. Please call for pricing if you are having a larger assembly
- Reduced rates available for multiple shows per week or on the same day
- Additional fees apply for distances beyond 30 miles of travel
- Each presentation lasts between 45 minutes to 1 hour
- A professional handler will bring at least 4 large animals for the presentation and set up a table with some unique props and other small animals in cages
- Amazing Animal Ambassadors is fully bonded and insured
- A secured (no children in the area), easy access loading area.
- A table approximately 6 feet long to be provided by school if possible.
- A secured area for animal storage if necessary.
- We ask that the seating area be at least 10 feet back from presentation area. A center aisle is very helpful.
- We cannot perform outside shows unless it’s over 60°.
- Our anilmals must protected from direct sunlight.
Open Year-Round! Mon-Sat 10:00-5:00! Sundays 11:00-5:00!
School & Library Animal Stage Presentations
- Users Ages: All Ages
- Clock Duration: Custom
Educational School & Library Animal Presentations
As the Northeast’s leader in exotic animal education, let us come in and teach your students all about wildlife and conservation! We can present in any format from a small classroom setting to your schools auditorium. We have a program that fits any size group, you can learn more about our programs below. Pricing varies by distance. For accurate pricing please use the Request a Quote form below. Have additional questions? Please email us or give us a call!
Our staple program features 8-10 exotic animals presented in a hour long session where the audience will get to pet and learn about them from one of our expert zookeepers.
Our Standard Presentation with the addition of “premium exotic animals”. Choose from a list of animals you can add to your presentation that can only be handled by one of our senior zookeepers.
For the future Paleontologist in the family, we offer a one hour program featuring live animals and fossils. We teach about the relationship of today’s animals with their prehistoric ancestors. Premium add-ons are available too.
Our Masters’ Presentation is the go-to for most schools with large groups. This one hour program covers all the bases. With two expert animal handlers, we bring a large alligator or crocodile, a giant snake, Tarzan the Ring-Tailed Lemur, 3 more premium animals of your choice, a fox, and other large lizards and mammals.
The crown jewel of animal presentations! A 90 minute program with two expert handlers. You can pick any 10 animals from our traveling ambassador list. This program has been done at schools, libraries, festivals, and even large venue birthday parties. It is the most exciting program in wildlife education.
Our Anti-Bullying Program is one of the most unique presentations you will find. Presented by Ed Laquidara himself, he uses the aid of exotic animals to send the message to counteract bullying. The program is designed to stop bullying at the source by encouraging each person to be who they are.
- Chevron down Standard Animals
Alligator, Snake, Chinchilla, Ferret, Hedgehog, Rats, Bunnies, different kinds of reptiles and lizards such as: Geckos, Bearded Dragons, Tegus, Spiny Tailed Lizards, Blue Tongue Skink, and more. We also include amphibians like turtles, tortoises and frogs. Tarantulas are available upon request for viewing only.
- Chevron down Premium Animals
North American Porcupine, Brazilian Three Banded Armadillo or Screaming Hairy Armadillo, Kinkajou, Barred Owl, Eurasian Eagle Owl, Bush Baby, Skunk, Alligator Snapping Turtle.
- $100 to add one Premium Animal
- $75 for the second animal
- $50 for the third animal added
- Chevron down Elite Animals
- Fennec Fox – $250
- Pale Fox – $250
- Tabitha, the Red Kangaroo – $500
*Space and other requirements must be met for these animals to travel to your house.
Request a Quote
- Clock 2-3 Hours, Custom
- Users All Ages
College & University Animal Programs
Our college lectures are designed to open the minds of students and help them discover a wide range of topics including: Climate Change, Wildlife Conservation, Animal Rights Issues, Motivational Lectures and more.
- Clock Custom
Zoo to You Parties – Birthdays, Parties & More
Let Animal Adventures be the wild part of your next party! We are available for Birthdays, Graduation Parties, Anniversaries, Block Parties, and other special events.
Chelyabinsk Zoo: All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)
- Sun - Sat 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
- (0.64 km) Radisson Blu Hotel, Chelyabinsk
- (0.48 km) Boutique Hotel Tishina
- (0.43 km) Mini Hotel Manhatten
- (1.58 km) Markshtadt
- (0.93 km) Holiday Inn Chelyabinsk, an IHG hotel
- (0.07 km) Les
- (0.32 km) Maximilian’s
- (0.36 km) Shafran
- (0.42 km) Pelmennaya № 6
- (0.44 km) Tortillas&Grill
Critter Classes CT
Educational Animal Encounters
Critter Classes CT has the friendliest animals in Connecticut! Let our expert animal handlers educate you while entertaining you and your group with our proven animals. Book your Critter Class today!
We bring the animals to you!
Assisted Living Facilities
Our educational animal encounters are a wonderful addition to any program. We cater to all ages and can provide entertainment for adults and children alike.
We bring fun and education together with our special animal encounters at your school or function. Its fun for all ages!
Add something unique to your next birthday celebration! Our critter classes are a great addition to any function. We have the friendliest animals always ready to party!
Let the animals come to you!
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BOOK NOW FOR DECEMBER!
We amaze, educate and inspire through our ethical and engaging animal encounters.
Our ZooLab presenters and animal teams work closely with early years, schools, businesses and in the care sector to achieve learning and wellbeing outcomes.
We engage with people in an informative way through our unique animal workshops.
Our workshops are safe and easy to book. Our professional customer service team are happy to discuss the best options for you.
Whether booking a face to face or digital experience ZooLab makes learning fun.
Find out more.
We're the UK’s #1 for ethical animal encounters
“We were SO impressed with Eleanor! She kept a challenging class completely hooked and was clearly extremely knowledgeable about the animals. The children LOVED the experience and haven't stopped speaking about it."
Hutton Cranswick Community Primary School
Whether you're a young person or a young adult, we tailor our curriculum based workshops to your specific educational needs and requirements.
Our Animal Therapy sessions promote mental wellbeing and can be used in a wide range of settings. We tailor each session to fit the audience we're presenting to.
Pupil referral units
Exam stress busters
Staff wellbeing sessions.
Events and Corporate
Our hands-on animal encounters are bespoke tailored to your staff and clients. We can provide entertainment for a conference or even run an entire event ourselves!
Events & Parties
Online & International
ZooLab is a fully interactive learning experience which offers flexibility, accessibility and a unique and an effective learning experience - no matter where in the world you are!
After School Clubs
Meet Our Team!
Before your visit, we'd love you to meet our ZooLab Rangers and their animals.
ZooLab's passionate presenting team are skilled at working within a variety of settings and adapt each session to suit the age and ability of the audience.
Whether used as a therapy or teaching tool, ZooLab's unique style allows participants to find their confidence at their own pace and gain a great deal from the animal encounter both online or face to face.
Each workshop comes with a FREE dedicated resource pack including worksheets and support materials to continue the fun after your session.
The Charlotte Observer
University employee shot to death by former co-worker on campus, Texas officials say
Posted: November 14, 2023 | Last updated: November 14, 2023
A Texas university went into lockdown after a fatal shooting on campus, officials told news outlets.
The shooting happened at about 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 13, at Prairie View A&M University, campus police told KPRC.
Investigators say an ex university employee shot and killed a former co-worker at the Governor Bill and Vara Daniels Farm and Ranch, KTRK reported.
The more than 770-acre facility is “dedicated to aiding the needs of the Academic, Extension, and Research programs,” according to the university.
The employee had several gunshot wounds and died at the scene, police told KTRK. Investigators are working to determine what may have motivated the killing.
Officers caught the suspect as he was trying to drive away from the area, and he was taken into custody, police told KPRC. Officials have not publicly identified the accused shooter or announced any charges.
The university canceled classes for the rest of the day.
“Our hearts go out to family, friends, and all impacted by this tragedy,” Prairie View A&M said in a news release. “The Prairie View A&M University Police Department is leading the investigation .”
Prairie View A&M is roughly 50 miles northwest of Houston.
Man making threats against pastor is shot and killed outside church, Texas cops say
Man accused of choking dog is shot to death by animal’s owner, Texas police say
Dog attacks 3 kids during recess after crawling under school fence, Nebraska cops say
©2023 The Charlotte Observer. Visit charlotteobserver.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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AI fake nudes are booming. It’s ruining real teens’ lives.
Artificial intelligence makes it frighteningly easy to transform ordinary pictures into realistic nudes, triggering a surge of fake images of women and teens.
When Gabi Belle learned there was a naked photo of her circulating on the internet, her body turned cold. The YouTube influencer had never posed for the image, which showed her standing in a field without clothes. She knew it must be fake.
But when Belle, 26, messaged a colleague asking for help removing the image he told her there were nearly 100 fake photos scattered across the web, mostly housed on websites known for hosting porn generated by artificial intelligence. They were taken down in July, Belle said, but new images depicting her in graphic sexual situations have already surfaced.
“I felt yucky and violated,” Belle said in an interview. “Those private parts are not meant for the world to see because I have not consented to that. So it’s really strange that someone would make images of me.”
Artificial intelligence is fueling an unprecedented boom this year in fake pornographic images and videos. It’s enabled by a rise in cheap and easy-to-use AI tools that can “undress” people in photographs — analyzing what their naked bodies would look like and imposing it into an image — or seamlessly swap a face into a pornographic video.
On the top 10 websites that host AI-generated porn photos, fake nudes have ballooned by more than 290 percent since 2018, according to Genevieve Oh, an industry analyst. These sites feature celebrities and political figures such as New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez alongside ordinary teenage girls, whose likenesses have been seized by bad actors to incite shame, extort money or live out private fantasies.
Victims have little recourse. There’s no federal law governing deepfake porn, and only a handful of states have enacted regulations. President Biden’s AI executive order issued Monday recommends, but does not require, companies to label AI-generated photos, videos and audio to indicate computer-generated work.
Meanwhile, legal scholars warn that AI fake images may not fall under copyright protections for personal likenesses, because they draw from data sets populated by millions of images. “This is clearly a very serious problem,” said Tiffany Li, a law professor at the University of San Francisco.
The advent of AI images comes at a particular risk for women and teens, many of whom aren’t prepared for such visibility. A 2019 study by Sensity AI, a company that monitors deepfakes, found 96 percent of deepfake images are pornography, and 99 percent of those photos target women.
“It’s now very much targeting girls,” said Sophie Maddocks, a researcher and digital rights advocate at the University of Pennsylvania. “Young girls and women who aren’t in the public eye.”
‘Look, Mom. What have they done to me?’
On Sept. 17, Miriam Al Adib Mendiri was returning to her home in southern Spain from a trip when she found her 14-year-old daughter distraught. Her daughter shared a nude picture of herself.
“Look, Mom. What have they done to me?” Al Adib Mendiri recalled her daughter saying.
She’d never posed nude. But a group of local boys had grabbed clothed photos from the social media profiles of several girls in their town and used an AI “nudifier” app to create the naked pictures, according to police.
Scarlett Johansson on fake AI-generated sex videos: ‘Nothing can stop someone from cutting and pasting my image’
The application is one of many AI tools that use real images to create naked photos, which have flooded the web recent months. By analyzing millions of images, AI software can better predict how a body will look naked and fluidly overlay a face into a pornographic video, said Gang Wang, an expert in AI at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Though many AI image-generators block users from creating pornographic material, open source software, such as Stable Diffusion, makes its code public, letting amateur developers adapt the technology — often for nefarious purposes. (Stability AI, the maker of Stable Diffusion, did not return a request for comment.)
Once these apps are public, they use referral programs that encourage users to share these AI-generated photos on social media in exchange for cash, Oh said.
When Oh examined the top 10 websites that host fake porn images, she found more than 415,000 had been uploaded this year, garnering nearly 90 million views.
AI-generated porn videos have also exploded across the web. After scouring the 40 most popular websites for faked videos, Oh found more than 143,000 videos had been added in 2023 — a figure that surpasses all new videos from 2016 to 2022. The fake videos have received more than 4.2 billion views, Oh found.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation warned in June of an uptick of sexual extortion from scammers demanding payment or photos in exchange for not distributing sexual images. While it’s unclear what percentage of these images are AI-generated, the practice is expanding. As of September, over 26,800 people have been victims of “sextortion” campaigns, a 149 percent rise from 2019, the FBI told The Post.
‘You’re not safe as a woman’
In May, a poster on a popular pornography forum started a thread called “I can fake your crush.” The idea was simple: “Send me whoever you want to see nude and I can fake them” using AI, the moderator wrote.
Within hours, photos of women came flooding in. “Can u do this girl? not a celeb or influencer,” one poster asked. “My co-worker and my neighbor?” another one added.
Minutes after a request, a naked version of the image would appear on the thread. “Thkx a lot bro, it’s perfect,” one user wrote.
These fake images reveal how AI amplifies our worst stereotypes
Celebrities are a popular target for fake porn creators aiming to capitalize on search interest for nude photos of famous actors. But websites featuring famous people can lead to a surge in other kinds of nudes. The sites often include “amateur” content from unknown individuals and host ads that market AI porn-making tools.
Google has polices in place to prevent nonconsensual sexual images from appearing in search results, but its protections for deepfake images are not as robust. Deepfake porn and the tools to make it show up prominently on the company’s search engines, even without specifically searching for AI-generated content. Oh documented more than a dozen examples in screenshots, which were independently confirmed by The Post.
Ned Adriance, a spokesman for Google, said in a statement the company is “actively working to bring more protections to search” and that the company lets users request the removal of involuntary fake porn.
Google is in the process of “building more expansive safeguards” that would not require victims to individually request content gets taken down, he said.
Li, of the University of San Francisco, said it can be hard to penalize creators of this content. Section 230 in the Communications Decency Act shields social media companies from liability for the content posted on their sites, leaving little burden for websites to police images.
Victims can request that companies remove photos and videos of their likeness. But because AI draws from a plethora of images in a data set to create a faked photo, it’s harder for a victim to claim the content is derived solely from their likeness, Li said.
“Maybe you can still say: ‘It’s a copyright violation, it’s clear they took my original copyrighted photo and then just added a little bit to it,’” Li said. “But for deep fakes … it’s not that clear … what the original photos were.”
See why AI like ChatGPT has gotten so good, so fast
In the absence of federal laws, at least nine states — including California, Texas and Virginia — have passed legislation targeting deepfakes. But these laws vary in scope: In some states victims can press criminal charges, while others only allow civil lawsuits — though it can be difficult to ascertain whom to sue.
The push to regulate AI-generated images and videos is often intended to prevent mass distribution, addressing concerns about election interference, said Sam Gregory, executive director of the tech human rights advocacy organization Witness.
But these rules do little for deepfake porn, where images shared in small groups can wreak havoc on a person’s life, Gregory added.
Belle, the YouTube influencer, is still unsure how many deepfake photos of her are public and said stronger rules are needed to address her experience.
“You’re not safe as a woman,” she said.
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FBI investigating antisemitic threats against Jewish community at Cornell University
By Elijah Westbrook
Updated on: October 30, 2023 / 12:39 PM EDT / CBS New York
NEW YORK - The FBI and local investigators are looking into antisemitic threats made against the Jewish community at Cornell University.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul met with Cornell students Monday, where she announced heightened security on campuses statewide after an increase in antisemitic threats at schools.
"I came here in person with one strong message that we will not tolerate threats, or hatred, or antisemitism, or any kind of hatred that makes people feel vulnerable," the governor said.
Hochul added she directed state police to increase security on campuses across the state.
- Read More: Pro-Palestinian rally at Cooper Union leads to tense moments at school library
Authorities say the online antisemitic posts toward Cornell students depicted graphic threats of murder, sexual violence and comparisons to animals. They were made on a discussion board unaffiliated with the school.
According to Cornell's website, 22% of the student body is Jewish.
University President Martha Pollack issued a statement calling the online posts "horrendous."
"Threats of violence are absolutely intolerable, and we will work to ensure that the person or people who posted them are punished to the full extent of the law," the statement read in part. "Our immediate focus is on keeping the community safe; we will continue to prioritize that."
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Cornell Hillel (@cornellhillel)
Hochul posted a message on social media Sunday, describing the threats as "disgusting and hateful."
The disgusting & hateful posts on a message board about Jewish @Cornell students is the latest in a series of concerning incidents on college campuses. While it is unclear if these are credible threats, @nyspolice is engaged & we’ll take any steps needed to keep students safe. — Governor Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) October 30, 2023
New York Attorney General Letitia James said the posts are "absolutely horrific."
These threats targeting Jewish students at @Cornell are absolutely horrific. There is no space for antisemitism or violence of any kind. Campuses must remain safe spaces for our students. https://t.co/JT9RfWGZ0b — NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) October 30, 2023
The FBI continues to investigate who posted the threats and if they're even credible.
"The FBI is aware of the threats made to Cornell University's Jewish community. We take all threats seriously and are working closely with Cornell and our law enforcement partners at every level to determine the credibility, share information, and take appropriate investigative action," an FBI spokesperson told CBS New York. "We encourage members of the public to immediately report anything they consider suspicious to law enforcement. Nothing is more important than the safety of our communities and we will not tolerate violence motivated by hate and extremism."
Also in the New York City area Monday, Columbia University students plan to hold a rally at 2:30 p.m., calling on the school to support Jewish and Israeli students who say they are feeling unsafe on campus.
Elijah Westbrook is an Emmy Award-winning journalist. He joined CBS2 News and CBS News New York in January 2022.
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Hamas’s Bloody Arithmetic
The group’s leaders say they believe a permanent state of war is the only way to revive the palestinian cause..
This transcript was created using speech recognition software. While it has been reviewed by human transcribers, it may contain errors. Please review the episode audio before quoting from this transcript and email [email protected] with any questions.
From The New York Times, I’m Michael Barbaro. This is The Daily.
Today. To much of the outside world, Hamas’ decision to murder hundreds of Israelis and trigger a war that has since killed many thousands of its own people looks like a historic miscalculation, one that could soon result in the destruction of Hamas itself.
My colleague Ben Hubbard has been reporting on that decision and the deliberate calculations that went into it.
It’s Tuesday, November 14.
Ben, since October 7, since Hamas breached Israel’s border and killed 1,200 people, according to Israel, the vast majority of them civilians, I think a really important question has largely gone unanswered, which is why? Why undertake such a horrifying terror attack that entailed the mass murder of non-combatants, and why do that when Hamas had to understand on some level that it would trigger an overwhelming reprisal from Israel that would end the lives of so many Palestinian civilians, which is exactly what’s happened? This was a highly planned and highly organized attack that clearly had a strategy behind it, so what was it?
That’s what I set out to understand. After the attack, I think everybody was asking that question of why would Hamas, which is ruling in Gaza and has this control, and you know, why would they suddenly do something like this that was actually described by one of my colleagues as a suicide attack on itself? Like, basically was the movement trying to destroy itself?
And so we wanted to figure out how did Hamas get to the point in terms of capabilities where it could launch this, which was a much, much more sophisticated and complicated attack than we had ever seen them carry out before, despite the decades and decades that they’ve been fighting Israel, and then also why? How did they get to the point where they made the decision that of the kinds of attacks that they could do for whatever it is that they wanted to achieve, why this? Not a very easy thing to answer.
It’s completely unrealistic that we would be able to call up the leaders of Hamas in Gaza who plotted and carried out this attack. I mean, certainly by the time that we were asking this question, they were hiding away in their bunkers somewhere getting ready to fight Israel, which was making it very clear it was going to do a ground incursion. So there’s sort of no way to talk to these people. But Hamas has leaders in other places. You have the people in Gaza who run the show there, and then they have people from their more political operations who are based in other parts of the Middle East. There’s a number of them who are in Beirut. There’s a number of them who are in Qatar. So I packed my bags and left Istanbul and first went to Beirut.
With the understanding that you could meet with them, I think it would surprise people to think that you can just meet with the senior leaders of Hamas.
Yeah. I mean, they’re sort of political people from any other political party. They have offices and they have aides, and you call them up, and you take an appointment, and you figure out where you’re going to meet them, and you go to the office. And so, we got in touch with a number of them, and they said, yeah, come in, and we’ll have a chat. And they told us to meet them at this restaurant that’s kind of well known in the suburbs of Beirut, and we actually got in their car, and they drove us to this sort of compound where we went in with a sort of big metal gate that opens when you go in. And we went in, and we just basically sat in a room with some couches, and we talked.
And then a few days later, I went to Doha, capital of Qatar, sort of on the other side of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. Again, we get in touch with the Hamas officials that we know are there, and the first person that we talked to was actually an aide to Ismail Haniyeh, who was the head of Hamas. And he says, well, let’s meet at the Sheraton, the hotel sort of on the waterfront. And so, I go there, and we meet and have a long chat with him, asking him basically all about the attack and before the attack and why the attack.
And then we actually get in his car, and he drives us to the Hamas office. It’s in a nice villa in an affluent neighborhood, kind of on the outskirts of the city, has a big wall around it. No sign. No indication to anybody coming by sort of who was there or who works there. We meet one of the members of the senior leadership body, the Politburo, Khalil al-Hayya. And again, we’re sitting in a large room with couches, and somebody brings us tea and coffee, and we start talking.
And after you have all these conversations with these leaders of Hamas, what did they tell you about this question of why? This question that you have come here to try to understand the logic of this attack, if we can apply that word to what happened.
The basic idea that they all kept coming back to is they felt that the Palestinian cause was basically fading away, that there were aspects of this conflict that were approaching a point of no return, and if they sort of passed that point, then it was all over. And also this feeling that nobody really cared. Nobody was really paying attention or doing anything about it, including the Israelis, that the Israelis just didn’t even seem to be thinking about the Palestinian cause anymore. So they felt that they needed to do something big, they needed to do something dramatic to blow up the status quo.
They wanted to completely overthrow the situation in the region, and individual leaders said that they hoped that this led to a big regional war, that that was the ideal outcome and hope that some new option would emerge from what came after.
So what they’re telling you is they needed in their minds to light a fire, and not a small fire. They wanted to light a conflagration, and I’m wondering if that means for them that any death toll on both sides was therefore worth it?
Well, I asked them about that, everybody that I talked to, and they give on pretty much all counts incredibly unsatisfying answers. When you ask about the civilian Israelis who were killed in their communities, they basically deny it and say either it’s not true, this is Israeli propaganda, or they say that if any civilians were killed, they were killed in the crossfire between our fighters and Israeli security services and the military.
And there’s ample evidence that show that that’s just not true. There is evidence and testimony from Israeli survivors of the attacks. There is dashcam footage from cars that were parked in places where the attacks took place. There is surveillance footage from cameras that were posted in the communities, and there’s even helmet cameras that some of the Hamas fighters were wearing that were captured by the Israelis after the fighters were killed. And so, we have that footage as well.
So all of this shows that regardless of what Hamas says the objectives of the attack were, that many of these fighters just moved deliberately through these communities in a very studied way, shooting and killing people on sight. My colleagues have done work proving that they cornered civilians who had taken shelter inside a bomb shelters and threw grenades inside to try to kill them while they were stuck in there. And there’s other evidence that they just lit people’s houses on fire on top of them, so we know that Hamas’ denials are just not true.
And when you ask them about, OK, well there’s a big war going on. Obviously, we see the death toll in Gaza going up every day. These are supposed to be your people. They basically say whatever Israel does is not our fault. We’re out here trying to save the Palestinian cause, and if Israel decides to come back and kill a bunch of people in Gaza, that’s not our problem. So when you take a step back and look at what they’re saying in the context of this broader goal, they just seem to be saying that all of these deaths are just the necessary cost of this blowing up of the status quo.
Then bottom line. To accomplish this objective of upending the status quo, for Hamas, for its leaders, it seems like almost any amount of death would be allowable.
Right. In my conversations with some of the Hamas leaders, there really did not seem to be a lot of hand-wringing about the number of civilian deaths that have come about because of this attack.
So help us better understand how that status quo that Hamas is so desperate to shatter came to be and how Hamas decided that it was willing to go to this length to destroy it.
So I found it very useful in trying to understand how Hamas got to this point, looking at the career of one of the people who ended up plotting this attack, and this is the head of Hamas in Gaza whose name is Yahya Sinwar.
So what should we know about him?
Yahya Sinwar is from the first generation of Hamas. Hamas was a Palestinian militant movement founded in the late ‘80s that was an Islamist movement that aimed to destroy Israel with military means and replace it with a Palestinian state. At this time, the Israeli military was occupying the West Bank and Gaza, and Hamas was not interested in just ending the occupation of these territories. Hamas believed that the entire state of Israel was an occupation. This sets it apart from other Palestinian movements that have negotiated with Israel and accept Israel’s right to exist. Hamas never accepted that and felt that the whole thing was wrong and that the only solution was to completely destroy Israel and replace it with a Palestinian state.
So Sinwar is from the very early generation of this movement, and from very early on, he’s sort of an internal security guy. He’s in charge of looking out for Israeli moles inside of the organization, and he punishes these people with such brutality that he’s given the nickname the Butcher of Khan Yunis. Khan Yunis is a town in Gaza where he was born, and so he was known as the Butcher of Khan Yunis.
So he’s an enforcer within Hamas, a violent figure within an already violent group.
Yes. Then in 1988, he gets arrested by the Israelis, and he is thrown in jail for the murder of four Palestinians, who were alleged collaborators with Israel spying inside of the organization. And he’s in prison for 22 years, and he describes this later as being very educational. He learns to speak good Hebrew. He reads books in Hebrew, and he describes it as being this great opportunity to really get to his enemy, to understand Israeli society, to understand how Israel works and how it thinks. And clearly, this is because he does expect or hope that someday he’s going to get out of prison and that this knowledge is going to come in useful.
He’s studying Israel from inside prison so that he might someday better understand, it sounds like, their weaknesses.
So while he’s in jail, Hamas expands as a movement, and it becomes basically notorious for using very, very violent techniques to try to harm Israel. In 2007, it gets in a huge fight with other Palestinian factions inside of Gaza and ends up taking the place over and basically exiling the Palestinian Authority. And this puts the movement in a really new place. I mean, this was a movement that was founded to do military action against Israel, and suddenly, it finds itself governing a territory. I mean, it becomes the de facto government —
— of a territory that now has more than two million Palestinians. And so, instead of just wanting to launch attacks and figure out ways to military, suddenly they have to think about infrastructure and how to provide services for all these people who are technically under their rule.
But of course, Sinwar is in prison and cannot be a part of this transformation of Hamas into the governing authority of Gaza.
Yes. So while all this is happening on the outside, Sinwar is inside learning Hebrew and getting to know Israel better. And then all of a sudden, he gets an opportunity, and basically Hamas gets an opportunity.
On Sunday, Palestinian fighters used a tunnel to attack a border post and kidnap an Israeli soldier.
In 2006, some Hamas fighters pop up from a tunnel on the Israeli side of the border separating Israel from Gaza, and they take a soldier captive, and they drag him back to Gaza, and they hold him.
The 8,500 Palestinians held captive in Israel now in the spotlight following the militants’ capture of the Israeli soldier. Their freedom, the single demand so far from the corporal’s captors.
And there are years of negotiations, and then in 2011, there’s an agreement for a prisoner swap. And in the end, Hamas trades this one Israeli soldier named Gilad Shalit, and they get in return more than 1,000 Palestinians released from prison.
It was just before midday that the first coachload of Palestinian prisoners came across the Egyptian border into Rafah.
And among them is Yahya Sinwar.
Yahya Sinwar is the only one of the group’s top leaders to be freed in the deal.
And Sinwar is one of the biggest prizes that Hamas gets out. And then he returns to Gaza, and he receives a hero’s welcome.
And he does this not just with this new Israel education that he’s gotten while he was locked up, but he also, of course, learns a lesson, which is that Israel will pay dearly to get its captives released.
Right. 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, including himself, for a single Israeli soldier.
And so here, you know, returns this leader with 22 years in Israeli prison, and he comes back and reintegrates into Hamas and begins his further climb up the ranks.
The Palestinian group Hamas has elected a commander of its armed wing as overall leader in Gaza.
And in 2017, he actually becomes the top Hamas official in Gaza. And in that role, he starts to transform that branch of the organization. He does things to make the organization stronger, and interestingly, he sends certain messages implying that he’s actually interested in a kind of accommodation with Israel.
Well, so by this point, Hamas and Israel have settled into this strange kind of violent coexistence. They’re obviously incredibly hostile parties. Violence frequently breaks out. In fact, entire wars break out. But there’s also a lot of interaction because Israel controls almost all of Gaza’s borders, except a small part controlled by Egypt. Most of Gaza’s electricity comes from Israel. Most of Gaza’s commercial goods are brought in from Israel, and so, just for the place to survive, there needs to be a certain amount of interaction.
And so, this strange process develops where violence frequently breaks out, and Hamas will fire rockets into Israel and try to hit Israeli towns and military bases. And then Israel responds with airstrikes and sometimes with assassinations of Hamas leaders inside of Gaza. And then mediators get involved, and while they’re trying to work out a ceasefire, there’s a negotiation that’s not really about the larger conflict, but sort of about some of the details of the actual blockade. And you know, Hamas is trying to find ways to loosen up this blockade to allow more goods to enter Gaza.
And over time, Sinwar ends up giving people in the Israeli security establishment this impression that that’s actually something that’s important to him, that he actually does want to try to make life better for the people of Gaza and it’s not just all military all the time. And then in 2021, there’s another war between Israel and Hamas, and after that, there’s a negotiation. And again, Hamas pushes for a number of things that seem to be geared towards improving life for Gazans.
They negotiate tens of millions of dollars in aid from Qatar to come in through Israel to Gaza to keep the economy functioning in the place. They negotiate work permits to try to increase the number of work permits for Gazans to leave Gaza into Israel to work because there’s really not a lot of jobs in Gaza, and so, this is a good thing for the economy. And so, at another point even more recently than that, there were clashes started by other militant factions in Gaza, and Hamas sits out. They sit on the side.
And so together, this creates this impression on the Israeli side that I think there’s sort of two prongs to it. One is that the Israeli Defense technology is enough to keep Gaza contained. We have this border fence that has cameras, and it has motion sensors, and it has remote control machine guns. We have an underground wall, so there’s no tunnels. And we have Iron Dome, which is the Israeli rocket interception system. And then on top of that, they say, well, we also have this leader in Gaza who seems like he doesn’t want to get a bunch of his people killed in yet another war.
It sounds like you’re saying Sinwar’s conduct and his messaging is contributing to this feeling inside Israel that maybe Gaza and Hamas can be contained. This can all be managed.
Right. And it’s not that anybody thinks that they’ve managed to solve the long term conflict with Hamas. It’s more that, OK, well, we’ve got this situation under control, that with our security measures to try to keep them contained, and that if we can keep enough aid going in to keep the economy going along so that people aren’t too miserable, that in a way, this could keep things from really blowing up. But meanwhile, it’s clear to us in hindsight that Sinwar was not at all happy with that status quo and that he was covertly working to try to build up Hamas’ military capabilities inside of Gaza.
Well, how so?
Well, Hamas continues to build its arsenal of rockets inside of Gaza. They smuggle in the materials that they need to make them, and they build them inside of Gaza. So they’re building up this arsenal. And on a more strategic level, Sinwar comes in and he repairs the relationship between Hamas and specifically with the Hamas military wing in Gaza and some of its older regional allies. The most important of these is Iran, which had been a funder and the state supporter of Hamas since the early days of the movement. And also with Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia, which is also dedicated to the destruction of Israel and works closely with Iran to try to build this sort of network of regional militias that are out to harm Israel.
We know that in recent years, a number of Hamas fighters have been able to get out of Gaza and travel both to Iran and to Lebanon for various kinds of training. And looking back at this attack, we realized that they were probably learning new capabilities that really added a whole different kind of sophistication to the kinds of attacks that Hamas was able to carry out.
So all these alliances you’re describing that Sinwar deepens, they’re in the service of making Hamas a stronger, more capable fighting force.
Yes. I mean, he clearly knows that the battle is not over, and it certainly is clear in hindsight that his end goal was not to govern Gaza and to try to improve the life of Gazans, but he was very interested in developing the military capabilities so that he could find a way to hit Israel in a new and powerful way.
So what exactly sets the stage for doing just that, hitting Israel in a new and powerful way, and for doing it when Sinwar and Hamas decide to do it, on October 7, 2023?
So when I asked the Hamas leaders about this, this is where they brought up the idea that the Palestinian cause was slipping away, and they point to a number of things. And these are issues that are not just important to Hamas. These are issues that are important to all Palestinians. They talk about the most right wing government in Israeli history coming to power and basically not being at all interested in talking about any future for the Palestinians. They talk about attacks by settlers in the West Bank on Palestinian communities.
They talk about police raids on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is one of the holiest sites in Islam, which is in Jerusalem and has always been sort of a touchstone for the Palestinian claim to the city. There’s also, of course, the Israeli blockade of Gaza, which it has enforced since 2007 along with Egypt. And also sort of hanging over this is these normalization deals that are happening between Israel and other Arab countries and this idea that Israel can go around the Palestinians and find peace with the Arabs without resolving the conflict. And these are the things that they’re talking about when they’re saying, we just felt like the cause was slipping away.
Right because in a sense, the cause has been slipping away, right, kind of indisputably. Arab countries who would be natural allies of the Palestinian cause are signing deals in which the only previous obstacle had been the fate of the Palestinian people. And so, in signing those deals, they’re basically saying they no longer cared about the Palestinian cause. And as you just mentioned, there are these kind of daily insults and offenses occurring that are, if you’re a Palestinian, extremely upsetting.
Right. And so, Hamas basically sees all of this happening and feels like this cause is slipping away, and this is where they get this idea that we have to do something, and we have to do something big. We cannot let this issue disappear. We have to bring it back to the world’s attention, and that’s what gets us to October 7.
We’ll be right back.
Ben, what have you learned through this reporting you have been doing about how under Sinwar, Hamas planned and thought about the scope of what became the October 7 attack?
So we know that they basically felt that the old model was not going to be good enough, that this idea that they would fire rockets and try to hit Israeli communities and whatever, no, no, no. This had to be much, much bigger. And so, they wanted to take the fight to the Israelis. They wanted to get out of Gaza, and not just a few of them, but large numbers of them. And they wanted it to be an incredibly dramatic attack.
And so, they went by air. They went by land. They went by sea. They went inside of Israeli military bases. They went inside Israeli communities and killed a lot of people and took a lot of prisoners, and they managed to bring a lot of these hostages back to Gaza. And Sinwar knows better than anybody how much the taking of one Israeli captive can change the situation.
And we know that when they launch this attack, they were seeking captives. They wanted to find people and bring them back to Gaza. And we also know that this attack was much, much more successful than even its plotters had anticipated. And so now, the fact that Hamas instead of just one Israeli captive has somewhere around 240, it just pushes the entire conflict into this uncharted territory where nobody really knows what comes next.
Well, let’s talk more about the aftermath of this brutal attack, and how, Ben, in your reporting, you’ve been trying to understand whether Hamas did what it set out to do, given the original aims as you have described and reported them of exploding a status quo. I mean, how should we think about measuring this idea, this complicated idea, that this was, to use Hamas’ word, a success?
Well, I think in the fundamental sense of setting out to shatter the status quo, then yeah. This accomplished that. Gaza’s never going to go back to what it was. I think in terms of the goal of putting the Palestinian cause back on the table, I think it was true that not many people were paying attention to it just over a month ago. And now, because of Israel’s ferocious response to the Hamas attacks and the bombing of Gaza, now we’re seeing protests coming out all over the world and different cities in the US talking about Palestinian rights in a way that we have not seen before.
And there’s also this sort of frantic diplomacy that started, and you have US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken flying around and talking about the two state solution and how to make progress on it. And so, the issue is on the table in a way that it was not before this attack. And then in terms of this idea of sparking this big regional war, that has not happened, at least not to the extent that Hamas had hoped. There has been fighting on the Lebanese border with Hezbollah. There have been attacks in Iraq. But we have not seen this sort of huge uprising and the rest of the Arabs kind of joining the cause to come and try to help Hamas destroy Israel.
Ben, that feels important to dwell on for just a moment. If Hamas’ militant allies in the Middle East, Hezbollah, for example, don’t become more involved in this conflict, will that be a signal that the Palestinian cause is not likely to stay top of mind for very long, and that ultimately, one of the main objectives of October 7 will have failed?
I mean, one of the most surprising things I think for me about all of this is that Iran and its regional militias including Hamas had been talking for a long time about how they had built this axis of resistance and how they were much more integrated and they were sharing technology and sharing information. And there’s this idea that they had put out that if there was a war against Israel, all the pieces would fall into place, and it would be like this big sort of militant Voltron that would come together and fight Israel.
And that’s not what happened. I was quite surprised in the reporting that we don’t have any indications that Hamas coordinated this attack with anybody or that they let anybody know that it was coming. Hezbollah’s response was quite cautious at the very beginning. They’re now clashing with Israel on the border, but they’ve done it in a controlled way to keep it from escalating into a bigger war. And so, it sort of raises this whole question of this idea of this big regional militia network. Well, maybe it’s not as coordinated as we thought. I mean, if Hamas is actually going to be the one to pull the plug on this big war, and these other guys don’t actually want to join it in the same way that Hamas is doing it, then maybe this network is not as tight as we expected it was.
So, yes. Hamas has put the question of the Palestinians back on people’s minds, whether it’s demonstrators or like Blinken diplomats, but to what end? I mean, ideally, from the point of view of Hamas, the end is a Palestinian state and the elimination of Israel. It seems like Hamas is no closer to that now than they were before October 7. So in Hamas’ mind, what is supposed to be on the other side of the status quo that’s gone, other than Israeli death and Israeli suffering and Palestinian death and Palestinian suffering on an enormous scale?
In my talks with the Hamas leaders, there was really no sense of a grand plan for what comes next. They definitely wanted to hit Israel as hard as they could, and they wanted to hit Israel inside of Israel, and they were not particularly concerned about what sort of response this would bring and what it would mean to the people of Gaza. It was that the attack somehow would be enough and would open up some new way. Now that we’re five weeks into this, I think it’s also worth pointing out that Israel doesn’t appear to have a grand plan either. The stated goal is to destroy Hamas, and Israel can probably make a lot of progress on that. They could kill a lot of the Hamas leaders. They can degrade its military capabilities.
But then what? There’s not really any plan for who’s going to run Gaza once this is all over. And so, where does all this get us? I mean, I think it’s difficult to tell the future, but there’s a few possibilities. One is that the violence gets so bad and the destruction gets so great that people get sort of disgusted with it and decide that there has to be some new way forward. There has to be a new way to try to figure out how to keep this cycle from continuing.
But it’s also sadly possible that Israel will go in and do whatever it feels that it needs to do in Gaza, and the world could move on, and people could go back to forgetting about the Palestinians, and we could end up in a kind of status quo like we had before, but one that’s even worse for the people of Gaza. And Israel has been trying to destroy Hamas for a long time, and this time, they may make a lot of progress. They may kill a lot of their leaders, and they may degrade their military capabilities, but there’s still going to be two million Palestinians living in Gaza, and most of them are children. And after all the trauma of living through a war like this, it’s just very hard to imagine that they’re going to grow up and feel like they want to live peacefully next door with Israel, and it’s certainly not hard to imagine that some other organization could come up, and that it’s not going to have a hard time finding recruits.
Right. What you’re describing is a potential new status quo replacing this shattered status quo that is worse for the people in Gaza, and in theory, potentially worse for Israel.
Yes. I think that’s the worst case scenario for how this could all end.
Well, thank you, Ben. We appreciate it.
Here’s what else you need to know today. With the US government set to run out of money at midnight Friday, the new Republican House Speaker, conservative Mike Johnson, has proposed a temporary funding plan that so far is drawing support from Democrats and opposition from Johnson’s fellow far right Republicans. That raises the possibility that Johnson’s first major piece of legislation, a continuing resolution known as a CR, will only win passage with the support of House Democrats, a reality that doomed Johnson’s predecessor, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
For now, I am pleased that speaker Johnson seems to be moving in our direction.
In a speech from the Senate floor on Monday, the chamber’s Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer praised Johnson’s plan.
I’ve said on multiple occasions that if we’re going to work together to keep the government open, Speaker Johnson will have to avoid pushing steep cuts or poison pills that Democrats can’t support.
And after a series of embarrassing revelations about undisclosed gifts and real estate deals by the justices, the US Supreme Court has for the first time adopted a formal code of ethics that requires greater transparency to the public. Unlike lower court judges, the justices of the Supreme Court have never been bound to a code of conduct, given their special status in the US Constitution. But so far, it’s unclear how the ethics code will actually be enforced.
Today’s episode was produced by Mary Wilson, Asthaa Chaturvedi, and Rob Szypko. It was edited by Paige Cowett with help from Devin Taylor, was fact checked by Susan Lee, contained original music by Dan Powell, Rowan Niemisto, and Pat McCusker, and was engineered by Alyssa Moxley. Our theme music is by Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk of Wonderly. Special Thanks to Rachelle Bonja.
That’s it for The Daily. I’m Michael Barbaro. See you tomorrow.
- November 14, 2023 • 37:26 Hamas’s Bloody Arithmetic
- November 13, 2023 • 37:27 The Doctors of Gaza
- November 10, 2023 • 44:35 What Adidas Knew About Kanye
- November 9, 2023 • 27:14 The Supreme Court Tests Its Own Limits on Guns
- November 8, 2023 • 25:05 The Trumps Take the Stand
- November 7, 2023 • 25:37 The Growing Republican Battle Over War Funding
- November 6, 2023 • 30:08 Swing State Voters Are Souring on Biden
- November 5, 2023 • 54:36 The Sunday Read: ‘The Botched Hunt for the Gilgo Beach Killer’
- November 3, 2023 • 44:16 1948
- November 2, 2023 • 25:41 The Many Missed Warnings Before Maine’s Mass Shooting
- November 1, 2023 • 34:20 Lessons From an Unending Conflict
- October 31, 2023 • 22:01 A Historic Strike (and Win) for Autoworkers
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Hosted by Michael Barbaro
Produced by Mary Wilson , Asthaa Chaturvedi and Rob Szypko
Edited by Paige Cowett
With Devon Taylor
Original music by Dan Powell , Rowan Niemisto and Pat McCusker
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To much of the outside world, Hamas’s decision to murder hundreds of Israelis and trigger a war that has since killed many thousands of its own people looks like a historic miscalculation — one that could soon result in the destruction of Hamas itself.
Hamas’s leaders, however, say that it was the result of a deliberate calculation.
Ben Hubbard, the Istanbul bureau chief for The New York Times, has been reporting on their decision, and what went into it.
On today’s episode
Ben Hubbard , the Istanbul bureau chief for The New York Times.
Behind Hamas’s bloody gambit to create a “permanent” state of war.
It took American and Qatari diplomacy, and self-interested decisions by Hamas, to bring two hostages safely back to Israel.
Here’s the latest on the war .
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We aim to make transcripts available the next workday after an episode’s publication. You can find them at the top of the page.
Ben Hubbard contributed reporting.
Fact-checking by Susan Lee .
Special thanks to Rachelle Bonja .
The Daily is made by Rachel Quester, Lynsea Garrison, Clare Toeniskoetter, Paige Cowett, Michael Simon Johnson, Brad Fisher, Chris Wood, Jessica Cheung, Stella Tan, Alexandra Leigh Young, Lisa Chow, Eric Krupke, Marc Georges, Luke Vander Ploeg, M.J. Davis Lin, Dan Powell, Sydney Harper, Mike Benoist, Liz O. Baylen, Asthaa Chaturvedi, Rachelle Bonja, Diana Nguyen, Marion Lozano, Corey Schreppel, Rob Szypko, Elisheba Ittoop, Mooj Zadie, Patricia Willens, Rowan Niemisto, Jody Becker, Rikki Novetsky, John Ketchum, Nina Feldman, Will Reid, Carlos Prieto, Ben Calhoun, Susan Lee, Lexie Diao, Mary Wilson, Alex Stern, Dan Farrell, Sophia Lanman, Shannon Lin, Diane Wong, Devon Taylor, Alyssa Moxley, Summer Thomad, Olivia Natt, Daniel Ramirez and Brendan Klinkenberg.
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