While spending time with animals undoubtedly a valuable learning experience for all ages and has benefits such as learning care and responsibility, relieving stress, and developing empathy, it is important to consider the animal’s experience. A bright and busy classroom is a good environment for children but is overwhelming to most animals. Despite the best of intentions, class pets may become neglected and ultimately unwanted as the school year ends.
By symbolically adopting a rescued animal resident of Charlie’s Acres as your class pet, you create a safe opportunity for kids to learn about animals that is inclusive regardless of the school’s budget and location, or any allergies of students.
While students are enrolled in virtual learning, a virtual class pet is still accessible and can be a fun bonding experience.
Did you know that many states have curriculum requirements for humane and character education? This education involves teaching children to understand, care about, and act on core ethical values such as respect, justice, and responsibility for self and others.
Teaching kindness to animals is a natural component of these efforts. Developing empathy towards animals can be a key step in developing empathy for and rejecting violence against all beings, including humans. With bullying and youth violence rampant in schools today, it is essential to teach compassion and encourage kindness in your students.
Honey is one of our cow residents rescued from the dairy industry. It is not widely known that, like other mammals, cows must have a baby to produce milk, so mother cows on dairy farms are typically kept constantly pregnant to produce a regular supply of milk only to be separated from their babies after they’re born. Honey was fortunate enough to be rescued while pregnant after spending 10 years on the farm, and she and her son Benjamin arrived at Charlie’s Acres in 2018 where they’ll live the rest of their lives side by side. Although Benjamin now towers over his mom, they still share an incredibly close bond, and we can see how much it means to them to be able to stay together and to be free to spend their days how they choose. Honey is a sweet, motherly figure to not only Benjamin, but their entire herd.
Gretel is a potbelly pig, an animal that can make a great companion as long as people do their research before adopting them! Sadly, many of these pigs are purchased at a young age due to the popular “teacup” pig myth and then end up abandoned when they reach their full size. In Gretel’s case, she was left on the streets while pregnant in the summer of 2021. After days of building trust with her, we convinced her to follow a trail of food into our trailer, which gave us the idea to name her Gretel! Two weeks after her arrival, she gave birth to her piglets on August 16, and, despite all the danger Gretel faced on the streets, they now have a safe, happy home to live the rest of their lives together. Gretel is a strong, protective mother, but, like her babies, she won’t say no to a good belly rub. Her story teaches us why it’s important to make sure we can meet an animal’s needs before bringing them into our homes. During our meetings with Gretel, you can expect to also meet her seven friendly piglets and their very curious chicken friends!
Monroe was found abandoned at only a day old at a pond in a public park. Luckily, a kind passerby noticed Monroe and brought her to Charlie’s Acres. In the beginning, Monroe grew quickly and her white, waterproof adult feathers came in, but as the weeks went by, we realized Monroe was a miniature breed of duck, and, unlike many of her fellow domestic ducks, she was able to fly! We built a special aviary for her to let her flap her wings as she pleases without having to worry about getting lost. She was joined by Mathilda, an elderly domestic goose who took Monroe under her wing (literally!), Ralph the sassy rooster, and several other duck friends who require a bit of extra care, and they spend their days happily splashing away in their pools together. Monroe’s story is all too common: many people believe that domestic ducks can live safely in the wild and in public ponds and lakes, but in reality, it’s very difficult for them to survive. We are so happy that Monroe found a safe home here at Charlie’s Acres and a group of friends to play with every day. She’s a sweet, energetic duck who loves nibbling at us affectionately for attention and soaring over our heads when we least expect it.
Roger & Mama
Mama and Roger are one of our most heartwarming couples. Mama came to Charlie's Acres after being attacked by a dog and losing one of her legs. She had settled in as the matriarch of our sheep group and was gaining confidence on three legs, when Roger joined the group. Roger, recently blind due to neurological damage, was understandably fearful and confused, finding comfort in Mama's calm presence. Roger would become distressed when he could not easily find Mama, so we placed a bell around Mama's neck so he can always know where she is. He relies on Mama to find his way back to the barn at night and she sticks close to him, occasionally leaning on him for support. Mama and Roger are a great example of how sensitive animals can be to each other’s feelings and that they also show empathy and compassion for others.
As a rooster, Frank is one of the most misunderstood beings in the world, and, just like many others of his kind, we found him abandoned. Roosters face many challenges due to the stigma of their signature crow, the stereotype that they are “aggressive,” and simply because they are not seen as worth caring for since they don’t provide us with eggs. In reality, roosters make wonderful and loving protectors to their families, bravely showing that they are even willing to risk their lives to protect the ones they love. Each rooster has his own personality, and we are happy to give each one the space to be who he is, whether he's snuggly, feisty, shy, outgoing, and so much more. It’s so much fun watching Frank interact with his flock, always chatting with them, standing guard, and calling them over when he finds a yummy treat to share. While chickens are often thought of as “simple minded,” that couldn’t be further from the truth! Frank is a great example of how we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and that when we take the time to understand chickens (and roosters in particular), they can really thrive, make wonderful friends, and teach us so much.
Ginger was brought to Charlie’s Acres in the spring of 2019 by a teenage activist who negotiated with her former owner, a dairy farmer, to relinquish her. She arrived in extremely poor health due to severe neglect. Ginger was emaciated, full of parasites, and suffering from a life-threatening udder infection. We feared for Ginger’s survival during those first weeks and were thrilled as we saw her put on weight and gain strength. Now, she’s thriving in her forever home at Charlie’s Acres with her wonderful goat and chicken friends. Despite everything she’s been through, Ginger is incredibly sweet, forgiving, and trusting of humans. She loves receiving attention from humans, gluing herself to the side of visitors as they pet her and nuzzling them affectionately. Ginger’s story is a great example of why animals deserve a chance at life and to receive treatment when they’re sick, just as much as anyone else.
Esperanza (or Espy) is a happy, goofy goat with tons of personality. She is one of our residents with a disability, having been born without hooves on her back legs, which makes it more challenging for her to walk. We were able to raise money to get her a pair of special, custom-made orthotic boots that she wears every day, and it brought out a whole new playful side to her! Now, she can be seen running and jumping in the air and loves chasing her human and animal friends around her pasture. Espy is a great example of how, like us humans, animals can have disabilities and thrive in environments where they are given the support and accommodations they need. During our meetings with Espy, you can expect to also meet her best goat friend Zipper, Gil the rooster, and the self-appointed protector of the group: Hombre the turkey!
Charlie's Acres' Virtual Class Pet Program includes:
- An adoption certificate, photos, and information about your new class pet.
- Four 30 minute video calls with an animal caregiver and your class pet. These can be scheduled throughout the year, semester, or shorter unit, depending on your class’s needs. These calls will focus on humane education lessons that help students put themselves in an animal’s “shoes” and consider their feelings.
View our Virtual Class Pet Program curriculum.
This program is available for grades K-12 and is most appropriate for grades 2-8. For classes younger than Kindergarten age, please feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for additional humane education options.
Due to staffing, a limited number of no-cost registrations for the 2023-2024 school year have been made available. We expect to open no-cost spots for additional classes to join in late October. Please check back here or subscribe to our newsletter to be notified in when more spots open up!
Ask a parent or donor to sponsor your class by sending them this link!