Do any of the vents here have experience in these locations? I hear a bunch about school assemblies and birthday parties, but not much about Zoos or science/nature centers. I think it may be an untapped puppetry market. Walkarounds, skits, edutainment, etc.
The Axtell animals are GREAT characters and I think they'd do great in these environments. And for those that might have experience, how did you go about getting that gig? Word of mouth? Contacting the zoo/center directly?
Think about a vent/puppeteer in pet veterinarian outfit or croc hunter/jungle explorer garb... The possibilities are only limited by which animal puppet you're holding.
I've been thinking about this idea for awhile, but the Venezuelan Parrot skit reminded me to ask.
January 25 2011, 8:28 PM
You have asked a good question. Generally, the reason zoos and nature centers don't hire outside entertainers is because they have their own entertainment. The zookeepers will choose some live animals and put on shows quite often for school groups.
However, if you live close to a zoo or nature center you could possibly promote the idea of a field trip bonus and provide a nice photo promoting your show. They could then offer it to school groups that are coming as a bonus for X amount of dollars. I've never tried that.
Another option is to figure out their busiest season and offer to come 3 times that season for the price of two shows. (Summer is probably their busiest time in the northern hemisphere.) Better yet, offer to come every Friday for two months at a certain time.
A better venue to try would be an amusement park, such as Six Flags. They generally have a small stage and would like entertainment during the summer. Have a video ready.
January 26 2011, 9:58 AM
I know several that have broken into the zoo biz both with our regular hand puppets and with Hands-Free Animatronics. They are great crowd-pleasers and walk-arounds.
Joe Gandleman works the San Diego Zoo for many years
Bart Scott has worked at the Fort Worth Zoo
Ed Casey in Denver Zoo
Louis Taylor in Bristol UK
Here is a photo of Louis Taylor at work with his Hands-Free Toucan "Tommy" at the Bristol Zoo gathering the crowds....
This message has been edited by axtell from IP address 126.96.36.199 on Jan 26, 2011 11:18 AM
January 26 2011, 4:52 PM
I think you could do well if you had an Animatronic puppet. I WISH I could afford one to use!
If you are going to try and break into the zoo field, then you need to make sure you know your facts about animals.
If you don't know the difference between Nocturnal, Diurnal and Crepuscular then trying to convince a Zoo staff to bring you on is going to be problematic.
Everyone comes to see the animals at the zoo and so in order to really impress folks you need to "EDU" TAIN and not just "ENTER" TAIN.
Understand that the folks who run zoos are committed to animals and they really know their stuff.
I have a degree in Biology, took classes in Zoology and have been working at the FW Zoo for 4 years part time and I am still learning.
Best of Luck. Also realize alot of zoo's are really struggling right now. Particularly ones that are run and funded by local city governments. Zoo's that are run by Zoological Associations like where I work are much better off, but still revenues last year were down.
Hoping this year we see more traffic and kiddo's.
January 27 2011, 6:38 AM
Below are the scripts for the 2008 Ventriloquist Dream Team at I-Fest. There were 5 people, but each had a section with their animal. My aplogies to those with dial-up as it is really long! Note the change in letters to resemble a change in speakers. You will also note the usage of puns. Feel free to glean whatever you can for your own Axtell puppet. I still use most of this for my birthday shows and it will be my summer library theme in California, with minor changes.
Ventriloquists Dream Team
Concept: Specialty Zoo, where everyone is unique like you
(Enter person dressed in Ranger outfit, carrying a skunk.)
Announcer with a puppet on:
R: Good morning, everybody! My name is Ranger Ronnie and Ill be your host for todays visit. And this is my right hand man, _______.
F: Welcome to the Specialty Zoo, where everyone is unique, just like you! Today you will see some of the worlds fastest, smartest, and most feared animals!
R: We will study the strengths of each animal and realize that there is something special and wonderful about eah one!
F: Gather around everyone! (Music plays as all vents and animals come out.) As you know, the Olympics are being held this year.
R: I have exciting news. We have just been told that the Olympic committee has decided to allow an extra participant this year.
V1: But arent all of the nations already represented?
F: There is one kingdom that is not represented.
V2: Which one is that?
F: The animal kingdom! This is our chance to show just how special you animals really are! (lots of chatter)
T: But how will we know which animal can go to the Olympics?
R: We have a lot of visitors to the zoo today. You can each give the reasons that you think you should go and we will let our visitors decide.
F: Just remember! Whoever goes, will represent the entire animal kingdom! They will be unique! Just like everyone else!
(All exit, but the Kangaroo and vent 1 stay behind and sneak back to talk to the audience.)
K: Kangaroo 1: Ventriloquist 1
1: I just wanted to let you know why you should vote for the kangaroo! The kangaroo is an amazing animal. Tell them what you can do better than any other animal in the world.
K: I hold the world record for a high jump.
1: Can you jump this high? (Hold hand off ground about two feet.)
K: Thats easy.
1: How many feet CAN you jump off the ground.
K: I can jump both feet off the ground.
1: How high can you jump?
K: I can jump higher than this building.
1: I dont think so.
K: How high can the building jump?
1: She is also one of the fastest animals on land.
K: (makes race car noises) I AM the fastest!
1: You are not the fastest.
K: Yes, I am.
1: The fastest land animal is the cheetah.
K: We had a race and the cheetah was disqualified.
K: They found out he was a CHEETAH! Ha, ha, ha! Im faster than a car.
1: No youre not.
K: Im faster than YOUR car.
1: I drive a minivan.
K: Cough, cough (makes dying car noises)
1: The kangaroo can run 40 miles per hour. And her knees have special tendons which keeps her from getting tired easily. It isnt any harder for her to run fast than it is to run slowly.
K: I thought about going to the Olympics. I was going to represent Australia in the hop, skip and jump.
1: You would have done great! Why didnt you?
K: I decided just to skip it!
1: Ladies and Gentlemen, the kangaroo is a marsupial.
K: That means Im from mars. I look like Stitch. E.T. phonehome.
1: It means she has a pocket.
K: I dont have a pocket.
1: She has a pocket.
K: I dont even have pants.
1: She calls it a pouch. And she keeps something very special to her inside the pouch.
K: My Nintendo DS.
1: Hold your thumb up. That is how big a kangaroo is when it is born. The babies get different types of milk depending on their age.
K: My son likes chocolate.
1: She can also turn her ears backwards. (Try to turn it.)
K: OW! Wrong way! Im not a pretzel!
1: Her speed, jumping ability, and ability to care for her babies make the kangaroo a very special animal indeed.
K: I knew theyd get a kick out of me!
V1: She has powerful legs.
K: I have my mothers thighs.
V1: Well, kangaroo, I believe we should enter you in the jumping category!
K: Well, what are you waiting for? Hop to it!
NEXT Ventriloquist brings out an orangutan
2: Ladies and Gentlemen I would like to introduce you to the man of the jungle.
O: Im SUPERMAN! (wearing a superman t-shirt)
2: Youre not Superman.
O: Im SUPERMAN!
2: Tell them your real name.
O: Im King Kong! Big and strong.
2: He is very strong. He is an orangutan
O: OranguTARZAN! Ah-eee-ah!
2: He is a member of the ape family.
O: Im not a monkey.
2: You are very strong. He is 6 times stronger.
O: Than SUPERMAN!
2: Than a boy his size.
O: Im as strong as a girl!
2: The orangutan is mostly a vegetarian. He likes fruits and vegetables.
O: I like bananas!
2: He spends the first year of his life up in the tree. What happens after that?
O: I go out on a limb.
2: He rides around on his mothers back. But when he gets older.
O: She gets on my back.
2: The name Orangutan means Man of the Jungle, because he looks something like a man.
O: I look like that one in the third row. (points and stares)
2: But there are several differences.
O: (still staring) I have more hair.
2. (hold up his hand) Now if you will look at his hand.
O: (Puts his face into his hand to look at it.)
2: Not so close. Look at your hand. Now look at their hands.
O: (He holds his hand up really high. Makes grunting noise to show he wants audience to lift their hands.)
2: What do you see?
O: Monkey see, monkey do.
2: (hold up his hand) He has a very short thumb and long fingers. That is so he can
O: (starts sucking his thumb)
2: Thats so he can swing easily through the trees. His fingers act like a hook.
O: Captain hook!
2: And his thumb is short so it wont get in the way. His feet are also good for climbing. His toes are separated so he can
O: (He starts sucking his toe.)
2: So he can use them like a hand.
O: I want to do a trick.
2: You cant do a trick right now.
O: I want to make something disappear.
2: That would be a good trick.
O: Look in your pocket.
2: (Stick your free hand in your pocket.) What are you going to make disappear?
O: Your hand! (monkey chatter for laughter)
2: (pull out a balloon) How about this balloon?
O: Okay. Blow it up.
2: (blow it up some)
O: Too little.
2: (blow some more)
O: Too little.
2: How big do you want it?
O: You just want me to blow it up until it bursts! (or pops)
2: Then it disappears!
O: Here. You can make this disappear. Do you want it in your hand?
2: In my mouth!
O: Okay.. (stretch the end of the balloon so it fits across his mouth and he can bite down on it. Then you let go and he slowly starts to rise into the air. You pretend to pull him down. Do this 3 or 4 times.)
2: (Take balloon back, keeping it inflated.) What are you doing?
O: Just monkeying around.
2: I thought you were going to make it disappear?
O: I need a magic word.
2: (to audience) Can you tell him a magic word? (someone will) Did you hear that?
O: Yes. Have a banana.
2: No. Abracadbra.
O: Grab a cadaver.
2: You take the balloon and Ill say the magic word.
O: (takes the balloon)
O: (Lets go of balloon and it flies away. If someone holds it up or brings it up then the ape can say) Look! Another one! (Otherwise he just takes a bow.)
2: You never did tell us your real name.
O: Ding Dong. (pause) From Hong Kong.
2: You were born in Borneo. Say goodbye, Ding Dong.
O: Goodbye, Ding Dong!
_________________________________Lion tamer and lion.
T: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, puppeteers, and ventriloquists! When it comes to who should represent the animal kingdom in the 2008 Olympics there is only one logical choice! When you think of Africa, what animal do you think of? (Motion for them to tell you.) Shout it out! Just as I thought! The lion. Yes! The lion! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the King of the Jungle! Leo the Lion!
L: (snoring is heard)
T: I shall return!
Part 2: Ladies and gentlemen, there really can be no question as to who represents the animal kingdom. If you think of the zoo, what animal do you long to see? (motion again) Again! You answered the lion! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Pride of the Pride! Leo the Lion!
T: Ill be back.
T: (pause) Gentlemen and Ladies, I ask you again, what animal awes you the most, sending shivers up and down your spine simply by the noise it can make? (motion) Yes! Your favorite and mine! The lion!
T: It appears that our great athlete has overextended his daily exercise. Perhaps we should try to wake him. On the count of three let me hear your thunderous applause for the King of the Beasts! 1, 2, 3!
L: Oh! I hear thunder! Must be the rain forest.
T: Leo, I want you to meet all of these people.
L: (looks around) Oh, I cant eat ALL of them!
T: I said, Meet.
L: Good. I like meat!
T: Tell them why you are called King of the Jungle!
L: Because I sing like Elvis? Dont wanna be your lion, lions play too rough!...
T: No. You are called King because
L: Because my mother said its okay.
T: You are king because of your hair. It looks like a crown.
L: Yes. I have the hair of Samson. Hes my hero.
T: Theres a lion in that Bible story.
L: There is?
T: Yes. Samson was very strong. He tore the lion in two with his bare hands.
L: WHAT? I dont like Samson.
T: There is also a lion in the story of David.
L: I love David!
T: The lion was going to attack the sheep so David killed it.
L: I hate David! You know Im all through the Bible! The lion of Judah. Daniel in the Lions Den.
T: The devil goes around like a roaring lion.
L: I dont really like that one. I like the story where the wise men come and the shepherds bow down and say nice things to me!
T: I think that was baby Jesus.
L: No. It says, Go to the city of David. You will find a baby lion (pause) in the manger.
T: I want to tell them some of the things you can do better than any other animal.
L: Well I can sleep 20 hours a day.
T: How can you do that?
L: Im a teenager!
(Bring out the dolphin.)
4: Well, it looks like the king of the jungle is not the best bet after all.
T: Hello, _______.
L: Is that my dinner? I like seafood.
4: This is the animal that should represent us at the Olympics.
L: What? But Im king of the jungle! Whos she?
4: She is a dolphin. She is an amazing mammal.
L: There's something fishy about her. (to dolphin)
P: I am not a fish.
4: She does not have gills or scales.
L: No scales? How do you weigh yourself?
T: What makes you so special, dolphin?
P: Im cute!
T: But what makes you different from other animals?
P: Im cuter.
4: What can you do better than other animals?
P: LOOK GOOD!
4: The dolphin is one of the most intelligent animals. First are chimpanzees, then dolphins, then pigs, and then dogs.
T: What's next?
4: The dolphin is also a great swimmer. Her tail flukes speed her through the water as she gives a high 5 to her friends with her flippers.
P: And my dorsal fin helps to keep me balanced. When I swim I can hold my breath a LONG time!
4: The dolphin also has a unique way of finding food.
P: I use sound. So even if it's dark I can tell where something is.
L: Exactly how does that work?
P: As I swim through the ocean I say Marco. When something says Polo I know where it is!
4: The dolphin is well loved because she is so friendly.
L: (to T) Shes making me sick!
4: And she can swim underwater faster than a human can run!
L: Aha! Gotcha! A human runs really slow underwater!
T: So the lion is still the best choice.
P: No way! I can swim! I can jump! I can do somersaults!
L: But can you hang ten?
P: And I don't sleep all day long!
L: You really think you should go to the Olympics?
P: Yes, I do!
L: You must have a hole in your head!
4: I still think the dolphin is a very unique animal!
T: Yeah, yeah! Thats why they all look alike!
P: That does it! Put me down, Im going to slap him!
L: Oh, go jump in a lake!
P: I live in salt water.
L: Good. Now all I need is a little pepper!
All vents and animals enter and start arguing. Signs go up in the audience as ventriloquists throughout the audience start shouting for their favorite animal.
A police whistle is blown and Ranger Ronnie runs onto the stage.
R: Whoa! Calm down everyone! Please. Audience, will you please take your seats?
F: (figure) Wow! You guys are acting like a bunch of animals!
R: Now what seems to be the trouble?
K: Im hopping mad!
V2: These animals are driving my friend ape! (Orangutan nods)
L: The dolphin keeps making catty remarks!
V4: Were really, sorry, Ronnie. I guess we all want to go to the Olympics.
R: Well, you cant ALL go. They just want one representative.
F: Lets do this the democratic way.
R: And how is that?
F: Ill choose the winner.
R: Each of you is special! Lion, you were made to be strong and courageous.
You are very brave. Isnt that right?
L: Im afraid so.
F: But you cant swim like the dolphin. You dont even like water.
T: He hasn't had a bath in weeks.
R: And dolphin, you are fast in the water, but you can't run on land.
R: And kangaroo, you cant climb a tree
F: And she cant monkey around.
O: Im not a monkey.
R: The point is, you are all special! You each have a strength.
F: Imagine the zoo if all the animals were the same. I dont think we would get many customers.
R: Youre right.
F: I just had an idea! Why dont we put on our own show here at the zoo? We could let each animal do what they do best!
K: I could do the high jump!
R: The audience would love it!
O: And I could climb the tallest tree!
P: And I could do acrobatics and swim underwater!
L: And I could eat and sleep!
F: You can let out a gigantic roar and start the show!
L: Youre right! Here goes1, 2, 3(deep breath) MEOW! Ill work on it.
R: Come on everyone, lets get to work on the new show!
F: Well call it the YOUnique Zoo Revue!
R: Thatll do!
(all exit quickly)
Re: Zoo or science/nature center experience?
January 28 2011, 6:55 AM
I may not have the degree, but I do have the expertise. My fondness and knowledge about the subject is the reason why the venue interests me so much. Thanks for all the input, guys. Now to pound the pavement and put my feelers out.
January 28 2011, 6:32 PM
I did the San Diego Zoo some 17 years go. Some Zoos like San Diego do have outside entertainers but in the case of San Diego I later learned it was so subcontracted what I got for it and what commissions people apparently got up the ladder meant staying in San Diego and not taking other gigs for a long period of time was problematical. YES you can contact zoos directly and inquire. Most zoo entertainment or special event directors don't get up in the morning and say "By Golly, I think I'll hire a ventriloquist!" If anything they 'd be more prone to hire just puppets. But if you want to work at a zoo you need to contact them and not sit and wait for their call. If you do a zoo realize it is HIGHLY unlikely you will be packaged as a big star. You will be one more act unless you're contracted to do a major show. Also, in Zoos as in fairs, your performing venue may not be ideal. Don't expect a big stage since you could be in a less glamorous area. Zoos are like any venue: if you sit around and wait for the phone to ring and you're a vent it's likely you will...be sitting around and waiting for the phone to ring. You need to ring the other phones.
Zoos and Clowns
January 28 2011, 6:52 PM
Interesting... just got this in my email.
It presents another idea of hosting Fundraisers while promoting your business as an entertainer....or group of entertainers. Ax
We invite you to join us on Sat. April 30th 2011 for the WCS Run For the Wild at the Bronx Zoo. This is a wonderful Spring event full of fun and education. The cost of participating is less then entree at the Zoo for the day and there are alot of perks for joining the fun. We are raising money to help endangered animals around trhe world. If you cannot join us for the adventure please consider sponsoring the team, 'The Renegade Clowns', with a check or CC donartion to 'WCS' which can be done online. Our goal as a team is $2000. Your donation is 100% tax deductable. Look forward to hearing from you.
This message has been edited by axtell from IP address 188.8.131.52 on Jan 28, 2011 7:26 PM
puppets @ the zoo
January 30 2011, 5:46 PM
Friends of mine, Craig and Olga of FlexiToon Puppets, performed a series of shows at the Bronx Zoo last year as part of the "Boo at the Zoo" program. This was held during the entire month of October.
The Flexitoon Puppets did the puppetry segments for Shining Time Station on PBS and many other TV programs and did a top notch job at the Bronx Zoo. Other zoos throughout the country also present "Boo at the Zoo" during the month of October.
Remember the WIIFM radio? "What's in it for me?" You must convince the zoo that having you will more than pay for itself. Here is one thought. If you do a lot of schools in their area during the school year you could offer to pass out pamphlets about the zoo to schools after one of your shows and remind the kids that they can come and see another show AT THE ZOO on a given day. The zoo would have to pay for you, but it should see an increase in attendance due to your announcements.
previous post/ jungle ideas
August 6 2012, 9:56 PM
Above is a show I wrote for I-Fest. It has a lion and orangutan skit that might be useful for your jungle theme.
Current Topic - Zoo or science/nature center experience?