The Utica Zoo will help liven up your next video conference call by including one of their animals in a "virtual encounter".

The Utica Zoo has been offering animal encounters for years. In fact, their red panda encounters are among the most popular, with guests visiting from around the country to interact with and feed the cuddly critters.

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In spite of the pandemic that's closed attractions around the state, including the zoo, you can still get up close and personal with your favorite zoo animals - virtually.

The Utica Zoo will set up a Zoom conference call - a “Call with the Wild” digital experience -  with the many of their animals, including the red pandas, the sea lions, and others. Like some of your co-workers, they won't be wearing pants.

You can set up the virtual encounter at uticazoo.org/encounters. Expect to pay $35 for 10 minutes with the animal. Not only will it be worth every penny to see your boss interact with a wild animal, your payment will help support the zoo during this challenging time.

Staff will stay on your call for around 10 minutes. They will start with a quick introduction of themselves and the animal and then let the animals "shine". The duration and involvement is dependent on the animals, as not all may stay interested in being on camera for the full 10-minute call.

If you'd like to support the Zoo with out arranging a virtual encounter, you can do that on their website at uticazoo.org/donate.