Do you have a future vet in your household? A budding zookeeper? A prospective animal behaviorist? If so, you know that planning a special birthday party for the philotherian (aka animal lover) in your family can be a real challenge. Here are a few ideas to help make this a birthday they’ll never forget.
The Arizona Animal Welfare League and SPCA offer several birthday party packages to suit your child’s interests. Featuring exotic animals like chinchillas, lizards, and ferrets and more familiar pets like bunnies, parrots, dogs, and cats, the AAWL’s animal specialists will provide detailed introductions to the traits and characteristics of each of their featured creatures. Starting with intimate animal encounters, animal themed invitations and decorations, and a private tour of the facility, your child is sure to be enthralled. One birthday package even offers instructions on dissections, suturing, and proper intake exams. If you prefer to have the party at your house, the AAWL will even bring the animals—and the fun—to you. Visit their website to learn more.
The Arizona Humane Society also has birthday packages for the party animal in your life. Party participants take a tour of the 20-acre Nina Mason Pulliam Campus and barn, learn a lesson about animal compassion, meet a special animal visitor, and a work on a Shelter Buddies craft to help encourage animal adoption. The highlight for the guest of honor is the sure to be the privilege of naming a shelter animal. Partygoers are encouraged to bring in a gently used towel or blanket as well as a can of pet food or treats for the homeless animals, making this a great opportunity to focus on giving meaningful gifts. Committed to building awareness about homeless animals, the Arizona Humane Society uses these parties as an opportunity to teach children about making a difference in the lives of animals. You can download a party application and learn more at the Arizona Humane Society’s website.
If you’d like to keep the party closer to home, why not have an animal awareness party right in your own backyard? You can make homemade dog treats to donate to your local animal shelter and make “Adopt Me” signs for the animals at the shelter. For an action-packed party activity, you could create a neighborhood scavenger hunt. Call your shelter in advance to find out what items they currently need then create your scavenger hunt list. With adult supervision, children can go door-to-door in small groups, asking for the items on the list and perhaps even handing out information about the local shelter or the animals awaiting adoption. As a bonus, after the party is over, your child has the opportunity of going with you to donate all these items to the shelter.
Birthdays are great occasions for teaching children about living charitably. Bringing together a child’s love for animals with an opportunity to improve animal welfare and enhance awareness could ignite a love for animals that lasts their entire life.