As we all navigate the new world of virtual meetings on top of the stress of a global pandemic, a Tampa man has come up with a novel way to lift work-from-home spirits: Have Tessa the goat or Cece the pig stop by for a visit.
Travis Claytor, a former executive with Busch Gardens and SeaWorld who now heads his own public relations and communications company, is making animals from his small farm available for virtual pop-ins. The farm is in Chicago, where he lives part-time.
“Since we’re quarantined, I’ve decided to help people liven up their virtual meetings with special animal attendees,” he said. “I mean, who wouldn’t love a surprise visit from a pig or a goat, right?”
If you go to tcstrategic.com/animal-attendees, you’ll find prices starting at $59 to $89 for a half-dozen options to stop by your team’s virtual meeting, from farm animals to house cats and dogs. You will learn that Tessa was once a “show goat” but is now a comfort animal for Mikey, a thoroughbred horse — also available for a visit.
Claytor is not the only one offering animals for your meetings. A California animal sanctuary started its Goat 2 Meeting program in March, charging anywhere from $65 to $750 to have any one of its farm animals, such as a llama or a goat, join business meetings or happy hours.
Tessa the goat, had a meeting on Monday with the team from 62Above, a creative digital branding agency in San Diego.
It was a surprise, and at first the team thought their daily meeting was getting Zoom bombed, Claytor said. But it soon turned into a great conversation.
“I think we are in such an interesting place where we are figuring out what the new norm is, and there is no norm," he said. “So you get this lighthearted jolt from what you had expected to be the daily check-in with their Zoom call, and they see a goat.”
Claytor said Tessa was her usual “diva” self, lying down during the meeting and continuing to eat her snacks. But he has been surprised that the animals seem to notice they are on camera.
Cece the pig perks up when Claytor pulls out his phone to put him on a conference call, and so did Mikey the horse.
“Cece loves to come check out the phone. His snout will come straight up to the camera," Claytor said. "I apparently have animals that love the camera.”
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the animals Travis Claytor makes available for virtual pop-ins live on his farm in Chicago, called Firefly Farm north. A previous version of this story said his farm was in Plant City.
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