Back of house tours

Discover what goes on behind the scenes in the world of animal care at ECHO

Our Animal Care team is excited to offer personal hands-on animal tours to guests. Learn about the work that goes into maintaining the health of the animals and the quality of their habitats. With seven different options to choose from, pick the tour that most suits your interests or do them all!

Number of people allowed: up to 8
(Note: One group/family per tour; multiple groups/families may be on one tour if all are amenable to combined tours.)
Nonmembers: $10 per person + admission
Members: $5 per person
(Note: Ages 2 and under are free and do not count towards headcount.) 

Scheduling Details:

  • Seven different tour themes listed below.
  • Click the REGISTER NOW link when ready to book.
  • One event/tour per day.
  • Tours are approximately one hour.
  • Tours schedules vary. See specific tours below for available times.
  • Must be booked one week in advance.
  • Please see “Considerations” specific to individual tours to ensure an enjoyable experience.
  • Waiver required. You will be asked to sign when registering.
Animal Care Behind the Scenes

Available Monday thru Sunday (daily), 10 am, 1 pm, or 2 pm

Go on a journey beyond the exhibit floor to see what goes on behind the scenes! Join ECHO’s Animal Care staff to learn what it takes to care for our animal ambassadors as they take you on a tour of the back of house animal care to learn about animal diets, how we create our habitats, veterinary care, and how we manage our massive aquarium filtration systems.

Considerations:

  1. This is a more cursory trip behind the scenes and is available to all ages.
  2. Could involve climbing a vertical ladder and/or a set of dock stairs.
  3. Tour includes accessing the main filtration room which has multiple loud motors that cannot be turned off.
  4. Floors likely will be wet.
Caring for and Conserving Snakes

Available on Friday, 1 pm or 2 pm

Snakes are cool! Join ECHO’s Animal Care Staff behind the scenes where you’ll assist in their care and feeding while learning about the various snakes of Vermont. This is a fun hands-on opportunity!

Considerations:

  1. This can be but need not be a hands-on experience. Disposable gloves are available if preferred.
  2. Minimum age 5 yrs old for participation in animal handling
  3. Staff will assist guests in the handling of snakes. Snakes may bite.
Turtle Care and Conservation

Available on 

  • Saturdays, 8 am or 9 am
  • Sundays, 8 am, 9 am, 1 pm, or 2 pm

Come out of your shell and take a deep dive into the aquatic world of turtle care and conservation! Go behind the scenes with ECHO’s Animal Care staff and assist in turtle care and habitat maintenance. This is a hands-on opportunity! Learn about the natural history and conservation needs of the many beautiful native Vermont turtles.

Considerations

    1. Staff will assist guests in the handling of turtles. Turtles may bite. (Guests will not handle snapping turtles or adult softshell turtles.)
    2. This can be but need not be a hands-on experience. Disposable gloves are available if preferred.
    3. Minimum age 5 years old for participation in animal handling.
    4. Turtles are not fed during this program. To assist in feedings, please sign up for the  “Take a Turtle to Breakfast” tour.
Take A Turtle To Breakfast

Available on Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday at 8 am

Would you like to take a turtle to breakfast? You can! Come in bright and early to help ECHO’s Animal Care staff while we feed our turtle collection, all before ECHO opens to the public. This is a hands-on activity. Help set up the dining areas, feed the turtles, see who eats what and, when everyone’s done with their meals, help get all the turtles back to their happy homes here at ECHO. This is an early riser program — coffee will be available!

Considerations:

  1. This can be but need not be a hands-on experience. Disposable gloves are available if preferred.
  2. Minimum age 5 years old for participation in animal handling
Neonate Turtle Care

Available Monday thru Sunday (daily) at 10 am, 1 pm, or 2 pm

ECHO has been helping Vermont’s softshell turtles for over 15 years. Now’s your chance to help too! Come behind the scenes and assist in baby turtle care. Learn how to carefully handle these tiny turtles, what it takes to care for them in captivity, and how ECHO and the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department are working together to keep this threatened species from going extinct.

Considerations

    1. Requires stepping up onto a step stool or ladder to access turtle habitat.
    2. Floors will be wet
    3. This can be but need not be a hands-on experience. Disposable gloves are available if preferred.
    4. Minimum age 5 years old for participation in animal handling.
Aquatic Habitat Maintenance and Healthy Fish

Available on:

  • Monday, Wednesday, 8 am or 9 am
  • Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, 8am, 9 am, 1 pm or 2 pm 

There’s a lot of clean water at ECHO and there’s a lot of care devoted to keeping fish healthy. Come behind the aquatic habitats with ECHO’s Animal Care staff to observe, assist, and learn about the many aspects of maintaining clean, healthy habitats and fish. Learn what happens when new fish come to ECHO. How are they treated? How does someone do veterinary care on a fish!? Sneak a peek behind the scenes and find out the answers!

Considerations

    1. Floors will be wet
    2. Minimum age 5 years for participation in assisting with fish care
    3. Participatory programs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays only; Tuesdays and Saturdays programs are observational only.
    4. May not always be vet care going on.
  1.  
Feed the Big Fish

Available on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, 10 am, 1 pm, or 2 pm.

Would you like to help hand feed our largest fish in the big Lake Tank? Come behind the scenes with ECHO’s Animal Care staff and help feed these impressive animal ambassadors. Learn about the individual fish, their care at ECHO, and about each species and their natural history in the wild.

Considerations

    1. Requires climbing or otherwise accessing an elevated catwalk typically accessed via a vertical ladder.
    2. Feeding occurs in the main filtration room which has multiple loud filtration pump motors that cannot be turned off.
    3. Floors likely will be wet
    4. Requires reaching down into the aquatic display to hand feed fish
    5. Minimum age 12 years old for participants but any age can observe

Please note: The Leahy Center for Lake Champlain Inc. (dba “ECHO”) assumes no responsibility for any injury suffered by you as a result of your participation in one of ECHO’s back-of-house tours. Neither you, nor the heirs, administrators, executors, and assigns of either shall ever institute or aid in the institution of any action at law or otherwise against ECHO on account of any injury to you or your property resulting from your participation in one of ECHO’s back-of-house tours. You for yourselves and your heirs, administrators, executors and assigns HEREBY RELEASE the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain Inc., its Board of Governors, Trustees, Officers, employees and agents from and against any and all claims for personal injuries to you or loss of or damage to your property arising out of your participation in one of ECHO’s back-of-house tours.

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