Scroll down to see examples of the funny content we will produce.
New York Wild! (NYW!) is a unique travelling science program, bringing incredible live animal exhibitions & classes to inner city schools in New York City. These are some of the most extraordinary on-site educational shows & activities ever seen within city schools (see photos below). Unfortunately, a lack of adequete funding has forced NYW to temporarily shut down. This campaign is raising the funds needed to bring this amazing program back into NYC schools & communities.
Kids growing up in the city generally have very little exposure to nature or wildlife. This is particularly true of those living in "extreme urban" areas like NYC. Many people here go their entire lives without ever experiencing something like this.
NYW also operates as a rescue for abused and unwanted exotic animals that need proper homes.
A large portion of funds raised will be used to create bigger habitats & exhibit tanks for animals in the program.
Funds will also be used to produce funny viral pictures & videos for a social media campaign. These will be used in conjunction with a YouTube show that features educational components about wildlife & the environment.
Scroll down further for a brief "portfolio" of our work to get an idea of the type of work we can produce with your help. We have a creative knack for making funny & interesting content.
"Alligator in Petco" - our first viral photo
Please take a moment to read a little bit about this project and the cause behind it.
Below are brief summaries of each aspect of this cause followed by more in depth passages.
Youtube/ Social Media
•We're using viral videos to promote this fundraiser, and the hype will be the start of a YouTube channel/ social media project
•We have many more funny video concepts that we are ready to shoot once we get back up and running.
•Viral content will be used in conjuction with educational videos to raise awareness about the environmental cause
•The photos on this page are a portfolio of our work, giving you an idea of the type of content that we can produce with your help.
Below: brushing an alligators teeth!
NYW visits schools, daycares, community centers and other venues throughout NYC, providing educational live animal exhibitions
Huge portable aquarium displays allow students to get face-to-face with creatures like alligators & giant turtles, right in their own school. Programs feature up close & hands on interactions with wildlife, a chance to meet 30 or more individual animals and even an alligator feeding demonstration.
This is the first program of its kind to not only bring the animals, but set up a huge aquarium display on site.
Creative innovations like this make NYW one of the most unique animal outreach programs ever. With your help, we can bring more ideas to life and make this one of the most incredible experiences thesel schools have ever seen.
Below are photos from our exhibit programs.
Above: Snakes hatching in a students hands
Students have said NYW is "the best thing they ever did in school"
Thank you letter from a student:
Who Am I? I’m basically the New York version of Steve Irwin. With a Bronx accent instead of an Australian one.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page to read my story.
Me on Fox 5 “Good Day New York”.
Click here for the video
Below are brief summaries of the ideology behind our work, followed by more in depth passages.
•NYW is bringing live animal programs to high poverty, inner city schools and communities in NYC.
•This is the first wildlife outreach program focusing on inner city areas
•Here, schools face many challenges, including maintaining student interest in school
•A program like this can completely change the school experience for these kids.
•This is the only program to ever do this in New York City, and if it doesnt come back the kids here will lose this experience forevor.
The Environment & The City
“The battle for life on Earth will be won, or lost in cities.” - United Nations (UN) Convention on Biological Diversity 2014
•Today, the environment is in more trouble than at any other point in human history
•Nature is being destroyed around the world. More than most people realize.
•Scientists say we are on the verge of mass extinction and we may lose anywhere from 30-50% of all species on Earth within the next 30 years at the current rate.
•Most people have no idea this is happening.
•Programs like NYW can make a difference by spreading awareness and inspiring people to care.
•People in cities usually dont get to experience nature & wildlife. This often leaves them out of this cause.
•Giving urban people a chance to see these things with programs like NYW will make this cause relevant to them, even though they live in the city
•Getting people in cities to care more about this cause will change everything
•It’s not really possible to bring everybody to wild places, so you have to bring it to them with programs like this if you want to make them care.
•Exposing people to nature in extraordinary ways can inspire them to care.
•The city is the biggest frontier for the environmental cause
•PLEASE scroll down further to learn more about whats happening to the environment and our vision for how people in the city can help change this.
•NYW also operates as a rescue center for exotic creatures
•Many of the animals we’ve used in our programs were saved from abusive situations
A neglected & abused tegu lizard we rescued
•Talking to thousands of people each week, animals in need of new homes turn up regularly and we want to continue taking them in
•Animals like dogs and cats can be easier to find a new home for, but when it comes to reptiles (especially large ones), often the people who have them simply don’t know who to turn to
•Sometimes people who learn about this during our show are in this situation or know somebody who is, and call us for help
•If our program doesnt come back, many of these kinds of animals that need new homes wont be saved...
Some Animals are Misunderstood
•TV/ movies portray certain animals such as snakes in a negative way and spread misconceptions about them (ex// Snakes On Plane, Anaconda)
“Snakes On A Plane”
•When people don't get to meet these animals in real life, they think this is how they really are.
•Advocating for these animals and introducing them in a positive way can change the way people feel about them.
•NYW has been able to get hundreds of people over their fear of snakes.
•These animals deserve to have a voice through programs like this.
•People face their fears during our show
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” -Nelson Mandela
Why We Need Your Help
•After operating for many years without any outside funding or support, financial hardships and elaborate efforts to sabotage the program have forced New York Wid to shut down, for now.
•Everything has been put on hold and all of our animals have been temporarily re-homed while we rebuild.
•Were raising money so we can bring this incredible experience back to New York City and continue our work
•Funds will be used to establish a new animal facility for New York Wild!
•If we dont get enough funds to relaunch our program, it may not come back!
Below are more in depth passages about our cause
The Environment & The City
The world is currently in the midst of a "mass extinction". This would be the 6th to have occurred in the history of the Earth - the last one was when the dinosaurs went extinct. Thats the extent of whats happening today. But this time, its caused by humans.
Basically, this all means that today, everything "nature" is being destroyed.
On a massive scale. So massive its hard to understand or put into words. Every single day, tens of thousands of wild animals are killed by poachers, often in the most cruel and brutal ways imaginable. Millions of sharks literally have all of their fins chopped off and are thrown back into the ocean - still alive. As many as half of all the individual wild animals on Earth were killed within the past 40 years, and entire species have been wiped out. Many of the most popular animals like tigers, lions and elephants have been completely exterminated from entire regions where they once lived, and now can only be found in tiny fragments of what was their original native habitat (see map below). And this is the case for so many types of animals.
Tiger present range vs historical range (where they live now vs where they used to live)
Huge landscapes that were once wild habitat are destroyed every day for as far as the eye can see. Every week around the world, an area of rainforest about 3 times the size of New York City is cut down. Half of the worlds coral reefs have been killed off within the past 30 years, and some scientists say 90% or more will be gone by 2050 at the current rate. Global warming is melting entire landscapes in the Arctic. Huge oil spills happen ever more frequently and more and more trash is dumped into the ocean.
Deforestation map - Amazon Rainforest
Pink = areas where rainforest has been cut down
So much is happening...its hard to put into words. Take quick look at some statistics for clearer picture.
With all of this going on, at the current rate scientists estimate that we may lose as many as 30-50% of all species on earth within the next 30 years or so, and many of the ones that still remain will become very scarce.
By that time, rainforests and coral reefs will be completely gone or almost so, and many of the worlds most cherished animals will be extinct, including everything on the above table. Many could be gone much sooner (within 5-10 years). Just imagine, half of the worlds species going extinct within our Iifetime. lmagine living in a world where many of the most incredible things in life no longer exist. Thats what lingers on the horizon if nothing is done to stop it.
But its not too late. We're living during a critical point in history when theres still time to save this. We're the last people on Earth who have a chance to do anything about it. After us, there could be nothing left. Its up to humanity to stop this all from happening. This is one of the
biggest opportunities for our generation to leave an impact on the future.
Most people simply have no idea this is even happening.
And therein lies the problem.
Awareness is the answer. To save this, its going to take getting average everyday people to care about animals and the environment. On a massive scale. But how?
“The battle for life on Earth will be won or lost in cities.
To win this battle we need to win the heart and soul of the people.”
-United Nations (UN) Convention Biological Diversity
About 75% of all natural resources consumed by mankind is used in cities. The things people do here have a huge impact on the environment. Today, about 54% of the worlds population lives in cities. Thats 4.1 billion people, the vast majority of which are rarely exposed to nature and wildlife. In a world where nature is rapidly disappearing, how can we inspire people in the most unnatural of places to do something about it?
The big city may be the last place youd expect to find a naturalist. Most would probably shy away from it. Today, only 2-4% of the worlds ecological studies take place within urban environments. Naturalists are rarely involved in these places, which may have the most potential. Maybe the people who have had the least opportunities to experience something are the ones who will appreciate it most. They might be the ones who will ultimately care most to save it. But we will never know if we never involve them in this cause.
Its going to take getting the masses to care if were going to save this. And this is where the masses are. But to get them to care, we have to bring the fight to them. We have to show them firsthand whats at stake. Otherwise its hard for them to understand.
How can you get somebody to care about something they've never even seen before?
You show it to them with programs like this.
Bringing animal outreach programs like New York Wild to major cities can be the answer. This is where such organizations have the greatest potential to inspire people to care. Kids growing up in the city dont have many opportunities to be around nature and wildlife. Its something they dont get to experience, making them more Iikely to be influenced by a program like this. In a way, their perspective can give them an appreciation that makes this matter more to them than it does to others. The natural world has been alienated from these people, but that can be turned into an advantage. Showing something like an alligator to kid in NY, as opposed to one who gets to see animals all the time, has greater chance of becoming an experience with a lifelong impact.
The city is an untapped resource full of people who will make a difference if we bring this to their attention in an extraordinary way. We have to give them more exposure to wildlife if we want them to care about it. We have to bridge the disconnect between them and the natural world. Nature is a spectacle, but in todays world so many people just aren’t there to see it. Its not really possible to bring everyone to wild places, so you have to bring it to them with programs like this.
When city people see something like an alligator up close, they’re amazed. Blown away. Its a powerful experience, even for people who arent usually into this sort of thing. They think its incredible. Everybody stops and stares. And I think that will be the greatest asset in the fight to save these things. We need people to want to help them because they think they’re amazing. To do that we just have to show them and let the beauty of the animals speak for itself. Programs like this can do that.
The “oohs and ahhs” are whats going to save them. The WOW factor. The excitement and awe they make us feel. The thrill - thats whats going to make people care. We just have to bring it out in everybody with programs like this. People fall in love with the things that thrill and amaze them.
“Humans want to save the things that they love.” - Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter
To do this, the exhibits, the displays - they have to be extreme. People have to experience this in unbelievable, extraordinary ways. Ways that showcase the beauty of these things to the fullest extent possible. People need to be able to get right up next to the animals, see them in action and really feel what its like to be in the presence of such incredible things. Thats what Im trying to do with New York Wild.
If you can show these people and amaze them, I mean completely blow them away, and then attach message about the environment to it - thats it, theyre sold. They’ll help save the world.
You see, theres a certain fascination these things invoke in people. It’s something deeply rooted in human nature. This is evident in the way animals are universally present in every single culture around the world. I want to point out to you the way theyre silently embedded into so many aspects of mainstream culture today. You can find animals in logos for absolutely anything. More so than most people realize. People name companies, stores and products after them. In any major city, if you pay attention walking down a main street you cant get far without seeing a depiction of an animal somewhere. They have a huge presence in sports as mascots and symbols. Think of how many teams are named after animals. Almost half of the teams in the NFL have names with animals in them.
Its like people care deeply about these things but they dont even realize it. We just have to bring it out in them with programs like this.
The whole world needs to see things like this if we’re going to save it. People around the world need to have this experience if we’re going to get them to care about this cause.
So many people don’t know how amazing these things are because they just never get to see them. We need to show animals to people who have never seen them before. This way we give animals a chance to speak for themselves through the awe & fascination they invoke in us. You really have to feel the effect these things have on you to understand. It’s just breathtaking.
Their beauty speaks for itself as to why it needs to be saved.
“If we can touch people about wildlife, then they want to save it.” -Steve Irwin. The Crocodile Hunter
Inner City New York
Most of New York Wilds work takes place in the inner city. This is where these programs are needed most. Many animal outreach programs that do cover urban areas dont even go into the inner city. Kids here miss out on these kinds of experiences more so than anywhere else. There’s a tremendous lack of opportunity for kids living here. Subject matter like this is usually closed to inner city, high poverty schools.
Schools here face many challenges.
In America, about 1 in 6 kids lives in poverty. In New York City, this is doubled - 1 in 3 kids live in poverty. ln inner city areas like Harlem, Central Brooklyn, and the South Bronx (the poorest congressional district in the nation), its even higher, with almost half of all children living in poverty. In some concentrated neighborhoods within these areas, 60-80% of children are born into poverty. This all leads to student homelessness. Thats right, students that are homeless. In the 2[phone redacted] school year, over 33,000 NYC public school students were living in homeless shelters. In some areas, as many as 1 in 4 students experience homelessness by the time they’re in 5th grade. In some of the schools where we work, nearly half of the students are living in shelters.
Students in the inner city are 5 times more likely to drop out than in suburbia. Many of the high schools have a graduation rate of 50% or less.
Schools here often suffer from a lack of resources - things like broken desks, outdated computers and textbooks, inadequete access to proper science equipment, under-qualified, stressed teachers who dont want to teach in an urban setting. Budget cuts lead to fewer teachers and bigger classes, which makes it harder to focus on students who need individual attention. Outside of school, kids often dont have access to computers or a stable setting to do their work. Older students can be treated like criminals, having to go through metal detectors before entering the building. All of this diminishes students interest in school.
lt can be a struggle to keep students engaged, especially in science subjects. A program like New York Wild will completely change that. Knowing they’re going to get to see things like this will make them excited about coming to school. Just imagine what it must be like for these kids, getting to school and seeing huge aquariums set up on stage with alligators and other creatures. Something like this completely changes the school experience for them. Many of these kids never really leave their neighborhood, and some havent even been to the zoo. Programs bringing nature into the lives of inner city youth by taking them to wild places and ranches have been very successful in making an impact on their lives ( City Kids DC , Compton Jr Posse , Gentle Barn , NYC Sierra Club ). New York Wild will reach thousands and thousands of these kids each year by bringing it directly to them - right in their school, right in their community on a regular basis.
Our shows cover more than just the school students. Were able to effectively engage all age groups, from day care children to adults. We do shows at food drives (especially turkey drives around Thanksgiving), in housing project community centers, block parties, day care centers, at-risk youth programs and at community fairs/ events. Our school programs often include a parent involvement event, which allows parents and families to come see the exhibit and watch performances after school or on weekends. Many schools tell us more people come to this than any other parent function - even more than Christmas/ holiday events.
Programs that have speakers come to the school are usually geared towards elementary and younger students. Presenters that arent experienced with urban audiences often have trouble engaging middle and high schoolers in these areas. Many schools we visit dont even want to try having us work with the older students at first, due to unsuccessful outreach programs theyd used in the past. But once they see us in action and see our success, they usually invite us back every year. We’ve been able to effectively engage the older kids in these areas, which is unique for an animal outreach program. Being able to connect with these age groups is especially important, because this is when students are most vulnerable to losing interest in school. This where where we focus much of our work, because this is one of the places where its needed most.
This is a way of showing students they can pursue these kinds of interests even though they live in the city, and gives them way to do so. When we have enough resources, we will also start a volunteer program as a way to get these kids even more involved with the animals.
Many of the animals used in our educational programs have been rescued from abusive situations. Others simply could no longer be cared for or housed properly. Reptiles can suffer from some of the worst animal cruelty in the world. Some of our rescue animals have severe deformities and wounds from the abuse and negect they’ve been subjected to.
When people at shows see these rescues firsthand, its a powerful experience. We use this to emphasize the importance of doing proper research before getting a pet, so you only select a type whose needs you can properly provide for. Many animal species should only be kept by experts, and these rescues are vivid examples of why. This is a main focus of our shows.
Unfortunately, when it comes to reptiles and other exotic animals, there are far fewer rescue/ shelter options than there are for animals like dogs & cats. It can be very difficult to find a new home for an exotic creature that can no longer be cared for. We provide a home for many animals that end up in these situations. New York Wild didn’t start out as rescue, but was obligated to become one. Talking to thousands of people about this subject every week, rescues started turning up frequently, often because people who had these animals just didnt know who to turn to. Most of the donations we receive through this campaign will be used to expand and improve our animal facility. This will allow us to significantly increase our rescue work and take in more animals in need.
Snakes Are Misunderstood
Snakes are one of the most feared and misunderstood animals in the world, but this show is changing people's minds by becoming a voice for them.
The phobia of snakes (ophidiophobia) is the 2nd most common phobia in the world. About 10% of the global population suffers from an actual phobia of snakes, and about 1 in 3 people are reported as having a serious fear. In many studies, it is reported as the #1 fear, even amongst fear of heights, fear of public speaking, claustrophobia, etc.
When people dont get to meet animals in real life, they often develop an understanding of them that is based almost entirely on what they see on the news, on TV or in movies. When certain animals are typically portrayed as bad or as villains, people assume this is how they really are. This is especially true when it comes to snakes. When many people think of them, the first things that come to mind are movies like Snakes On A Plane and Anaconda.
There are so many misconceptions about these animals - people think that theyre slimy, that they’re vicious and will chase after you. People think theyre evil and ferocious but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s not right for these animals to be treated this way. These are actually some of the most shy, beautiful, innocent and peaceful creatures in the world - but you’d never know unless you got a chance to meet one like this. The lack of exposure is what allows these kinds of myths and misconceptions to exist. Introducing these animals in a positive way gives us a chance to advocate for them by showing people firsthand that they arent as bad as they’d thought. Even for people who dont fully overcome their fear during the show, its a major step in the right direction. For our urban audiences who usually haven’t ever seen snake in real life, were able to give them a positive first impression of these animals that can last a lifetime.
Hearing the way we talk about them, and then getting to see one up close, see how beautiful the colors are, pet one and feel how smooth they are - this is usually enough to change peoples minds. Seeing other guests, especially the kids, petting and holding them with no problem, encourages even the most scared members of the audience to give it try. Even the teachers, believe it or not. We gradually work our way up to the most terrified people. For those who are very afraid just getting them to pet one is a big accomplishment. For some people, just being in the same room and being close to them is a big deal. Some of these people are so afraid, they’re literally tearing up as they come up on stage to touch one. But time and time again, it happens. Its one of the most rewarding feelings to see this happen as result of our work. Its what we live for.
You can really change peoples perceptions with a program like this. We’ve been able to get hundreds of people to overcome their fears during our shows. Weve been able to change the way even some of the most terrified people feel about snakes.
How’d you get into this? That’s something people ask me all the time. It’s just something I’ve always had, this indescribably deep love and passion for animals and the environment. Nobody really knows where it came from. I was just born with it - I’ve been into this since I was like 2 years old. Some things are just meant to be.
My name is Erik Zeidler. Im 26 years old, and started New York Wild when was 19. I grew up in the Bronx and have spent most of my life here. I know what its like to grow up in the city with this interest - opportunities to be involved with it are few and far between. But all of this just made me love it more.
I grew up watching Steve Irwin on TV, and hes always been an idol for me. I’m pretty much working to become the New York version of him. Many of the values and principles surrounding my cause were instilled in me from watching his show. I’ve always felt very strongly about the fact that animals like snakes are so misunderstood, and he’s a big part of the reason why. So much of this comes from what he taught me. Today, sometimes I’ll watch his show, hear the way he talks about the animals and just think, “wow...so this is where I got it from”. All these years later. His message lives on through me. And because of that, he still inspires me to this day. Just from seeing how morals and passion can be passed down like that. He showed me its possible to do the same. Seeing the way he inspired me to get more into this has made me realize I can do the same for others.
I do all of this because I know my work will have the same impact on some of these kids the way Irwin did that for me.
The major turning point in my life happened right before New York Wild started. During a research expedition, I got bit by venemous rattlesnake and almost died. Very nearly died. I had an allergic reaction to the venom, which is basically the worst possible thing that could happen in this situation. My heart stopped (I flatlined), I died - twice in the first hour. I stopped breathing, I had no pulse, no blood pressure. Then my lung collapsed. I had to be flown in a helicopter because the first hospital didn’t have enough antivenom. I was basically pronounced dead. But by some miracle I survived. This near death experience changed everything for me...it made me feel like survived for a reason and have purpose or destiny. And now through this cause, Ive found it. Im still alive because Im here to make a difference. I came so close to dying that its hard for me to feel otherwise. The bite left me with a huge scar - a huge chunk of my hand is missing.
During my performances, the scar and the story gives so much power to my message. Theres just something about seeing somebody advocate for a thing that almost killed them. Now its part of the show.
I started New York Wild within weeks of getting out of the hospital. I was only 19 at the time. I didn’t know anything about running a company, had no business experience, and very little resources. But I was ambitious - I had a vision for what this could become and was determined to give it my all. Surviving the bite gave me newfound energy and I knew I could find a way to make it work. And I did.
Since then, Ive spoken to about 150,000 people at close to 600 schools and other venues throughout NYC. I’ve had my story featured in books, on the news, and I’ve been on live TV. And what I’ve learned thats stood out most, is that you really can change the way people feel about something. I never could’ve known how much of an impact you can leave on people. Its incredible. My work with New York Wild is why I’ve become ever more passionate about this cause. I’ve seen that inspiring people to care really is possible.
I always knew that things were happening to the environment, but had no idea how bad it was until I started doing more research these past few years. It just changes you forever, finding out that everything you’ve ever loved may cease to exist. I grew up Ioving these things, having this dream and then I get here and find out it’s all in trouble. Its brought something out in me to do something about it and I’ve never been the same since.
Theres no way I’m going to do anything less than fully & completely dedicating my life to this cause and changing the way people feel.
Whatever it takes to make difference. This is just who am.
I’ve found a way to turn my passion into a career at a young age. This is a dream that Ive had since I was just 2 or 3 years old, and I’ve turned it into my life. Even in a place like New York City, which may seem like an unlikely setting for this type of career. It’s a lot of hard work and sacrifice, its full of trials and tribulations, but its all worth it. Its the most fullfilling & meaningful kind of life you can have when you follow your passion. I hope my story can serve as an inspiration for others that its possible to do the same and follow your dreams, no matter what your interests are.
This whole time Ive been working with very little resources or assistance. No funding or sponsors. Making ends meet. I learned all of this on my own. Using innovation, inventiveness and creativity to make things work. The struggle has definitely developed my skills to the maximum. But now its time to take things to the next level. With the proper funding, I can only imagine what is possible. Ive got the ambition, tenacity and determination to make it happen. I just need some help.
I’m grateful to have seen this dream unfold into a vision and way to leave an impact on the world. This project now is step into greatness, into maximizing this impact and potential. I’ve been able to do so much with so little, I can only imagine how much will be possible when I get the right capabilities through this fundraiser. My views, my talents and my vision will make a difference in this cause. Help me leave my mark and change the world.
*Funds raised may also be used for any legal fees involved with relaunching the program.
*If for any reason we are unable to re-establish this program in NYC, we will use the funds to create a similar program in a different location (preferably another major city)
- Shante Salter
- Melanie Muzsik
- Mila Liakhovitser
- James Nieves
#1 fundraising platform
More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more
In the rare case something isn’t right, we will work with you to determine if misuse occurred. Learn more
Expert advice, 24/7
Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more