The couple behind a business that brings animals to events is working to protect the animals and help people live with wildlife.
Jennifer and Rory Hoilman, of West Chester Twp., own and operate ZooPro Adventures Ohio, which offers more than 45 different species of animals to be shown at schools, celebrations and corporate events for entertainment and education. A typical birthday party includes showing as many as 15 different animals.
The diverse array of animals runs the gamut, from rabbits, parrots and tortoises to a bobcat, opossum, bats and skunks. It also has snakes, lizards, spiders and invertebrates like giant African millipedes.
The couple got the idea for the business after Rory Hoilman volunteered at the Virginia Zoo from 1997 through 2009 as a keeper’s aid, caring for and feeding many types of animals, helping to design and build enclosures and more.
Sometime in 2004, the keeper with whom Rory worked saw a need for animal education and outreach in the community.
“He wanted to bring exotic animals to public and private events like corporate picnics, birthday parties, school and cub scouting events, city festivals, and any where people could learn from and find joy in the animals,” Rory Hoilman said.
In 2005, with the zoo not offering that kind of service, ZooPro Adventures was launched in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Hoilman worked for the owner of the program from its inception through 2015, when the Hoilmans relocated to Cincinnati when Jennifer Hoilman accepted a position as senior dean of nursing at Fortis College in Ohio.
Rory Hoilman said that two years of not working with animals found him with the urge to dive back into animal care and education to the public.
“I contacted my mentor and friend to ask to use the name ZooPro Adventures in Ohio and he said ‘yes,” he said. “We had a small collection of our own exotic animals that included chinchillas, tortoises and turtles, ferrets, and macaws, but as we built our own ZooPro Adventures business and acquired the required permits and insurance, we acquired other animals and prepared to bring the experience to the Cincinnati and Dayton areas.”
The business is not the couple’s day job. He is a full time Dayton firefighter and she continues to work a dean of nursing at Fortis College.
“We have the best of both worlds with our careers and our animals,” said Jennifer Hoilman, who does all of the paperwork and social media for ZooPro while her husband handles most of the presentations. Their two children — Rowan, 7, and Wally, 5 — help present the animals at the events and the entire family cares for the animals, which are kept and cared for at a private facility.
ZooPro Adventures Ohio acquires its animals from breeders, people that no longer wanted them, animal expos. It also acquired several from the original ZooPro, whose owner retired from education and shut down the business.
the business is licensed by Ohio and the USDA, is insured and has all necessary permits.
The Hoilmans said they have always had a love for animals.
“We believe that teaching the public about animals and wildlife will better protect the animals and help people live with wildlife,” Jennifer Hoilman said. “We hope that through educating the public, people will change their minds about some animals, and may even invite certain animals in their backyards that once were pushed away.”
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