By Annika Tomlin

Motivating kids to do homework is a challenge during the pandemic. Gilbert’s Arizona Goat Yoga is here to help by offering virtual tours for classes to meet yoga goats, alpacas and chickens.

“I have three kids of my own and I see how hard it is now that school is online to get motivated to really do it,” says Arizona Goat Yoga owner April Gould. “I was trying to think of a way that we might be able to help and so we decided to do virtual field trips, and that has been so much fun.”

Gould takes teachers and students around the Gilbert farm to show them the animals’ daily lives. The farm has 58 goats, 19 of whom are babies; two alpacas and six chickens.

“During a field trip I just walk around and show the animals and talk about them, and then there’s a lot of Q&A,” Gould says. “I get questions as simple as ‘what is their name?’ to “how long do they live?’ A lot of questions are super cute.”

According to Gould, some teachers ask their students to research the animals first and then they discuss what they’ve learned with the class. This makes the experience both fun and educational.

“The kids were coming back with all these facts about alpacas that I didn’t even know, which is pretty neat,” Gould says.

The pandemic has kept the farm from hosting goat yoga, during which baby goats parade in rainbow tutus, prance around at guests’ feet and run across their backs.

“It’s really sad right now that we’re not able to do goat yoga, because we have so many babies who need lots of love and attention and human interaction,” Gould says. “It’s unfortunate for them that they’re not getting a lot of human interaction from hundreds of in-person people.”

Gould says the virtual field trips, which are free for teachers, have been well received.

“The best thing for me is seeing the kids having fun and it being so different for them,” Gould says. “As soon as we get on, all I hear is, ‘Aww.’ I just love the excitement of the kids.”

Teachers have thanked Gould for breaking up the monotony of their new everyday life having school online.

“Since it’s virtual, it’s fantastic because you can do it anywhere,” Gould says. “Kids can get to see not only the goats and alpacas and things like that but they also get to see another place in the United States of what life is like right now in Gilbert.”

Besides the teachers’ free field trips, guests can visit virtually for 10 minutes for $35; have a customizable goat gram for $35; or a 30-minute “alpacalypse” conference call for $75. The conference call brings alpacas Kip or Napoleon to virtual business meetings for 30 meetings.

“I’ve been getting a lot of requests for birthday parties, which is a whole new level,” Gould says. “I’m excited for that because, apparently, virtual birthday parties are going to be kind of the thing for right now.”

Gould is anxiously awaiting her first goat breakup gram customer. The goat comes online with a sign that reads, “We can still be frieeeends.”

“I’m super excited for it when that day comes,” Gould says. “Let a goat break up and do all the dirty work. It makes the let down a lot easier that way.”

Aside from the fun, Gould and her team are having a tough time through the pandemic.

“For us, like many small businesses, it really hurts,” Gould says. “Our whole business is based on a lot of people in close gatherings, everything that we’re not allowed to do right now.

“It’s been really tough on us but also really hard on the animals. I know that sounds funny, but the goats are getting really depressed. They’re not used to just grazing and being bored.”

The animals are still playing, sleeping, eating and nursing throughout the day as if they were still doing goat yoga without an audience. Gould is considering continuing the virtual field trips after the stay-at-home order is lifted.

“Now that we’re on lockdown, I think it’s just become a new creative thing and maybe keeping it ongoing for the people out of state or out of the country,” Gould says. “I think it would be so neat to have a virtual tour or field trip to see somewhere different, and this kind of opened up a door for new ideas in that aspect.”

Arizona Goat Yoga, 480.269.4144, goatyoga.com, owner@goatyoga.com.

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