By Carrie Dilley
Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum Visitor Services and Development Manager
BIG CYPRESS — While the domesticated animals in our lives (particularly our dogs, maybe less so our cats) have enjoyed seeing us all day during these recent times, have you wondered how our free roaming friends have been faring? Our Alligator Pen Pal program, launched on April 13, brings Sally, our resident alligator, into the homes and hearts of people everywhere. Sally has brought smiles to the faces of museum staff and visitors for years, and now people who may not be able to see Sally in person can interact with her through handwritten or email correspondence.
People can chose to either write Sally a letter and send it to the museum, or send an email to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Everyone who writes to Sally receives a personalized letter or email in return.
We have been trying to come up with fun ways to reach our community during the closure and engage in new and interesting ways. The Alligator Pen Pal program is just one of a number of new activities that we have launched in the past few weeks. Our education coordinator created numerous games and puzzles, along with a guided painting activity, which have been distributed on our social media channels. These activities bring our exhibits and collection into people’s homes. Although the Alligator Pen Pal program is intended to keep youth and adults alike occupied during the closure, we don’t plan to stop the program once we resume normal business operations.
So far the program has been very well received. In the first week, we have already received five letters in the mail and three emailed letters. All the letters we have received are from children, the youngest being just three years old! Of course, the author may have had a little help penning that letter. Most of the senders have asked her specific questions including: what she looks like, how she likes being an alligator, what kind of toys she likes, does she like bacon, and does she like cars? The letters are signed with love and many include drawings. It has been great to see the support and appreciation of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki from our youngest constituency, especially during this challenging time.
We are currently promoting the program on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Reach out to Sally today—she’s sure to write you back!