Tired of seeing the same old faces in every Zoom meeting? Don't be a cow-ard, invite a farm animal to join.
Sweet Farm, an animal sanctuary in Half Moon Bay, California, is offering people all over the world the opportunity to invite a llama, goat, cow or other farm animal to make a cameo appearance on a live video call.
The Silicon Valley non-profit launched its "Goat 2 Meeting" initiative on March 25. Their mission is simple: educate people on the negative impacts of industrialized farming while giving them something to smile about.
"After the coronavirus happened and shelter in place went into effect, we had to completely rethink the way we were driving revenue and executing our mission," Nate Salpeter, Sweet Farm co-founder, told CNN.
"Our board member, Jon Azoff, came up with the idea and said, 'You know, we're having so many company meetings and happy hours but they're all boring. What if we could get a goat or llama on the call'?"
In less than a month, Sweet Farm has already completed more than 100 calls and received more than 500 additional requests. The response has been "phenomenal," Salpeter said, adding that their call schedule is filled until June.
The animal cameos start at $65 for a 20-minute appearance on a personal call with up to six people. For $100, an animal will appear on a corporate call for 10 minutes with unlimited participants. Those who book can choose from a range of farm animals, including a cow, goat, llama, pig, sheep, or turkey.
Corporations that want a longer or more interactive experience can pay $250 for a 25-minute session with an animal or $750 for a VIP tour of the farm.
Proceeds from "Goat 2 Meetings" will help support Sweet Farm in its mission to rescue farm animals and educate the public about industrialized farming. It also helps cover the cost of free calls offered to teachers and students.
A mission to spread joy and awareness
The farm animals -- which have so far joined streaming birthday parties, happy hours, coffee breaks and corporate meetings -- come from "very bad situations," said Salpeter.
"We're here to educate the public and change their perception of the food system while encouraging people to rethink what they're putting on their plate," Salpeter said, adding that the interactions help people better understand farm animals.
"Cows behave a lot like your pet dog. They're just much larger, but people don't make that connection. This is a good way for people to get up close and connect with the animals in a respectful way because it's just someone the animal is comfortable with and a phone."
"Goat 2 Meeting" is doing so well that Sweet Farm has begun referring some requests to affiliate sanctuaries that offer similar experiences to fund their operations during the pandemic.
Salpeter said the initiative's success extends far beyond raising much-needed funds. It's also helped spread joy at a scary time.
"With animals, everything is totally unscripted," he said. "People's spirits get lifted for just a little bit in this crazy, crazy time when people drastically need it."
"At the time same, we're teaching people a serious lesson. There is so much news about things like the coronavirus and swine flu that come out of the way people treat animals. We've been working for years and years to show people that this is a byproduct of the way we treat them," Salpeter said.