Co-Owner

David Kleven aka Critterman

Since Establishing Animal Edutainment, Inc. in 1990 with wife Sue, David has presented over 15,000 education outreach programs for over a million people.

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His Critterman presentations won him the honor of being voted “Best Party Idea” by the Dallas ObserverD Magazine has named Animal Edutainment “Best Traveling Zoo” in  2003, and named Critterman “Best Children’s Entertainer” in 2011. He believes that you have to touch the heart to reach the mind, something he practices in all of his programs.

In addition to his outreach program presentations, David is the current education chairperson for the Zoological Association of America. Animal Edutainment became the first and only education outreach organization to be accredited by the Zoological Association of America in 2014. Besides being responsible for developing educational programs for ZAA membership, he has also helped to raise thousands of dollars for conservation efforts.

Dave can be seen on various segments of The Most Extreme series which airs on Discovery Network’s Animal Planet. He and several Animal Ambassadors have made numerous appearances at events on Discovery Network behalf. He has had the good fortune to work with Jack Hanna of Animal AdventuresJeff Corwin of The Corwin ExperienceSteve Irwin of The Crocodile HunterJim Fowler & Peter Gros of Wild KingdomChris & Martin Kratt of Kratt’s Creatures, Zoboomofoo, & Be The Creature.

Dave has the remarkable ability to capture children’s attention and win their adoration. He began in high school when he worked as costume character Chuck E. Cheese. He quickly learned the magic of animated communication and unwavering patience.

Prior to enrolling as a student at America’s Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College in 1988, Dave worked for thoroughbred race horse trainer Penny Lewis, and worked as a docent at Como Zoo in MN. While attending America’s Teaching Zoo, Dave gained valuable experience with internships at Los Angeles ZooSanta Barbara ZooMonkey Jungle, and Universal Studios in Hollywood.

Instructor:

– 2009 to present:  Safe animal handling techniques, and public speaking. Zoo Staff and Volunteers.

– 1997: “Exotic Animal Behavior & Handling”, Cedar Valley College Veterinary Technician Program

– 1996: Cooke County College – Animal Kid Camp

– 1994 – present: TEEAC endorsed site – Professional Development Seminars for educators

– 1991 & 1992: “Exotic Animal Identification and Restraint Methods” Texas Department of Health.

Special Speaker:

– 2016   Education Workshop for the Zoological Association of America Mid-Year Conference.

– 2013 “The Three I’s” – for the Zoological Association of America Conference.

– 2011   “Frank Bring Em’ Back Alive – Who Inspired you” for the APWE Conference.

– 2010  “History of the Association of Professional Wildlife Educators” for TAZE Conference.

– 2002: TX Dept. of Health Conference on regulations related to “Dangerous Animal” legislation.

– 2001- 2009: Presented programs for Discovery Network’s Animal Planet.

– 2000- present North Texas Regional Library System

– 1998:  Dallas Zoological Society

– 1996 – “Environmental Nuts and Bolts” Texas PTA

– 1996 – present: Regular television segments on DFW area TV stations.

Related Activities:

– 2016- present:  Named Chair of the Education Committee for Zoological Association of America.

– 2012- present:  Serve on Education Committee for Zoological Association of America.

– 2007 Recognized with HR 505 by the Texas House of Representatives for our outreach programs.

– 2006- present: Appeared on episodes of Animal Planet’s The Most Extreme animal series.

– 2002: Provided Animal Ambassadors for Animal Planet’s Crocodile Hunter’s Steve & Terry Irwin when in DFW.

– 2001 – 2009: provided animal ambassadors for Discovery Network and Animal Planet Expo Tour.

– 2001- 2005: Worked on cooperative program with University of North Texas, graduate students ORCA program.

– 2001: Provided Animal Ambassadors for Animal Planet’s Jeff Corwin for appearance in TX.

– 2000 – present: Provides Animal Ambassadors for Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom’s Jim Fowler, Peter Gros, and Stephanie Arne.

– 1999 – present: Provides Animal Ambassadors for Jack Hanna, Columbus Zoo.

– 1997 – present: Consultant to TX House Representatives & Senators on issues of proposed animal legislation.

– 1997 – present: Consultant to TX Dept. of Health regarding Rabies regulations and  “Dangerous Animal” legislation.

– 1993 -present: Reviewer of animal related children’s materials for Reviews from Parent Council.

– 1990 -present: Designs and edits environmental education resource materials for educators.

Co-Owner

Susan Kleven aka SafariSue

“Safari Sue” as she was sometimes known to DFW area families retired in 2004 when Susan was hired to be the Director of the Frank Buck Zoo in Gainesville, Texas.

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Susan graduated from Pearce High School in Richardson, TX. She attended UNT in Denton, prior to attending America’s Teaching Zoo in Moorpark, CA. in 1988. While a student at UNT Susan worked part-time at Spring Creek Animal Clinic in Plano and at Estes Riding Stables in Denton. 

While attending America’s Teaching Zoo Susan had the opportunity to gain experience at: Los Angeles Zoo, Santa Barbara Zoo, Monkey Jungle, Animal Actors of Hollywood, and Hexagon Farms Endangered Cat Breeding Facility

Since establishing Animal Edutainment, Inc. in 1990 with husband Dave, Susan has had the  opportunity to work with: Jack Hanna of Animal AdventuresJeff Corwin of The Corwin ExperienceSteve Irwin of The Crocodile HunterJim Fowler & Peter Gros of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,

Susan & husband Dave can be seen on various segments of The Most Extreme series which airs on Discovery Network’s Animal PlanetAnimal Edutainment was awarded “Best Traveling Zoo” in D Magazine’s Best of Dallas Issue 2003.

Susan was the President of the Association of Professional Wildlife Educators (APWE), which merged with the Zoological Association of America, where she served as the education chair for nearly 4 years.

“Safari Sue” as she was sometimes known to DFW area families retired in 2004 when Susan was hired to be the Director of the Frank Buck Zoo in Gainesville, Texas.  Under her leadership, she has helped to transform the zoo into the amazing accredited facility it is today. Please visit the “Best Little Zoo in Texas!” You can learn more about prices, directions, activities, and special events at www.frankbuckzoo.com

This list is out of date.

To summarize between 2004 and the present, Dave and Susan have attended and/or presented at the following conferences:

Texas Association of Zoo Educators
Zoological Association of America
Association of Zoos and Aqauriums
American Association of Zoo Keepers
Animal Behavioral Management Alliance
Zoolgical Registrars Association

We strive to always be current on animal husbandry, management, and educational program standards.

Feb. 2004: Dave & Animal Ambassador visit with Chris & Martin Kratt in Hollywood on the set of the Ellen Degeneres show.
Jan. 2004: Sue attends Texas Aquarium & Zoo Educator‘s (TAZE) annual meeting @ Dallas Zoo.
Sept. 2003: Association of Professional Wildlife Educators (APWE) website goes online.American Zoo & Aquarium Conference, Columbus, OH. Sue visited with fellow educator’s.

March 2003:  Animal Behavioral Management Alliance (ABMA) Conference, Tampa, FL.

Sue is appointed President of Association of Professional Wildlife Educators (APWE).

Oct. 2002: Association of Professional Wildlife Educators (APWE) list serve goes online.
Summer 2002: Dave & Animal Ambassadors visit several states for Animal Planet appearances.
June 2002: Sue & Dave & Animal Ambassadors provide animal support for Jack Hanna at Sea World Texas.
March 2002: Sue & Dave & Animal Ambassadors provide animal support for Jeff Corwin at  Children’s Festival in Houston.

Feb. 2002: Animal Behavioral Management Alliance (ABMA) Conference in San Diego, CA.

Sept. 2001: Sue attends annual Science Teachers Conference CAST.
May ’01: Sue & Animal Ambassador visit Tonight Show for Steve Irwin appearance.

April ’01: Sue & Animal Ambassadors at Sea World Texas for presentations with Jack Hanna.

March ’00: Sue & Animal Ambassadors at Sea World Texas for presentations with Jack Hanna. Sue &  Animal Ambassadors at Children’s Festival in Houston to present a program with Peter Gros of  Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.

Jan ’00: Attended annual Texas Aquarium & Zoo Educator‘s meeting in Tyler.
October ’99: Guests speaker at American Association of University Women’s (AAUW): Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) Conference at UTD campus in Dallas. Promoting the importance of math and science studies to junior high school girls.
July ’99: Attended the PTA summer seminar conference. Presented a session on the importance of including fun and educational experiences about animals and the environment at summer camps. 
April ’99: Sue & Animal Ambassadors at Sea World Texas for presentations with Jack Hanna.
March ’99’:  Attended the 2nd annual Statewide Systemic Initiative (SSI) on Math & Science Conference for informal educators. Discussed the crucial role informal education opportunities play in bringing studies to life for Texas students.
February ’99: Attended the Partners in Education Conference held in Austin. Networked with North Texas Area school officials, informing them about the totally unique education opportunities.
January ’99: “Attended annual Texas Aquarium & Zoo Educator‘s meeting at Cameron Park Zoo in Waco. Networked with fellow educators about programs.
March ’98:  Attended Statewide Systemic Initiative (SSI) for Math & Science, focus group. Reviewed the Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills (TEKS) guidelines and discussed how informal educators like ourselves provide valuable experience outside of the classroom for both students and educators. 
June ’98:  Attended The Governor’s Conference for Math, Science & Technology in Austin. Discovered what education reform lies in the years ahead for Texas schools and how we may best serve students, by drawing a parallel between what is taught in the classroom and real life experiences. 
August ’98:  Attended Invertebrates in Captivity Conference. Networked with fellow educators as to what invertebrates are the best ambassadors for their species and how to properly care for them.

September ’98:  Attended American Zoo & Aquarium Association (AZA) conference in Tulsa, OK. Networked with fellow outreach educators.Also met with Texas Aquarium & Zoo Educators (TAZE) group while in Tulsa.

Presented a paper to fellow zoo professionals about various behavioral enrichment techniques for captive animals at the Association of Zookeepers (AZK) conference in Indianapolis, IN.

Attended Social Studies Conference in Dallas to discuss with educators how animals provide a valuable tool for bringing various social studies and geography units to life.

October ’98:  Guests speaker at American Association of University Women’s (AAUW): Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) Conference at UTD campus in Dallas. Promoting the importance of math and science studies to junior high school girls.

Brenna Kleven aka CritterWoman

I am the only Child of Dave (The Critterman) and Sue (Safari Sue). I grew up around the animals, and loved going to programs with my parents. The way the audience connected with the animals and learned to care about them inspired me to follow in my parents footsteps.

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When I was old enough I went to the University Of North Texas Science Camps. At 14 I became apart of the Junior Zoo Crew at the Frank Buck Zoo in Gainesville Texas.

When I was going to college in Texas I was apart of the Summer Internship at the Frank Buck Zoo. After my first year of college I applied to go to school at the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo In Gainesville Florida, and got in. Through the program I got to work with native and exotic species of animals. Learning about stuff any where between caring for an animal as an individual, to teaching people about the animals at the zoo. After completing the program I received an Associate Degree In Zoo Animal Technology.

I then came back to Texas to apply what I learned to Safari Guides.

My Hobbies

Ever since I was little I loved to take pictures. As an Adult trying to capture behaviors of animals is my favorite. When I visit another animal facility for a day I can easily end up with over 10,000 photos. Since animals move around so much usually only 200 end up usable.

Our Philosophy

Animal Edutainment® Inc. / Critterman Safari Guides, is a private not-for-profit wildlife education organization of college-trained, professional, wildlife handlers and educators. Not affiliated with, or to be confused with any other animal acts or programs in the state of Texas.

Animal Edutainment’s primary concern as professional outreach educators that work with live Animal Ambassadors, is safety! We strongly caution anyone considering inviting an individual or group with animals (particularly big cats, primates, or large hoofstock) to their school, organization, home or event , check their permit status at www.aphis.usda.gov/ac or direct inquiries to [email protected] Please also require a copy of the company’s valid liability insurance. Remember just because the service is available, doesn’t guarantee it is safe or even legal. Safety is Animal Edutainment’s number one priority for our clientele. Please make it yours as well.

Our Mission

  • Reach as many people as possible, with our unique brand of professional live wildlife education programs. To clear-up misconceptions about and to foster a healthy respect / responsibility for all living creatures with which we share the planet.
  • To safely provide the public with unique, professional, wildlife education experience. To clearly extend the message that  wild and or exotic animals are not “pets”. Any animal that is capable of living in the wild, should live in the wild. And to share Why Zoos and Aqauriums Matter!
  • To provide the best quality of life to all of the Animal Ambassadors in our care. 

Why Edutainment?

Critterman® Safari Guides know that learning should be fun. You have to Touch the Heart to Teach the Mind!. We employ a number of teaching strategies to reach audiences of all different learning abilities. Educator resource materials available for all of our school programs.

Live Animal Ambassadors spark interest in learning. Children have a natural curiosity about other living things. This curiosity naturally leads to the exploration of science concepts and extends to include social studies, language arts and other disciplines. Every child needs to be provided with the opportunity to experience and learn about wildlife in order to help them develop an understanding of, and a healthy respect for the world around them.

With adults the ambassadors give them a chance to learn the truth about the animals. There is a lot of false and misleading information about animals, most of the time told to us as kids from adults in our childhood. Growing up learning something is no good, useless, or even vicious. This is what usually crates fear of animals. In truth all living creatures serve a purpose that can unknowingly affect our daily life.

Our Vision

That people of all ages are inspired to find a balance for all life on earth to coexist and prosper.

Professional Activities

Professional Memberships and Affiliations

References

“I would like to recommend the education programs that are very professionally presented by Animal Edutainment. This organization is dedicated to the preservation of our earth’s wildlife, and by teaching young people about our valuable resources, they hope to make the planet a better place to live. It’s organizations like Animal Edutainment who will provide the education for future generations. I highly recommend them for a program or presentation for your group.”

``Jungle`` Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus, Columbus Zoo

“My sincere thank you to you and your staff for providing animals for Peter Gros’ appearances. Because of individuals like you, we can educate the public about the importance of the natural world. We appreciate your help with these appearances and your dedication to wildlife. Thanks again and best wishes for continued success.”

Lisa Wadell, Mutual of Omaha

“Through their expert handling of the animals they develop awareness, knowledge, sensitivity, and appreciation for wildlife and the environment. Their husbandry techniques assure that the animals in their care enjoy the best that captivity can offer.”

Jim Dunlap, Plano ISD Living Materials Center

“Thank you so much for performing at our Animal Planet Rescue Expos. Thanks to your participation the events have been a major success!”

Candace O'Neal, Discovery Networks/Animal Planet

“I wanted to thank everyone at Animal Edutainment for participating in our Special Events. You are all fun to work with and have a professional presentation.  Great job and thank you again.

Randy Rogers, Town of Addison

“You made my son’s birthday party the best day of his life!!”

Katy H., Birthday Child’s Mom

“The kids & teachers really loved it!!  Not only did our students learn a lot about Rainforest animals, but they had a BLAST doing it!  My 1st grade son said you were “hilarious” & rattled off lots of facts this evening. Thanks for being a voice for all the endangered little guys out there!!

McKenna M., PTA Programs Chair