Here in Israel, there are zoos, petting zoos and “animal corners” everywhere. Every self-respecting kibbutz, moshav and school has one. Some, like ours, are small and modest, but some also have big farm animals and even branch out into wild animals.
Our neighbouring kibbutz, Givat Brenner, has one of those bigger, “fancier” pet zoos. They charge for entrance and organise school outings, birthday parties and other activities. One of my youngest son’s classmates had her birthday party there. Great excitement, probably for as much for me as for my son and the birthday girl herself! 🙂
The manager of Brenner’s pet zoo gave me some animals when I was starting up two years ago. Her place is huge! They have a number of freeranging peafowl and guinea fowl, but everything else is in pens and cages, because of the predator problems they are having (mostly mongooses). The peas and guineas are free only because they can’t catch them 🙂 I breathed I sigh of relief that the mongooses don’t seem to have found us yet..!
The birthday party activities were really sweet. The guide told them that they were going to “help at the farm” and gave them all sorts of stuff to do. They loved it! These kids are 4-5 years old, so they can’t actually do much that really helps, but the “playing farm” thing was really nice. They groomed a donkey, fed the goats and raked the yard.
After work, it was time to play. They hugged a goat, petted rabbits and rode a donkey. I begged the guides to let me ride the donkey too, but they said I was too big 🙂
I love the rabbit petting corner! That’s a fantastic idea, to give them each a bunny in a little basket. The rabbit doesn’t get dropped, the kid doesn’t get scratched. They do escape out of their baskets from time to time, but they are in a fenced area so it does’t matter.
I loved the goats and especially the donkeys. There was a most adorable donkey foal that I would have taken home without hesitation. The manager actually offered to donate a goat or a donkey to my pet zoo! Sadly, the Sheep Story had taught us that our space is not suitable for anything bigger than a muscovy duck. Maybe in the future we will be able to build a stable and paddock. Oh how much fun that would be… And how much work!
I almost pocketed one of those adorable tortoises, but I think I’ll pass on the emus.
Brenner is a pretty nice pet zoo, but I was less than charmed by their small animal cages. The manager was very surprised to learn that we ate our chicken’s eggs, and I kind of understood when I saw the nest boxes of her chickens (and pigeons):
Ugh. That’s a definite fail there.
Those chickens are beautiful, but that pen is a bit sad. I’ve seen much worse though. It gets a pass.
Same goes for rabbit and guinea pig cage. It’s ok, but they didn’t go out of their way to make it nice for them. They went totally crazy for the blades of grass I poked through the holes in the fence. I don’t think they see much grass.
So, full marks for nice manager, kid-friendliness, entertaining birthday parties and interesting creatures. But I have to deduct points for the sad-looking small animal cages. Sorry Brenner!
The birthday party gave me an idea though! Seeing how much kids enjoyed being allowed to “help”, I decided to organise a big, everyone-is-welcome cleaning day in our pet zoo. That’s tomorrow. Update will follow, if it all goes more or less according to plan!