Catherine Verdier lives in Norfolk with her husband and daughter. She blogs about kid-friendly living in Hampton Roads at Where the Watermelons Grow.
Baby A. and I are big fans of petting zoos. We can't resist them. There's something really great about getting up close and personal with the animals you usually see only in books or on TV, being able to interact with them and observe firsthand how they eat and sleep and play and feel.
We have an unspoken goal to visit as many petting zoos in the area as we can, and last week, the Peninsula SPCA Petting Zoo in Newport News came up on our list. So we bundled up and set off to meet some new animal friends.
The petting zoo is located at the back of the main SPCA building, in a tidy little barnyard dotted with picnic tables. In the main area, we met some bustling chickens, goats, sheep, and a very friendly llama who was all too happy to submit to our attentions (have you ever touched a llama? So soft!).
In the barn, we used the quarters provided by the front desk staff to buy pellets from the machines and watch the pea fowl, rabbits and turkeys gather around for a snack.
And then, best of all, we visited the exotic animals who have found sanctuary at the SPCA. The famous Siberian tiger, Lily, passed away a couple of years ago, but her friends, the black leopard and bobcat, are still in residence.
A. and I watched them for a long time -- you haven't lived until you've seen a powerful jaguar roll around and play like a tiny housecat, tossing hay in the air with his paws and trying to catch it on the way down. His purr was so loud we felt like we could feel it all the way on the other side of the fence (and his spotted coat was beautiful).
We could have stayed at the zoo for hours, but because it was frosty, we went in to visit with the cuddly cats and dogs who are waiting to be adopted. The volunteers were nice enough to let us take a few cats into the play rooms for a while and give them some attention, and A. had a good time practicing her best woofs with the dogs in their kennels.
The SPCA petting zoo is a great bargain -- admission is only $2 for adults and $1 for children over 2 (under 2s are free). This year, I've resolved to make sure that more of my money goes to support causes I believe in, so it felt especially good to learn that 100% of the admission price goes to the care and feeding of the animals. We'll definitely be back (and we'll wear our best boots next time -- the barnyard can get pretty muddy.)
Click HERE for more info about how to support the Peninsula SPCA's Petting Zoo and about having your kids' next birthday party there (such a cool idea!)
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Tags: Where The Watermelons Grow The Peninsula SPCA
Category: Guest Post