Jeff Green | Jun 04, 2014
5 years ago when Barry and Donna Smith opened the Land O'Lakes petting zoo on Road 506 near Cloyne, they were hoping they would bring in enough revenue through admissions to pay for feed and vet bills for the rescue animals that had come to live with them over time.
Rescuing animals, and taking them in when others were no longer able to care for them is an extension of the foster parenting that Barry and Donna have done, and the animals have been helpful in some of the healing processes for their foster children.
The zoo is a menagerie of 40 animals, including a 2,800 pound tame Holstein bull named McMoo, lambs, goats, sheep, peacocks, llamas, donkeys, miniature horses and a full size horse, ponies, ducks, rabbits, turkeys etc., each with a story attached to their acquisition.
Although the Smiths had hoped to bring in the $30,000 it costs each year to keep the not-for-profit zoo up and running, there has historically been a shortfall, up to $20,000, and the Smiths have had to cover that from their other income.
That is not longer a viable option, and they are now looking to the public for support, either through cash donations or in-kind support in the form of animal feed or discounted veterinary services.
They did open a snack bar, and Donna has been baking treats for sale at the snack bar and at some of the local campgrounds to bring extra money in, but the costs are not being covered.
“Even if more people would like to come to visit and put a little extra in the jar it would be helpful,” she said.
Her fear is that if they cannot keep the zoo open, it will be very difficult to find suitable homes for the animals.
“We are getting into a serious problem, and I don't quite know what the solution is,” she said.
The hope is ha the summer will be a good one, with lots of visitors and an unflux of community support.
Otherwise, the Smiths will be forced to consider disbanding their operation come the fall.