A rural Irish petting zoo

Leaving Athlone to drive east toward the ruins of Clonmacnoise, I passed a sign for a petting zoo nearby, and took the small road though the hills until I came to the zoo. Turns out it was closed for another hour, and I was told to come back later. When I explained that I was on my way east, and would not be returning, I was asked if I was alone. Yes, I was—so I was invited in, with the warning that a preschool would be arriving at any minute for a private tour, which I was welcomed to join.

Macaw–not exactly “the petting type”

Dwarf rabbits

Lambs eager for feed

Pygmy billy goat

I paid my admission, and was handed an ice cream cone full of grain to feed the animals—clearly the bait that all of the animals on exhibit were accustomed to seeing, and accustomed to stealing out of the hands of small children. I was not such a push-over, and kept my treats until on the way out, when I broadcast the grain to several of the animals.

Emus at play

Pygmy goat kid begging for grain

Newly hatched chicks

Dozens of Guinea pigs in a pen

Two puppies? (Not what I had expected to find here)

Pygmy goat kids

Mother Emu and her chicks

Emu chick

Meercat on the lookout–one of the exotics at the zoo

The zoo was a small one, with only a few animals that were different from the farm animals many of the preschoolers were accustomed to seeing at home, but the excitement of being on the bus, and going to the petting farm made that immaterial to their happy field trip. While I joined in a small bit of their tour, I realized that I was probably not that welcome by the teachers, who didn’t know me, around their small children. I shuffled on to my next destination, but was glad to have supported the small zoo with my admission fee.

Resting donkey

Scottish Highland bull

Red deer buck, the only native Irish deer species

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