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Animal Gardens Petting Zoo Birdsandbats' Animal Gardens Petting Zoo Review

Discussion in 'United States' started by birdsandbats, 11 Jun 2018.

  1. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

    17 Sep 2017
    Animal Gardens Petting Zoo Things to do in Lake Geneva, WI | What to do in Chicago, IL : The Dancing Horses Theatre

    Date of visit: June 9 2018

    Animal Gardens Petting Zoo is a 40-acre non-AZA zoological facility located in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. It originally opened as The Dancing Horses Theater, the rest of the zoo was added on later.

    Animal Gardens Petting Zoo has no formal entrance. After driving between two statues of dancing horses, one parks in the parking lot. The parking lot is at the back of the Baby Barn, and is decorated with cartoon animals that look a little too happy (including two owls, which AGPZ doesn't even keep!) Next to the parking lot in a lawn infested with picnic benches. Despite the business of the zoo on the day we went, I only saw one person use them.
    The first exhibit seen is a grassy paddock for a pair of Zebu. This exhibit is right up against the road, and the Zebu can be seen before even entering.
    In order to pay to get in, you must walk along the path a considerable way into the zoo. Along the way, several exhibits can be seen, and the one for Emu is right up against the path! The admission/tickets are purchased in the Horse Theater (more on that later).
    You can't just buy admission to Animal Gardens Petting Zoo. You buy admission in packages, and each package includes admission plus something(s) else. Choices include the Exotic Bird Show, Dancing Horses Show, Baby Animal Show, a train ride along the Wilderness Trail, pony rides, bird feed sticks, deer feed cones, boat rides, camel rides, Behind-The-Scenes Tour, and one other ride that I can't remember. The idea is that you get it all and transition between all these things, therefore creating a steady flow of traffic. But you don't have to get them all. I chose the Exotic Bird Show, the Dancing Horses Show, and the train ride. I will be covering all those things in my review.

    Baby Barn
    In order to reach the Baby Barn, you have to backtrack along the path a little. The Baby Barn is reached via a path behind the Emu exhibit.
    The Baby Barn is misnamed. While it certainly does contain Baby Animals, it contains plenty of adults too. Entering the Baby Barn, it looks just like a regular barn. Two keepers/interns were walking around with Animal Ambassadors. The first exhibit seen is a cage on the floor for a Long-Tailed Chinchilla. The exhibit is easy to miss, being on the floor. Above the chinchilla, two terrarium- type things can be seen in the wall. One contained Domestic Chicken pullets. The other contained a single Domestic Rabbit.
    Along the left side of the barn are three separate exhibits for Striped Skunk. They are barren, except for one hide each. Fortunately, a sign says that the small animals exhibits are currently in the process of being renovated. I assume the skunks are included, and that's why their exhibits are like that.
    Along the right side of the barn are three exhibits for arboreal animals. Each one is very hard to view (the glass quality makes it difficult), but each one is filled with plenty of climbing branches and is great for each species. The first one contains a Tufted Capuchin. The second one contains an albino Northern Raccoon (one of the Animal Ambassadors was a baby raccoon, I assume it also lives here). The final arboreal animal exhibit is one for a pair of Ring-Tailed Lemurs.
    In the middle of the path is an exhibit for a pair of opossums. Now, I am no expert of marsupials, but they appear to be Common Opossums. I will post photos for identification.
    The Baby Barn contains three indoor walk-through exhibits. The first is right near the entrance to the barn. It's the classic feed the Budgerigar aviary. However, the parakeets acted differently than their species usually does in areas like this one. While the birds weren't scared of people, they didn't mass around them like a killer blob. They just sort of sat there. The next walk-through was for kittens. I kid you not. It was like a mini cat cafe, but without drinks. The kittens were super friendly. Animal Gardens Petting Zoo runs an adoption program, I believe these cats are part of it. The final indoor walk-through can only be accessed from inside the kitten area. This is a walk-through for Domestic Rabbits. Yeah, I don't get it either.
    There are two more exhibits left inside the baby barn. One is slightly smaller than the skunk exhibits and contains a pair of Domestic Pigs. The second is an indoor exhibit for Bennett's Wallabies. It is very small for the three wallabies they have, I hope the zoo winters them elsewhere.
    But the Baby Barn isn't done yet. There is an outdoor section. The entire outdoor area of the Baby Barn is a walk-through for domestic species (Goat, Donkey, Llama, Cow) and still contains exhibits inside it.
    The first of these exhibits are the outdoor areas for the arboreal animals. These are very disappointing. The one for the monkey and the one for the lemurs are a good size (if a little on the small side), but the roof lets in almost no light. The only light was around the edges. The raccoons had light in their outdoor exhibit, but it was very small.
    The next of these exhibits was for a pair of Patagonian Cavies. This exhibits was relatively large and open, but still included hides and shade. It was the largest exhibit I have seen for this species. The next one was confusing. It was a large chicken run with a smaller coop inside it. The sign said "African Crested Porcupine", but all I saw in it was (surprise!) a Chicken. Giving the presence of the porcupines on the Wilderness Trail (more on that later), I think the porcupines are no longer found here. The third exhibit was a very weird mixed species exhibit. Sulcata Tortoise and Capybara. My best way to describe it is "average". The next one is the outdoor area for the Bennett's Wallabies. Compared to the indoor area, it is great. Large and open with one or two hides.
    In the center of all of this is a MASSIVE aviary for a flock of Indian Peafowl. The inside is completely open, but the grass is tall. A peacock could be sitting in the center and you might not see it. Across the top is a giant roost bar. The peafowl even have an off-exhibit area. But the irony in all this? Other peafowl freely roam the zoo grounds. :p Other animals that free roam are Domestic Chickens and Domestic Mallards.

    Exotic Bird Show
    The bird show was interesting. The show featured 3 macaws, 2 cockatoos, and an amazon. The birds did very cool tricks, like riding a bicycle, playing games, and roller skating.
    But the star of the show was Echo the Yellow-Headed Amazon. He sings three different songs and speaks over 140 words. He has been featured on two different TV shows and a Volkswagen commercial. He will also be on "America's Got Talent" this summer.

    Wilderness Trail
    The Wilderness Trail is only accessible by train. Most of the enclosures here were very basic and average. Each one of these animals had access to off-exhibit areas, and because of this, most were not seen. Animals in exhibits like these were Red Foxes, Bobcats (recently had kittens), Canada Lynxes, Golden Pheasants, Northern Raccoons, Woodchucks, Striped Skunks, African Crested Porcupines, and a single South American Coati. There were also lots of empty exhibits here. The keeper/intern driving the train said that the lynxes were part of a breeding program. Does anyone know what breeding program this is?
    But the star of the Wilderness Trail is the White-Tailed Deer exhibit. The train stops here, and can you guess what is special about it? If you guessed "another walk-through" you were correct! This exhibits is all forested, and massive. You can purchase ice cream cones with with birdseed inside them to feed the deer if you like. But even if you don't have food, the deer will come right up to you, which makes for amazing pictures.
    But the wilderness trail isn't done yet. The last exhibit is a large paddock for a Domestic Donkey.

    Indian Village
    This complex is easy to miss. It is past the Baby Barn, and I only found it because I was desperately looking for more animals (I always hate it when you are done with a zoo for the day). Well, the first three exhibits are obvious. But the rest kind of fade into the background.
    The first obvious one is a pony ride thingy. There were no outdoor pony rides at the time I went (due to humidity), but there were still ponies there. There was also a large pond that had two Mute Swans and a Domestic Mallard. This is where the boat rides are. Unfortunately, because of this, the water has those blue chemicals in it that they use on mini-golf courses. The final one was obvious only because it can be seen from the Baby Barn. The sign says "Dromedary Camel" but all I saw were two Domestic Turkey toms. Maybe the camel was in his barn playing Fortnite. :p
    The first of the less obvious enclosures surprised me. It contains two Gray Wolves, the zoo's only large predators. It was a very open area, with no natural shade, but the wolves had a barn and a den for shade. The next one was a paddock and a barn for a goat. The next one was very impressive. A colossal open paddock for Domestic Horses. Equines are treated like royalty here at AGPZ.
    After continuing down the path, you find the thing the complex is named for, a replica Native American village. Whoever made it did a good job, it was easy to image I had gone back in time. There weren't even any invasive plants around. A paddock of Horses can be seen from the village, but I don't know if they belong to the zoo or a nearby farmer.

    The Dancing Horses Theater
    Impressive. The show reminded me of a circus act. The trainer(s) and the horse(s) came out in costume and performed an act coordinated with music. The show was themed around a child's imagination. Each horse was dressed up like something from a young child might imagine, like a carousel horse coming to life, a fire horse, or a motorcycle horse. Each act was different. Some were liberty. Other had the trainer(s) riding the horse(s). In two of them, the horse wasn't even a major part. Those two in particular were trapeze acts. A trapeze act was the last thing I ever expected to see at a zoo.
    There was also an intermission so you could go get snacks. I only mention this because there was a kennel of kittens in the lobby.
    The final two acts were tributes. One of these was for Baskin Robbins, the first horse TDHT ever got. The second was to American veterans. It was more of a water show than a horse show, but at the end riders came out on horses with flags and they played "God Bless America".

    All the indoor exhibits had music playing. While I feel that the music at the Exotic Bird Show and Dancing Horse Theater were chosen well, I didn't like the music in the Baby Barn. In the Baby Barn, there were playing music from Disney movies. While I have nothing against music from Beauty and the Beast or Moana, did they really have to play music from Frozen? I can't stand that movie!

    Conservation Efforts
    There three donation boxes around the zoo. Each one is donated to a different organization. One of these is in the Exotic Bird Show building. Money put into this box is donated to help save endangered birds. Money donated in the Dancing Horse Theater goes to the Hoofed Animal Rescue Center, which cares for abused horses. Any money donated in the Baby Barn goes toward the zoo's kitten adoption program.


    Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by Animal Gardens Petting Zoo. The horse show was amazing, and they had a nice collection of animals. If you like horse shows, this facility is well worth traveling a few hours to get to. If you are not into horse shows, Animal Gardens Petting Zoo is great to visit if you are in the area and have some time to kill.


    List of animals at Animal Gardens Petting Zoo:
    Mammals (25 species)
    unidentified opossum
    Bennett's Wallaby
    Ring-Tailed Lemur
    Tufted Capuchin
    African Crested Porcupine
    Patagonian Cavy
    Long-Tailed Chinchilla
    Domestic Rabbit
    Domestic Pig
    White-Tailed Deer
    Domestic Cow
    Domestic Horse
    Domestic Donkey
    Canada Lynx
    Domestic Cat
    Gray Wolf
    Red Fox
    Striped Skunk
    Northern Raccoon
    South American Coati
    Birds (15 species)
    Domestic Chicken
    Golden Pheasant
    Indian Peafowl
    Domestic Turkey
    Mute Swan
    Domestic Mallard
    Umbrella Cockatoo
    Blue-And-Yellow Macaw
    Military Macaw
    Blue-And-Yellow Macaw x Scarlet Macaw (hybrid)
    Military Macaw x Scarlet Macaw (hybrid)
    Green-Winged Macaw (behind-the-scenes)
    Yellow-Headed Amazon
    Reptiles (1 species)
    Sulcata Tortoise
    Amphibians (0 species)
    Fishes (0 species)
    Inverts (0 species)

    Total species count: 41

    Wild species seen/heard at the zoo:
    Eastern Gray Squirrel
    White-Tailed Deer
    Canada Goose
    Red-Tailed Hawk
    Blue Jay
    Tufted Titmouse
    Northern Rough-Winged Swallow
    Barn Swallow (nesting in the indoor wallaby exhibit)
    Cedar Waxwing
    House Wren
    American Robin
    House Sparrow
    Red-Winged Blackbird
    Eastern Meadowlark
    Brown-Headed Cowbird
    Northern Cardinal
    Mourning Cloak


    (I have decided to give all the zoos I review silly awards)

    Best Human Trapeze in a Zoo

    Most Agitated Monkey
    A capuchin was screaming because he didn't have a treat.

    Most Picnic Benches in a Small Area

    Most Ironic Peafowl Enclosure

    Cutest Walk-Through Enclosure

    Most Feathers on a Porcupine
    Milwaukee Man likes this.
  2. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

    17 Sep 2017
    There's been a problem uploading the pictures. I will get them on there, but it might be a little while.
  3. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

    17 Sep 2017
    I am going to mention @snowleopard here. He is visiting this summer and may be interested in this review.
    snowleopard likes this.
  4. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

    17 Sep 2017
    The pictures have been uploaded! Sorry for the wait.
  5. geomorph

    geomorph Well-Known Member Premium Member

    28 May 2009
    Newport Beach, CA, USA
    What a cruel way to treat snacks during an intermission! :eek:
    birdsandbats and Hyak_II like this.
  6. geomorph

    geomorph Well-Known Member Premium Member

    28 May 2009
    Newport Beach, CA, USA
    The awards are a fun idea and reiterate some of the points of your well presented review!