On a bright Florida morning, goats Lilly and Violet were sprawled in the Zoo area formerly know as The Petting Zone. Thanks to a marked pathway in what’s now known as The Barnyard, Lilly had just her back end available for pets and scratches from Zoo guests—a more comfortable option for her.
“The Barnyard” has undergone more than a name change. The new layout reflects the Zoo’s commitment to animal wellness by encouraging Barnyard residents to choose how they’d like to spend their day.
The new rope pathway allows Barnyard residents to have greater control over when and how to interact with guests. The area’s alpacas, chickens, goats and African spurred tortoise can stay away from the pathway if they need a break—or join guests for a pet or scratch.
New messaging for children in The Barnyard also focuses on respecting the resident’s boundaries.
“We have been able to observe the individual animal preferences for guest interaction with certain individuals choosing to interact more than others and some individuals choosing not to interact,” said Megan Stankiewicz, Animal Ambassador Manager. “Clarabelle, our senior female pygmy goat, has even been observed laying with just her rear end on the path—her preferred place for scratches being just above her tail!”
Whether or not an animal is prone to interacting with guests can’t be generalized to a species or a breed, Stankiewicz said. It’s more of an individual preference.
“Some of them seem to like to stand just on the other side of the ropes to allow guests to pet them in a way they feel they can walk away at any time,” Stankiewicz said.
Some of the residents are still getting used to the new format. Lilly the Nubian goat has been known to swing her head at things around her—a natural goat behavior, but an uncomfortable one if you’re on the receiving end. A staff member stands with her on the pathway to facilitate any interactions.
“She is learning that she now has more choice over her environment and can walk away, and we are now regularly observing her choosing this option,” Stankiewicz said.
Brevard Zoo is an independent, not-for-profit organization that receives no recurring government funding for our operating costs. Your generous support enables us to continue to serve our community and continue our vital animal wellness, education and conservation programs.