Al Borys from Thistle Hill Farm Petting Zoo hugs Angelwings, a pet Dorper lamb while Lindsay Mathes and her son Marcus look on. The petting zoo inside the Saskatchewan Building during the Colonial Days Fair had everything from a silkie chicken and bunnies, to a wallaby. GEOFF LEE LSS PHOTO
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
That was the type of question kids could ask at an educational petting zoo during the Colonial Days Fair, while befriending a variety of barnyard critters and exotic animals.
Lloydminster youngsters can keep in touch with their farm fair pals like Frankie the Nigerian dwarf miniature dairy goat and chickens by contacting Thistle Hill Farm Petting Zoo & Pony Rides near Edmonton, owned by Carol and Al Borys.
They operate a mobile petting zoo and live pony ride carousel, available for corporate and private events throughout Edmonton and the surrounding area.
“I don’t think most people live on a farm nowadays, and a lot of children aren’t exposed to different farm animals,” said Carol Borys, as to why they do it.
She said the kids that come to the fair or their mobile zoo get pretty excited to see the animals.
“It gives them a chance to come and interact and give them a hug; they’re all friendly,” she said.
Their mobile petting zoo can bring animals to barbecues, Christmas parties, school education programs, corporate and private events and fairs.
“We’ve got quite a collection; we like to share it with folks, and hope they enjoy them as much as we do,” said Borys.
“We’ve being doing this for 23 years now.”
The Borys stocked a pen in the Saskatchewan Building with kid-friendly animal pals, like Frankie the goat.
“We have all kinds of things to pet—different textures— bunnies, guinea pigs, quail you name it,” said Borys on the second last day of the fair.
“We try to focus on the more exotic side of the livestock, so we’ve got fancy poultry such as Polish.
“We’ve got silkies with naked neck chicken, which is unusual; it’s quite different looking.”
She said they also have some “nice Cochins” with lots of feathers on their legs.
The mix of petting animals included a Muscovy duck, some Dorper sheep and a wallaby.
“That’s our most exotic animal,” said Borys.
Borys said she and her husband like the old-fashioned flavour of Colonial Days Fair.
“You get to see the actual live animals, and there’s all kinds of things to walk around and observe,” she said.
The couple rotates animals including a large turkey in and out of the petting ring throughout the day, to give them a privacy break in their pens.
“When they’re out you’re free to pet anything, but we ask that people don’t pick them up because of the volume of people,” said Borys.
At Thistle Farm, the couple raises commercial sheep and they also have more goats and more rabbits.