The Times West Virginian

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June 19, 2014

Petting zoo offers ‘total freedom’

Great American to visit Shop ’n Saves in Mannington, Clarksburg

FAIRMONT — Wallabies, silky chickens and miniature ducks — oh my!

The Great American Petting Zoo will travel to the Clarksburg Shop ’n Save on June 25 and then to the Mannington Shop ’n Save on June 26 to warm the hearts of families in Marion and Harrison counties.

“What separates them from other petting zoos, to a large degree, is the quality and safety and the friendliness of their animals in that kids of all ages can go into the petting zoo with total freedom to cuddle, pet and feed these unique animals,” said Bob Corey, zoo coordinator.

Once inside the enclosure, there are no pens or barriers. Animals run around freely and visit guests.

The nearly 30 different species of animals are hand-raised at a farm in Oregon, where the zoo originated in 1983, so each one is friendly, Corey said.

“All of the breeds are very unique — different types of miniature goats, you have a pot-bellied pig, a miniature donkey, you have a very cuddly and huggable alpaca, and you have a very lovable hug-worthy llama,” he said.

Jamieson Family Markets, the owners of the Shop ’n Save locations, coordinated with Corey to book the zoo.

Admission is free with any purchase, and the stores have been giving out admission tickets to customers for two weeks.

The zoo’s West Virginia tour dates are the only ones east of the Mississippi River, and it first traveled to Charleston. Every year, the zoo has branched out from there, said Corey.

He reported that more than 1 million West Virginians have gone through the zoo since its start.

“In Clarksburg and Mannington, they’re looking at probably 3,000 to 4,000 people per location,” Corey said.

The event is a great place to build family memories, he said, because of the zoo’s friendly staff and clean, safe environment.

“When you see a 1-year-old or a 2-year-old toddler come nose to nose with a miniature goat and they nuzzle ... you wouldn’t believe how many pictures are taken by people who attend the zoo. ... It’s a fascinating experience for parents, for children, for grandparents. It’s a very special event. Very warm and fuzzy. Very clean and wholesome, in a world full of negative stuff.”

The zoo will be open from noon to 7 p.m. at both locations, and stores are still giving out admission tickets.

For more information about the Great American Petting Zoo, visit greatamericanpettingzoo.com.

Email Chelsi Baker at cbaker@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @cbakerTWV.

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