Sherry’s voice brought me back to the present, “We need to clear all the indoor stalls before we move on to the outdoor patio. Clear everything on the floor—trash, hay, everything. We will scrub and rinse them with water before putting the animals back in,” she explains. This is almost the same routine as the monkey house, just a different environment.
The floors are cement so cleaning is pretty easy – a lot easier than in the days when I cleaned the stables. I like to go to each stall, tidy up and clean, and then move on to the next. It gives me a nice sense of accomplishment, and I get to visit the animals sunbathing on the other side of their half-door.
The barn contained two donkeys, two sheep, a cow and its almost-adult calf (big enough to have its own barn), four goats, and two giant pigs named Laverne and Shirley.
There are also birds outside in the enclosures in the vicinity. There are two wild chickens that look like exotic and colorful chickens from the tropics, and they probably are. A male and female turkey also share the same pen. At the back of the shed was a compartment full of eggs being hatched. One day soon, they will hatch into chicks. A tough reminder of their fate.
Once the stalls had been cleared, scrubbed and sprayed, we used a rubber broom to wipe the water off the floor before adding a new layer of hay. Then we filled their feeders and put the animals back inside. Like monkeys, they return indoors easily knowing food awaits them.
While they were eating indoors, we scratched and cleaned their outdoor stalls, then half-opened the doors so they could come in and out as they liked. Zoogoers can see them by entering the public area inside the enclosure or walking to the fence that surrounds their outdoor enclosure.
After cleaning the indoor and outdoor barns, we moved to the barn yard. This area is called the pet zoo. People are allowed to touch and feed the animals, as long as the food comes from one of the feeders attached to the fence. You can insert a few quarters and get some cereal. However, unlike most “pet zoos”, visitors are not allowed inside with the animals so this was my first time entering the fenced enclosure.
And this is the first time, aside from the duck pond, I’ve actually been tasked with cleaning up an area while the animals are still in it. All the other times, the animals were moved back and forth so whatever yard, cage or cage I was cleaning was empty at the time.
We moved with us some of the animals in the barn to the yard, including Marmalade, the mother cow, and her son, Rocky. Rocky is quite beautiful with silky smooth hair and big, round deer-like eyes with thick and long eyelashes. He likes to follow me everywhere and his attention worries me – he’s young, but big and feisty. Most of the time he just wants to scratch a little behind his ears or around his short horns. I’ll scratch a little, pet Rocky, and scratch again. He never seems to have enough. I’ll give him a few scratches and then move on, just for him to follow me a few more times. Rocky is one of the reasons I finally stopped eating hamburgers. When you have an adorable lug like him
Following you around like a puppy, it’s hard to imagine eating him.
When we finished building the barn, the guests arrived. The zoo is open and it’s time for our first break. I find my favorite stump behind the kitchen and smoke a cigarette by myself. Sherry is not a smoker and has gone into the kitchen, presumably to snack or chat with her fellow housekeepers.
Our next task is to take care of the smaller pets on our line. This is a mix of guinea pigs and rabbits as well as larger materials, and they are not seen by the public but are kept in an area behind the kitchen and building known as the EB. Sherry tasked me with cleaning the animal enclosures while she worked on the small fenced grazing yard that is now home to two llamas used as docile animals.
Dealing with guinea pigs and rabbits is bittersweet because I know that at least some of them will become food for other zoo animals. I stare at their adorable little faces, and gently touch their furry little bodies as I move them to the trash to clean the house, and my heart breaks to know the secret. secret about their future. I envy other volunteers who have not been exposed to the true purpose of their short lives.
here behind the zoo.