Farmer Ruth and Bumper, the sheep, are shown at the farm just outside of Winchester Springs, waiting for the spring shearing to begin. Thompson Goddard Photo

A unique experience at Vanderlannd The Barnyard Zoo

WINCHESTER SPRINGS – A few minutes drive outside of Winchester Springs, is a zoo of a different kind. The family attraction provides the opportunity to see animals, learn about them and for the younger guests there are play areas for them to enjoy.

“A pack of llamas, guinea pigs, all kinds of poultry, pot bellied pigs” can be found at Vanderlaand The Barnyard Zoo commented Ruth Vanderlaan, who with husband Tony run the farm and its star attractions, the animals who call it home. Ruth commented that donkeys, goats, and sheep complete the menagerie at the farm where guests can pet and feed the animals when visiting.

The Barnyard Zoo began approximately 14 seasons ago when the Vanderlaan children had the idea for a zoo containing farm animals; then Ruth and Tony made it a reality. Ruth continued how their children have now grown up and left the farm, but the zoo continues to provide people of all ages a chance to enjoy the outdoors and the animals.

She mentioned how in addition to local visitors, the site is now visited by people from London, Ontario, Toronto, Montreal, Kingston, and other communities, with it becoming a destination location for tourists. While chatting with visitors, Ruth learned they would google “things to do outside with animals” when planning their visit to the area and would learn about the Barnyard Zoo in that manner.

In addition to visitors seeing, petting, and feeding the animals, there are opportunities to arrange group visits, private visits where the smaller animals can be held as well as birthday parties. She noted how private tours can be booked for a non-holiday Monday. The farm is closed on Tuesdays. Ruth continued how when open during the pandemic, people would book private tours “because they just didn’t want to be around other people” as well as getting a better experience and education about the animals.

Special events are becoming part of The Barnyard Zoo experience. Ruth mentioned they held one this past Easter, as they were open all four days and had many people visit. There is an upcoming sheep shearing event which will provide visitors a chance to experience sheep losing their heavy winter coats while enjoying a unique outdoor experience.

For several years, the business provided people a chance to see and pet the animals at local events, but Ruth mentioned how responsibilities at the farm have lowered the number of occasions they are able to attend. However, Vanderlaand The Barnyard Zoo will be attending events such as Canada Day in South Mountain and the Mayor’s Festival in Ottawa.

More information on Vanderlaand The Barnyard Zoo can be found on their social media pages or website.

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