When’s the last time you saw a baby porcupine? Hugged a hog? Fed a sheep? Shot a corn cannon? Watched a llama spit? Observed a Sulcata Tortoise at home?
If none of these activities sound familiar to you, that’s because you’ve never been to the Gentle Zoo.
The Gentle Zoo is a ten acre farm located just north of I-20 in Forney. Now, before you decide that’s too far to drive, get out your GPS! You’d be surprised to know that Forney is actually a lot closer to downtown Dallas than the Ikea in Frisco or all the fun in Grapevine! In fact, the Gentle Zoo is located just 25 miles east of Dallas. And, if you have children under the age of 6…the little drive is completely worth it!
This place is kind of like a petting zoo on steroids. They’ve got a lot of different animals. All are fairly unique, although you can see your run of the mill farm animals (horse, sheep, pig, cows, and chickens), too. They take in a lot of interesting rescue animals, and many have their own stories. You can feed (for a small fee) and pet many of the not-so-wild ones and the staff is full of information about each animal. Educational opportunities abound!
In addition to the animals, they have a lot of other fun things to do. They have a huge playground. Honestly, it kind of looks like a bunch of random playground toys that have been accumulated through the years (or decades even). It’s definitely not fancy–it’s farm-like. But, my children L-O-V-E it. They have a gigantic sand box, a picnic area, and a kid-sized maze. They have a great tractor-pulled “train” that takes a little tour around the farm. And, they have corn cannons to shoot (husbands apparently enjoy this as much (okay, maybe more) then the kiddos).
Plus, they also have a bounce house. A little out of place on a farm? Maybe. But, my kids didn’t seem to mind one bit!
This place is a, say it with me, NAP GENERATOR!
I’m not a farm girl. I’ll be honest. I’m much more comfortable in a mall then out with the animals. The first time I went I was wishing I had brought more hand sanitizer (although they do have a washing station and sanitizer set up). I had to shower the second I got home. I drove into the parking lot that first time and wasn’t all that impressed.
But, and this is a HUGE but, my children absolutely love this place. And, for us, it’s a much better value then trying to go to the zoo. When you have several kids who still need a nap or two a day, paying for and then trying to spend a full day at the regular zoo is really just too much. It only costs $5 a person to get in and I’ve noticed if you get on their mailing list, they sometimes run specials or promotions on that bargain price.
In about 2 hours you can do everything you need to do at the Gentle Zoo. My favorite way to do it is to arrive about 2 hours before lunchtime, enjoy the activities, and then have a picnic there before heading home. They have adult sized and kid sized picnic tables there — perfect for you and a few friends to do a joint outing or even for your whole play group to spend some time there.
I was just on the Gentle Zoo Facebook page and noticed they just had an Easter egg hunt. They do other events at different times of the year, too. I always go for the Fall pumpkin patch (fantastic photo ops!) and they do something at Christmas, too. You can see pictures of some of the animals and read all about their special events, and other services they offer at www.gentlezoo.com. You can also go there to find directions and their operating hours.
If you are looking for something different to do, hurry and get out to the Gentle Zoo before it’s 107 degrees outside! Dress like you are going to a farm. You might get a little dirty. But, take your camera, and when you leave, I promise you, your children will be begging you to go back.
**The Gentle Zoo didn’t pay me for this post. But, if they’d like to send me some free tickets, I’ve got at least three children that would be thrilled to take them.