In Loudoun, we have a few petting zoos including two that are rather popular. Since I live in Leesburg, my family frequents the one here just outside of town, Leesburg Animal Park. It's about 10 minutes from my home.
There, the you can see monkeys, huge tortoises, goats, emus, a camel, donkeys, bison and a other exotic creatures. Last year, they were temporarily
housing white tigers for the national zoo, drawing a lot of press.
My family frequently visits at Easter, and nearly all locals attend "Fort Pumpkin" (a Halloween themed event) in the fall; we've even had my daughter's birthday party there. Our most recent visit was with our Daisy troop; a group of 5-7 year old girls; who were spending through their "cookie money" (funds earned by selling Girl Scout cookies this year), and throwing themselves an end of year bash.
The girls got to see, feed, hold and pet an assortment of strange and exotic animals, picnic, play on the playground, and go on a wagon ride. For the girls, the highlights of our visits were the lorikeet encounter and the pony rides. Every little girl loves a pony ride.
We visited during low attendance days on purpose and kept our party brief, but weekends often feature special events like the fishing derby; and camel rides are offered Fridays-Sundays. Leesburg Animal Park does offer birthday party packages on site, and group rates, as well as "Zoo to You" and "Learning Safari" programs, where they will bring the animals to your event or school. For more information, visit: http://www.leesburganimalpark.com/
This animal park used to be much larger and was located in Reston, but due to disputes with the landowner, they were forced to downsize and move. A couple decades ago, I worked at that parkfor a summer. I have wonderfully entertaining stories about the jealous elephant who cried REAL tears, and tried to attack me for dating her trainer; the time I was attacked by the white handed gibbon (a small ape), who was ironically named Fannie Mae (ironic to me now since I am a real estate agent, and in some ways I feel like Fannie Mae has attacked me recently, too!); the time I helped to amputate a fallow deer's leg to free her from rocks; the times we had to bottle feed a lion cub, who greatly enjoyed snuggling just like any domestic cat; and the list goes on....Tough, dirty, exhausting job. Great stories. If we end up getting to know each other well, ask me about them. I love having unique experiences to share; and I am so glad I worked there that summer.
To read more highlights and stories about Living In Loudoun County, visit: www.LivingInLoCo.blogspot.com