While seeing exotic animals behind the glass is a great way to get a glimpse into their natural behavior, nothing compares to being able to interact with the animals through a petting zoo. With a number of petting zoos in and around the Chicago area, families are able to feed and/or pet the animals. Giving children these types of experiences can help provide a better understanding of wildlife, and introduce them to farm animals they don’t get to see through city living. Check out some petting zoos that encourage mingling with the animals, and bring out your inner zookeeper.
3088 Flora Road
Belvidere, IL 61008
Traveling by car takes around an hour and a half, but it is worth the drive for families looking for an up-close and personal experience with the animals. As part of Summerfield Farm, the zoo is surrounded by beautiful landscaping. While the smaller size allows for a closer view of the animals, it doesn’t take away from the amount of different animals featured at the zoo. Everything from zebras to monkeys can be viewed at Summerfield Zoo, and the petting zoo and pony rides make the experience complete.
14245 W. Rockland Road
Libertyville, IL 60048
Lambs Farm is a non-profit organization that caters to enriching the lives of not just those with developmental disabilities, but also to all others in the community. While there are residential, educational and occupational services provided, there is also a great petting zoo for those looking for a more intimate setting for viewing wildlife. The Lambs Farm petting zoo has goats, sheep, rabbits, chicks and, of course, the infamous Bambino the cow and the 600-pound pig. Families visiting the zoo are invited to partake in the miniature train ride, miniature golf and old world carousel.
601 Dundee Ave.
East Dundee, IL 60118
With over 200 animals, birds and fish, there is something for everyone at Santa’s Village Azoosment Park. Old MacDonal’s Barn features animals that are not separated into pens. Instead, animals are free to mingle with visitors to pet and feed. The Pony-Go-Round exhibit is free with admission, and is a favorite with little ones wanting to ride a real pony rather than a carousel. For those looking for less furry animals to interact with, the Scales and Tails Reptile House has more exotic creatures. The koi pond has a bridge that allows visitors to feed them while in the pond, and the newest arrival of the baby wallabies is something that should not be missed during the visit.
Forest View Farms
16717 S. Lockwood Avenue
Tinley Park, IL 60477
Located in the Tinley Park suburb just outside of Chicago, Forest View Farms is a favorite with horse and riding enthusiasts. The petting zoo offered at Forest View Farms is just an added bonus to the riding trails and educational services offered at this venue. Guests are encouraged to pet the many farm animals featured in the petting zoo. Everything from a mini horse and mini burro to chickens and llamas are inside the petting area. For those looking to visit a petting zoo, and then stay around for some riding lessons, Forest View Farms can offer a whole new animal interaction experience to all who enter.
Lincoln Park Zoo
2001 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60614
Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo is a must-see venue for families with small children, and animal enthusiasts in general. The free admittance combined with the convenience of being in the city gives the Lincoln Park Zoo an advantage over other petting zoos and farms. The farm section inside of the zoo is also free to enter, and allows for interaction with the cows and goats. A zoo attendant is waiting with hay for you to feed the cows with, and the goats are always ready for a good petting.
Sara Lugardo is a professional writer out of Chicago, Illinois. She has a Bachelor’s in Communication and is currently working on her Master’s. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.