A generous $1.4 million gift from State Farm Insurance to the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park guarantees that the Kids’ Farm exhibit will remain open for the next five years. The State Farm donation is the largest made to the Zoo since 2007.
Earlier this year the Zoo announced plans to close the Kids’ Farm for budget reasons. The decision was one of several identified to implement cost-saving measures at the Zoo and across the Smithsonian.
The Kids’ Farm opened in 2004 and costs approximately $250,000 to operate each year. When news of the closing became public, there was an overwhelming response from the community and Friends of the National Zoo members urging that the exhibit remain open. FONZ members organized fundraising events and launched additional efforts to find longer term funding.
At the July 20 ceremony announcing the new sponsor, Lucy, a Nigerian dwarf goat and long-time Kids’ Farm resident, unveiled the permanent donor sign on the side of the barn. Former Congressman Ralph Regula, who played a vital role in establishing the Kids’ Farm seven years ago, was on hand to offer his congratulations and talk about the importance of farms. In addition, a group of 16 FONZ campers and animal keepers led a parade of donkeys, alpacas, goats, rabbits and a chicken to the Caring Corral where participants met the animals up close.
Public Celebration Sunday, July 24
Families are invited to celebrate at the Kids’ Farm Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Several activities and special programming are planned, including: Fun with Fleece, which allows visitors to create a large felt wall hanging with alpaca fleece and Plant Pots, where children can plant seeds and take home the plant as a souvenir. Young visitors may also decorate various animal ears. Animal demonstrations will include cow washing, fish feeding and hog enrichment, and animal keepers will be on hand to talk to visitors of all ages. Cabot Creamery, Whole Foods Market, Upper Crust Pizzeria, Ben & Jerry’s, Firehook Bakery and Chipotle will provide free gifts.
The Kids’ Farm is home to various farm animals—cows, donkeys, goats, alpacas, hogs, a chicken, koi fish, catfish and rabbits. Several of the animals residing in the farm are rare breeds, including the San Clemente Island goats and Ossabaw Island hogs. The Kids’ Farm provides young children with an interactive learning experience. Designed for children ages 3 to 8, the exhibit provides many urban and suburban children their first experience with animals while learning about where food comes from. Children have the opportunity to groom the animals under the supervision of keepers in the Caring Corral and are able to touch animals in various locations throughout the exhibit. The State Farm gift will cover the salaries for three full-time animal keepers over a seven-day work week, animal feed, bedding materials, medical care and tests, habitat maintenance and general operating supplies.
Posted: 21 July 2011