Last week, we kicked off the Battle of the Zoos with a strong contender, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. This week’s “zoo” is much smaller, but provides a unique opportunity to get a closer look at a wide array of animals. How does it fare against our rubric?
Please welcome Babby Farms, located in Caldwell, Idaho.
Variety of Animals
For such a small facility, Babby Farms has an impressive array of animals. Most of the property is dedicated to the petting zoo area, which houses a yak, a pig, a capybara, a Patagonian Cavy, deer, ponies, llamas, donkeys, camels, goats, and a zebra. The exotic animal section includes some unexpected delights, including otters, kangaroos, coatis, bobcats, servals, a binturong, a sloth, an anteater, lemurs, a Capuchin monkey, and more.
Most of the animals in the petting farm area can be fed, and that makes for a lot of funny faces as they all beg for your treats. I was highly amused.
Enclosures and Living Conditions
I did find the enclosures at Babby Farms a bit concerning. While the petting zoo animals had a lot of space, the exotic animals were housed in smaller cages. There were very few enrichment activities to encourage natural behavior, so most of the animals looked bored and lethargic. (To be perfectly fair, though, it was very hot that day. There was very little shade for the humans, but the animals all had lean-to’s or shade covers over parts of their cages.)
The otter enclosure was the best one at Babby Farms. The otters had rocks to climb on, a water slide, a pool, and toys to play with. I wish all of the enclosures had been as species-appropriate as this one was.
That said, the animals all looked healthy. The were well-fed, cages and enclosures were clean, and the staff we spoke to knew the animals well, so they’re clearly cared for.
As far as I can tell, Babby Farms doesn’t have a conservation component. However, as we’ll see in a moment, conservation is far outside the scope of their organization’s mission (and likely their budget). Farm animals and non-endangered species make up the bulk of their animal residents, but they do have a handful of threatened or critically endangered species.
There’s nothing quite like physical interaction with an animal to help build a mindset of compassion and appreciation for them. Babby Farms’ set up gives visitors a unique opportunity to do just that, and it’s a great way for kids to get close to animals.
However, there wasn’t much in the way of signage or exhibits. There’s a lot of underutilized potential for educational opportunities. They might have more educational opportunities than what we saw on our visit, but if they do, they’re not advertised.
The primary mission of Babby Farms is “to give children and adults with disabilities the opportunity to experience the joy of interacting with a wide range of animals” (official site)—a laudable goal indeed. In keeping with that mission, the entire property is wheelchair (or stroller) accessible, although the room where the sloth, binturong, and capuchin reside is a little crowded.
When not giving tours to groups that serve individuals with disabilities, Babby Farms is open to the public for a reasonable fee. At $8 for kids and $10.50 for adults, the admission prices are a lot easier to swallow than those at the Columbus Zoo, but you also get a lot less for your investment. We were able to see the whole facility in about 2-3 hours.
So how does Babby Farms fare against our rating system?
[line]Variety of Animals
(3 / 5)[/line]
[line]Enclosures and Living Conditions
(2 / 5)[/line]
(0 / 5)[/line]
(3 / 5)[/line]
(5 / 5)[/line]
[price comment=”Final Score”] (2.6 / 5)[/price]
Plan Your Visit
[pricing_column_name comment=”Caldwell, ID”]Babby Farms[/pricing_column_name]
Under 3: Free
Ages 4-11: $8.00
Ages 12-54: $10.50
Ages 55+: $7.50
Prices subject to change. Please see official site for current prices.
What’s the best zoo you’ve visited?
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Please note: The Jest Kept Secret Battle of the Zoos is not an actual competition. These are personal reviews written by me and presented in this format for entertainment and informational purposes only. I do not represent any of the zoos reviewed in the Battle of the Zoos series. Please see each zoo’s respective official website for up-to-date information.