By Matt Fouts
Amid the rolling hills and large houses of Fairfax County, the richest county per capita in the country, just out Washington DC is a smaller petting zoo. It was originally established in the 1950 ’s, and was recently purchased by Jacob Roer and Vanessa Stoffel.
I had a vague idea of what to expect based on conversations with the previous owner. However, Jacob and Vanessa have been incredibly busy since they took over in April. They have made numerous cosmetic and procedural improvements.
Their entry process is very similar to Tanganyika’s. You can pay admission and there are various feeding options. They do offer an Adventure Pass that let’s you do it all. Otherwise, you can purchase the feed and other experiences individually. Just like our Value Pass, the adventure pass is your best value and will get you a good sized bucket of feed that can be used throughout the facility.
The moment we walked out the door my kids climbed all over a large plaster rhino. Once we made it past the rhino, I immediately noticed the new asphalt paths connecting a series of buildings and various new construction projects.
To my left was a nice open air display for McCaws and to the right as a large barn that was built in the 1970’s. It was a stark contrast to all the new construction, but a integral part of their origins.
The historic barn was built when the zoo was just a dairy farm. The barn was full of various sheep and goats that can be fed using the feed bucket. It also housed a coin-operated safari jeep ride like you would see outside a retail store. My kids immediately flocked to the safari jeep, but quickly turned to feeding the animals in the barn.
In the same general area of the barn was a chicken coop that had been wittingly remodeled into a reptile house. Behind it was a new giraffe exhibit featuring their new baby giraffe. They had a giraffe deck and were starting to do feedings a couple of times a day like we do with the rhinos and hippos at Tanganyika.
Adjacent to the new giraffe exhibit was a large pen full of chickens and peacocks. Peacocks are Anna’s favorite animal and Vanessa was nice enough to let us go in their exhibit and feed them. It was probably the highlight of her trip and we have been busy doing some pretty awesome things.
Just past the large barn and reptile building is a path that leads to the safari area. They have a few primates exhibits with ring-tail lemurs and squirrel monkeys. This area also featured two highlights: the wagon ride and budgie feeding.
The wagon ride was on a large, covered trailer pulled by a tractor. They have a knowledgeable and friendly guide telling you about the animals as you go. The animals are free range inside the large pasture. Periodically, the tractor would stop and many of the animals would approach the wagon for food from the feed buckets. Some of the animals we saw included, Watusi cattle, Scottish highland cattle, emu, rheas, llamas, and zebras (they wisely don’t allow you to feed the zebras though).
The budgie feeding was also a big hit. I really like the budgies because they are a little less intimidating to smaller kids than the lorises we have at Tanganyika due to their smaller size. Luke especially enjoyed feeding, and naming, them. This is an exhibit we hope to add in the future.
All in all, it was a great visit. I went to Roer’s Zoofari without the expectations of a major, metropolitan zoo, but I was still impressed. This fledgling zoo has already made wonderful improvements and has some incredible potential.
If you are ever in the Washington DC area and want a little taste of Tanganyika Wildlife Park, I encourage you to check it out.