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Burns petting zoo makes Chingawassa plans

News editor

Every year, Chingawassa Days adds a few new attractions to go with returning favorites, and this year is no different.

One of the new attractions for 2012 will be “Portable Pets,” a Burns-based petting zoo operated by Phillip Dill and Christine Reust. This will be the third season for Dill and Reust operating the petting zoo, which they relocated from Eureka.

“I called about buying some goats and wound up buying the whole business,” Dill said of how he bought a petting zoo.

The previous owner had a really good sales pitch, he said: they already had more bookings lined up for that season than the asking price for the business.

“I love having a petting zoo,” Reust said Monday. “It’s very rewarding, to bring it to kids and adults alike.”

Reust said her full-time job is in day-care, plus she has nieces and nephews, and she loves to see the smiles on children’s faces when they get up close with the animals.

Their animals in the petting zoo run a wide gamut of child-friendly critters — they have some Nigerian Dwarf goats, a variety of miniature sheep, a 22-year-old miniature Sicilian donkey, a llama, rabbits, ducks, chickens, guinea pigs, a potbelly pig, bottle calves, and miniature Hereford and miniature Zebu (miniature cattle, 36 to 38 inches tall).

“My Zebu bull is my buddy,” Dill said.

He said the biggest attention-getters at the petting zoo are the llama and miniature Zebu.

Reust estimated caring for all of the animals takes at least 1.5 hours each morning and evening, and more in the heat of summer. Despite the time commitment, Reust and Dill get enjoyment out of caring for the animals.

“It’s nice, peaceful,” Dill said.

Their planned presence at Chingawassa Days is the result of a little bit of serendipity. They had the petting zoo at the grand opening for the tire shop, and a member of the Chingawassa Days committee was there and saw the animals.

Portable Pets petting zoo will be on the east side of Central Park in Marion from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 2 during Chingawassa Days.

Portable Pets has a website, http://www.portablepets4u.webs.com.

Other new attractions include:

  • Wild Women of the Frontier historical re-enactors.
  • Magical entertainer Bob Phillips.
  • A three-on-three basketball tournament.
  • Sunflower Stompers clog dancers.
  • A frozen T-shirt contest.
  • A tug-o-war tournament.
  • “Gladiator Grudge Matches.”
  • NFL Pro-Bowler and Kansas City Chiefs’ radio reporter Kendall Gammon.
  • A clay rhino-sculpting contest.
  • And an antique tractor ride and “Rhino Roast.”

Last modified May 17, 2012

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