Clam Gulch couple offers chance to see animals up close, personal

Posted: Sunday, September 19, 2004

 

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  Melissa Holmes, 3, of Kenai, asks Diane Odd if she can hold P.B. the rabbit. Odd and her husband, Russell, are the owners of Critters petting zoo in Clam Gulch. Photo by Jenny Neyman

Daren Dutcher and his 4-year-old daughter, Samantha, of Nikiski pet Insee the Nigerian dwarf goat at a petting zoo in the parking lot of IGA Country Foods in Kenai on Saturday.

Photo by Jenny Neyman

For the "city folks" of the central Kenai Peninsula, a Saturday afternoon trip to run errands doesn't typically involve seeing a duck and rabbit, much less a Nigerian dwarf goat and miniature donkey.

For Diane and Russell Odd, such sightings are a daily occurrence, since they care for those animals and many more at their petting zoo Critters in Clam Gulch. Though being surrounded by animals from common farm ones to more obscure pets like Bengal cats and emus is commonplace for them, they realize such sightings can be out of the ordinary for others, so they decided to share their experience by bringing a few critters to Kenai on Saturday and today.

The petting zoo, set up in the parking lot of IGA Country Foods on Willow Street, attracted a steady stream of attention from shoppers who detoured to see the animals up close to people just driving by wondering what they were looking at.

"It's a llama!" exclaimed a passenger of one vehicle after spying the scene.

Diane yelled a correction after them, "No, it's a miniature donkey!"

Posey, the straw hat-wearing donkey attracting the attention, may look a little llama-ish from afar with her white fur, but up close she is all donkey, albeit a small one.

Her diminutive size 31 inches at the shoulder was a big hit with the visitors she drew, since many of them were only as tall or shorter than she is.

"There's not much for little kids here and they seem to really love it," Diane said.

 

Melissa Holmes, 3, of Kenai, asks Diane Odd if she can hold P.B. the rabbit. Odd and her husband, Russell, are the owners of Critters petting zoo in Clam Gulch.

Photo by Jenny Neyman

Jody Gardner of Ninilchik brought her kids to pet and feed the animals. There was corn for the duck and carrots for the 20-pound dwarf goat, Insee. Posey munched whatever she could get her mouth on grass for the most part, augmented by whatever leftovers the other animals didn't finish.

"It's great that kids get to see them that don't have them," Gardner said of the animals.

Diane and Russell kept a close watch on the activity, but mostly to make sure Posey didn't wander off too far or that the duck and Insee didn't escape their pen. Diane said she wasn't concerned about the kids interacting with the animals.

"When they're raised tame, you don't worry about it," she said.

Insee, for example, is a lap goat that loves to sit with and on people, Diane said. The rabbit, Pocket Bunny (P.B. for short) seems to think he's a cat instead of a rabbit, since he loves to cuddle so much. Diane owes this to the fact that she and Russell rescued him after he was abandoned in a barn as a baby so small he could fit in a pocket. Since he wasn't raised with other rabbits he lacks the rabbit-like behavior of nibbling fingers, Diane said.

The animal attraction isn't just for kids, though.

"Grown men stop by that have never even fed a duck," she said.

The petting zoo will be at Country Foods from noon to 5 p.m. today.

Clarion reporter Joseph Robertia contributed to this story.



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