Arielle Dreher Herald writer
EVERETT — It’s a sunny Thursday afternoon. Goat bleats and chicken clucks can be heard from the red barns situated on the hillside.
The Forest Park Animal Farm is bustling again.
This summer there’s a turkey, chickens, ducks, a goose, bunnies, pigs, sheep, goats, a horse, ponies and alpacas. Pony rides and entry are free, though donations support the seasonal farm. The gates are open every day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., through Aug. 25.
“We love giving everyone a farm experience,” said Paul Minnich, the assistant manager.
“People love it here, and I like to make sure everyone leaves happy.”
For Pearl and Tasman Foster, this was exactly the case.
Tom and Leslie Foster. of Mukilteo, decided to bring their granddaughters to the animal farm for the first time on Thursday. Pearl, 5, and Tasman, 2, are living in Korea but visiting for the summer. The Fosters were happy that they could show their granddaughters some farm animals for the first time. The girls live in a city and don’t see many animals.
“They don’t even know the difference between zoo animals and farm animals,” Leslie Foster said.
That didn’t seem to bother the girls, however, as they wandered happily from cage to coop, peering into each with eagerness.
“I think they’re enjoying it,” their grandfather said.
About 1,000 people visit the farm every day. The animals are “donated” for the summer, Minnich said. They come from county farms, park staff and animal shelters.
Corrine Harris is the resident horse expert, and this is her third summer at the farm. Her favorite part of the job is teaching a horsemanship class.
“I love working with the kids and the animals,” she said.
Roughly half of the farm’s staff are studying animal or veterinary science. Harris is studying animal science at WSU. This summer seems busier than previous years, she said, with more people and more donations.
The animal farm, located at 802 E. Mukilteo Blvd., offers free pony rides 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. most days, except for Tuesdays and Wednesdays. There is a suggested $3 donation. The farm also offers classes for kids and a bunny adoption program.
One of the farm’s bunnies recently had babies, and Minnich made sure to point them out to a group of girls who were about to walk past the cage. They squealed with delight and pointed at the 10 bunnies cuddled together. The bunnies seemed to be the most popular animal Thursday.
Though she’s a little shy, Pearl Foster didn’t hesitate when asked which animal was her favorite. “Bunny!” she said, before running off to see them all.