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Fuzzy-wuzzies, baby bears & bunnies make Baby Animal Days a hit

May 12th, 2014 Posted in Arts and Life

By Sarah Romero

WELLSVILLE—Snuggling soft and fuzzy bunnies. Chasing baby goats. Cradling tiny fluffy chicks. Patting little lambs. What’s not to like?

header_bgThe American West Heritage Center on Hwy. 89/91 in Wellsville drew thousands of families at its 19th annual Baby Animal Days—especially baby humans, who cooed and giggled with their cuddly animal friends. Along with baby chicks, bunnies and lambs, there were baby goats, bears, a fishing pond, train rides, and much more.

The annual spring milestone went “really well,” said Rebecca Getz, Heritage Center marketing manager and executive assistant.

There’s kids that come to us who haven’t even pet a cat or a dog,” she said. “So for them to get to come here and hold a chick, throw in a fishing line and see these mama goats with their babies, I think the more we can expose them to that kind of stuff, the better.”


NOSE TO NOSE with a flop-eyed baby bunny. SARAH ROMERO photo

April weather is often spotty in Cache Valley, but Getz she said this year was almost as popular as last year, which was a record year for attendance.

“We don’t have exact numbers yet,” she said. “But a rough estimate is 13,500 people for our grand total this year.”

Getz said the most popular event was probably the baby bears; the line was long waiting to see them.

Shawnica Sperry, a junior studying sociology at USU, attended Baby Animal Days for the first time. She was determined to see the baby bears, even though an hour-long line stretched ahead of her.    

“I’m willing to wait because I’ve never seen baby bears in real life,” Sperry said.

Volunteer Tiffany Tolman stood near the long line with a baby lamb in her arms. She said her job was to “entertain the bear line.”

“It’s just really fun,” she said. “Obviously, you get to hold the animals for long periods of time, which is definitely a bonus. Plus I really like kids and making them smile.”

Tolman said Baby Animal Days is a way for parents to educate their children. She’s seen parents teaching their children about the animal’s different body parts and why their fur is a certain color.

“It’s cool to see the education aspect,” she said. “But I think the kids also just really like fuzzy things.”

Nine-year-old Ellie Thompson is one of those fuzzy-animal-loving kids. She went to Baby Animal Days for the first time this year, and said she’ll come back next year.


QUACKERS—A first-time Baby Animal fan falls in love with a duckling. SARAH ROMERO photo

“My favorite part is holding them, because they’re soft,” she said. “I like the bunny best because it’s really soft.”

Volunteer Emilee Bennett said she loves to see children’s reactions to the baby animals. “They’re just so happy with the simplest things,” she said. “Like the animals wiggling their head or anything simple like that.”

While there were many first-timers at the event, some families have become Baby Animal Day veterans.

Cammie Toone has come out for the past “10-plus years.”

“I love it,” Toone said. “The kids have a lot of fun. It’s fun for them to see the baby animals and not just the big ones all the time. They look forward to it every year.”

Along with providing baby animals to hold, AWHC opens its historical homes for children to explore. In one of the homes, some staff handed out gingerbread cookies baked in a wood-burning stove.

“This is demonstrating how they would cook in the year 1917 on a farm,” staff member Casey Jacobson said. “We want to show people how the past lived.”

Jacobson said it’s fun for the kids to go upstairs to see the bedrooms. “They get all excited, ‘this is tiny!’ And I say, ‘Ya and you’d be sharing the three bedrooms with your eight brothers and sisters.’ It’s just kind of fun to hear their reactions.”

Getz said the event was a success, although some minor changes are planned for next year. With the thousands of people who attended, Getz said the ticket lines got congested and cluttered.

“Next year we’re going to reconfigure the ticket-selling points,” she said. “We’re also going to try to push online ticket sales harder next year. It really helped to cut down our lines.”

Education and Volunteer Manager Karen Larson said AWHC relies on about 125 volunteers each day to manage the event.

“If we didn’t have our volunteer staff, there’s no way we could put this on,” Getz said. “So, a big round of applause needs to go to our volunteer staff cause they really do a lot for us.”


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