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Gas City Petting Zoo
Contact: Dave Pattison (765.677.3083)
The mini zoo is located in the Gas City Park and houses over 100 animals ranging from Australian black swans to whitetail deer. The zoo is open from 7:00 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily throughout the year.
Visitors of all ages are attracted to the petting zoo. Kindergarten and first-grade students visit the zoo and especially enjoy the petting the animals in the corral. Nursing home residents from neighboring cities such as Fort Wayne and Kokomo have visited the zoo. The zoo has also established a program for taking animals to the local nursing homes for the residents to see.
The zoo evolved from a suggestion made by Joe Miitsch, former Superintendent of the Utilities Department. In order to provide children and seniors with the opportunity to enjoy the animals and to eliminate the need to mow the area, Joe suggested that the grounds of the wastewater treatment facility be developed into a petting zoo. With the approval of the Department of Natural Resources to house goats and deer and the blessing of the City Administration, the petting zoo opened to the public in 1988. It wasn't long, however, before the petting zoo not only housed goats and deer, but included sheep, a donkey, a mini-horse, a pot-bellied pig, llamas, emus, pygmy goats, Australian black swans, peacocks, turkeys, chickens, rabbits, geese, pheasants, and ducks. All the animals have names now; there is Madison the pot-bellied pig, Jenny the donkey and Peggy Sue (a goat) that thinks she is a llama. In 2007 five new fawns were added to zoo and named by local children. These fawns are Baby Lilly, Zena, Cartwheel, and Hot Dog.
Wonder how much food they eat? A city employee feeds the animals each day and one year's consumption is: 9 tons of grain, over 400 bales of hay, and several bags of pig food, emu pellets, rabbit pellets, and corn. Approximately 80 percent of the hay that is consumed is grown on city property. Individuals required to perform community service work assist in the zoo by packaging the animal feed that is made available in the vending machines and cleaning up after the animals. The care of the animals sometimes goes beyond the daily feeding and watering. Over the years the Miitsch' s home has housed motherless fawns, baby goats; swans and llamas with some of the orphaned animals being bottle-fed by the Miitches's. The animals have provided the Joe and his wife with much amusement as they have watched ducks sitting on the chicken eggs until they hatched or turkeys sitting on peacock eggs.
The mini zoo is solely supported by donations and the proceeds from the animal feed and soda pop machines located on the grounds. Contributions for the mini-zoo can be sent to the Gas City Utilities Department, 200 E. N. "A" Street, Gas City, IN 46933, c/o Petting Zoo.