Bunnies, chickens and goats - oh my!
That phrase may not translate as well as it did as part of the Wizard of Oz mantra, but it sure has found it’s way into the hearts of both the young and old alike, thanks to Vickie Truby.
Truby is the owner/operator of a mobile petting zoo, well into its sixth year, and her cohort and ambassador for fun is a pig named Pearl that just may be the sweetest swine ever to don a necklace.
Truby, who had part of her entourage at Christmas in the Park at Heritage Park, said she couldn’t be happier than when she sees the reaction of children getting to hold or touch one of her zoo animals.
“Personally, I enjoy each and every event I host,” she said. “Sharing farm animals with kids who do not get the chance to see live animals, let alone pet and feed them, is so rewarding.”
For the majority of her life, however, Truby worked in an environment much different than one on her 6-acre farm in northeastern Parker County. For 27 years she worked for Tarrant County, beginning with the county judge's office, and then as an executive assistant to the budget director for 20 years.
“I wanted to retire at 55, what I still considered a young age, but knew I still wanted to do something,” she said. “So, two years before retirement, I eased into this business after seeing how our grandchildren loved our pets and livestock.”
After that, there was no stopping her as she built her mobile zoo complete with Holland Lop-eared bunnies; a Lion head bunny that looks like a long-haired Siamese cat; a Red Footed tortoise named Tank that is constantly on the move; Chinese Silkies chickens, whose feathers are almost like strands of hair; and a gorgeous Fainting Goat named Dante. Oh, and don’t forget Pearl, the 26-pound potbellied pig that wags her tail like a dog, who will take all of the love you can give her.
Truby said her clientele is varied. Her zoo doesn’t just serve as entertainment for children’s parties, but at other functions as well, such as the schools, day cares, Boy Scout outings, churches and senior center activities.
“I love taking the animals to the senior centers,” Truby said. “The majority of the people there grew up on farms and you can see it on their faces as they reminisce.”
She said her parties have been in front yards, back yards, driveways and city parks where she sets up small pens, about 2-1/2 foot tall, that kids can enter if they like, or if they're a little shy at first, they can feed and pet them over the fence.
“I am very proud to say that I have repeat customers, which is one of the highest forms of a compliment I can receive,” she said.
Truby’s customers love her, too.
“Our family has used Vickie four times now and could not be more happy with her petting zoo,” Krystle Joyner from Roanoke said. “Such a fun assortment of animals and the kids love getting to hold and feed them.”
Robyn Horton of Weatherford had a similar experience.
“We loved every minute of it,” Horton said. “The animals were perfect and the children loved holding and feeding them.”
Laurel Robinson of Plano called Vickie, “professional.”
“The kids absolutely loved it and Vickie was so professional and wonderful with the children,” she said.
Truby said her pricing is commensurate with that of bounce houses costing $250 per hour, $275 for a hour-and-a half or $300 for two hours. She is available seven days a week. Her maximum driving distance is a two hour radius from her Parker County home.
Mobile Petting Zoo
Owner: Vickie Truby