Yesterday, one of Victoria, B.C.’s most wonderful (and affordable) little attractions reopened after a winter hiatus. Beacon Hill Children’s Farm’s menagerie of farm animals, peacocks and flamboyantly-crowned chickens offers an off-the-beaten path experience to visiting families.
There are bunnies and donkeys to fawn over, plus a bird-filled building, where tiny finches flit from branch to branch. Many of these animals have restrictions on touch, so don’t feel disappointed if you can’t hug a pot-bellied pig.
But then you arrive at the African Pygmy goat pen, a glorious exception to the rules. In this family favorite, baby and adult goats meander and mill about in a large enclosure. Children mingle with four-legged friends, and use grooming brushes on dozens of patient goats. Parents snap pictures, and the kids (goat and human) interact playfully, bleating at one another. It’s the best part of the Beacon Hill petting zoo.
At 10 a.m. daily, the “Running of the Goats” (or “Goat Stampede”) occurs. The petting zoo’s staff clear families from the main pathway – and the entire goat herd gallops from their pens into the petting enclosure. Children erupt in squeals and applause as hooves gallop past, leaving plumes of dust behind.
And at around 4 p.m. (5 p.m. in summer), goats return to their pens in a cloud of frenzied fur. The stampede offers a great transition for children who don’t want to give up the grooming brushes.
Best for: All ages, even kids who think they’re too cool to chill with goats.
Find it: In Beacon Hill Park, Victoria. Use this map to find the exact location. Open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (5 p.m. in summer). Phone number is 381-2532
Suggested donation: $3.00 adults $2.00 children.