VIDEO: Victoria petting zoo optimistic about future after 13 months closed

A peacock struts by a pair of lamb siblings at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm, which remains closed to the public. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)A peacock struts by a pair of lamb siblings at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm, which remains closed to the public. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Beacon Hill Farm Society president Sylvia Brinckman shares some snacks a trio of goats at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm, which remains closed to the public. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)Beacon Hill Farm Society president Sylvia Brinckman shares some snacks a trio of goats at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm, which remains closed to the public. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Beacon Hill Farm Society president Sylvia Brinckman shares some love and snacks a trio of goats at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm, which remains closed to the public. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)Beacon Hill Farm Society president Sylvia Brinckman shares some love and snacks a trio of goats at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm, which remains closed to the public. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Beacon Hill Children’s Farm owner/operator Lynda Koenders visits with one of the many goats still on the property, despite the facility still being closed to the public. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)Beacon Hill Children’s Farm owner/operator Lynda Koenders visits with one of the many goats still on the property, despite the facility still being closed to the public. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

A pair of lambs frolic almost on cue in the enclosure, Maple the potbellied pig comes out to say hi, and a team of male peacocks strut around like they own the place.

Then there’s the goats.

Easily the most popular residents of the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm, these social, wire-haired animals are happy to see a new visitor.

“Not having people coming in, I know the animals miss the people. They love the attention,” said Lynda Koenders, the farm’s co-owner/operator.

It’s been more than 13 months since the petting zoo was open to the public. Under public health restrictions, the regular flow of families who love the baby goat stampede and getting up close and personal with other residents here is absent. Those who do come by to check out the animals from a distance are behind a tall fence, more physically distanced than last year, thanks to the donation of provincial and Canadian flags by The Flag Shop in Victoria.

ALSO READ: ‘Can’t afford to lose another summer’: B.C. tourism group supports COVID travel rules

Not only have families and other visitors been unable to enjoy hands-on time with the animals, donations are down, which Sylvia Brinckman, president of the non-profit Beacon Hill Farm Society, said makes things tough.

“Hay is still the same price, grain is still the same price, wages are still the same,” said Brinckman, who drops in every day for some “goat love.”

The farm opened for just six days in March 2020, around the time COVID-19 was beginning to raise eyebrows. Her husband Dennis Koenders watched the news March 11, Lynda said, “and he saw what was happening in Europe and said ‘this is going to hit us hard.’ We did not want to be like a super spreader, because spring break was coming up and we’re very, very busy,” she said, noting thousands of visitors traditionally come by in that period.

With not a lot of room for people for move between the pens, they made the decision to close. If and when they reopen, Koenders said, it’ll likely be with one-way paths, a maximum number of people, mandatory mask and hand sanitizer use and different rules for the petting area.

RELATED STORY: Beacon Hill Children’s Farm closes a week after opening due to COVID-19 risk

“The goats will be here, but you won’t be able to go in with them,” she said. “Because we are so hands on here, we just cannot clean the goats and clean other things in between people coming in.”

Government grants for payroll have helped with the cost of tending to the animals with a skeleton staff. Their large and willing volunteer base – unavailable due to restrictions – helps with labour in normal circumstances, but with certain costs fixed, Brinckman said, it’s donations that make the farm go.

An ongoing GoFundMe campaign called Goat Fund Us has done well, bringing in close to $100,000 to date.

The newest donation option for supporters is sponsorship programs, which can be gifted for Mother’s Day and come with a special certificate and photo of the sponsored animals. For more information on donations, visit beaconhillchildrensfarm.ca.


 

Do you have a story tip? Email:don.descoteau@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

animal welfareCharity and Donations

Just Posted

Victoria-born, 16-time Grammy winning musician David Foster penned a letter to the Greater Victoria School District May 7 urging them not to cut music programs. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
David Foster joins fight to save music in Greater Victoria School District

‘Music is the great equalizer’ Foster wrote in a letter to the district

‘Nindanikoobijiganag: We are Star People’ by Mississauga Nishnaabe Lucbanin artist Estrella Whetung. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Victoria beadwork exhibit speaks to evolving, enduring nature of Indigenous art

On Beaded Ground features work from West Coast artists and a Cedar Hill Middle School group

Former Victoria HarbourCat and Chicago White Sox player Andrew Vaughn. (Photo courtesy of Chicago White Sox)
Former Victoria HarbourCat hits first MLB home run, adds another two days later

Andrew Vaughn is the first HarbourCat alumni to hit a homer in the majors

A seniors housing complex proposed for Cedar Hill Road in Saanich was supported by council after a public hearing on May 12. (Rendering by Jenson Group Architects)
New 85-unit seniors housing development gets green light from Saanich council

Four-storey rental complex would be located on Cedar Hill Road

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Most Read