When was the last time you walked among horses or chatted while petting sheep? Kaskela petting zoo is an animal lover’s oasis, where adulthood can be forgotten.
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I visited Kaskela petting zoo (Kaskelan kotieläinpiha) on a hot summer day with my 10-year-old daughter. To my surprise, the pre-teen forgot about her role as a ”big girl” while literally entering among animals.
Who’s afraid of ”the Sarge”?
The first animal you encounter in its own fenced yard is the huge German shepherd Kessu (”the Sergeant or Sarge”). The big animal is friendly and curious, but due to its huge size some people coul
d be frightened.
-We never keep Kessu free, if there is but one child who is afraid of dogs, the owner of Kaskelan kotieläinpiha Minna Kivistö tells. Kessu however does enjoy the attention and although we have everything from goats to horses and from chicken to sheep, it is without doubt Kessu who is our petting zoo’s absolute favourite, she laughs.
I don’t wonder, for as a dog lover I can but appreciate the goodlooking German Shepherd, but in addition there is something strangely sweet about Kessu. You would want to give him a hug.
Little by little and doing-it-yourself
Minna Kivistö is not the typical animal owner, for she has built the majority of her petting zoo herself. The petting zoo, that opened its doors about a year and a half ago, has been built with love and piety. Her husband has of course helped a little here and there and the most demanding construction work was done by a professional. But it is clear Minna is not the one left standing with her hands down her pockets, if something needs fixing or tidying up.
The projects are in no way over yet. At the moment, a back terrace is being put togehter behind the café building, to ensure shady places to sit down on really hot summer days.
Sensible amount of animals
Kaskela petting zoo is no humongous facility and the number of animals is not too big. Whether you would count the number in different species or total amount of creatures. A sensible amount of animal means, that the staff really has got time to take care of the animals and that there is enough space for species typical behaviour for all individuals.
While listening to the lady of the yard talking, one can really tell that every fencing, building and play site has been thoroughly thought through and planned. There is plenty of room for play and rest and even a non-expert like myself can tell the animals are happy.
”You can go in there!”
While I am trying to stretch myself to take a picture of the beautiful horses, Minna says that it is fine to go among them. I have always been a friend of horses, but since my own experiences are limited to only some riding trips, I feel like thinking over the proposition. However, before I even think the thought through, I find myself amongst the horses, where the friendly animals come to greet. As I am stroking the mane of the beautiful Finnish horse and look into its soft and curious eyes, I almost forget to snap the picture.
Only when I am in the horses’ paddock, I realise what a vast area they have at their disposal. But then it occurs to me that even this is only a part of their pasture. They also have a summer pasture by the banks of Kerava river, where they can enjoy grass and other delicacies growing on the fields of the embankment. If I were a horse, I would certainly be happy living in Kaskela petting zoo.
Of course, guests are not usually allowed inside the paddock, especially children, since the horses with their big manes could frighten especially smaller children. But among the sheep and the goats it is more than OK to go with guardians and at their responsibility! Naturally, one should however wait for someone of the staff before entering the inside of the fence, as the animals could be frightened with strangers coming in unannounced.
Children’s camps, birthday parties and other events
Children’s camps for children of different ages are held at Kaskela petting zoo throughout the summer. In addition, one can organise for instance a birthday celebration with open fire barbecue and even horse or pony back riding.
Plenty of parking space and delicacies at the café
The entrance fee is paid at the café building by the entrance, where there also are a few tables and chairs. The entrance is right next to the big parking lot, that has been cleared on a big field. In addition to coffee, cold drinks, sweets and ice creams, the café always serves at least one sweet and one salty treat. Dietary restrictions can also be considered.
You can also choose to eat literally in the middle of animals. In the central parts of the petting zoo, there are several table groups, where eating your own picnic food is also allowed. However, the delicacies at the café look so good that at least I would not bother to drag any food with me from home.
Stick horse course is free to use
In addition to real horses and ponies, there is also a stick horse course, with stick horses that you can borrow for free. Children and adults alike can therefore organise their own stick horse competitions amongst friends or family members. I felt a little sorry that my daughter thought that this might be a little juvenile for her. For once I would have been free to look even more stupid than usual, without feeling embarrassed!
The cherry on the cake is the nature trail
A short nature trail ranging around 600 meters begins at the end of the yard. Rounding the horses’ summer pasture, it encircles a part along the embankment of Kerava river. Among the nature trail there is also an interesting building that will catch the eye of at least the smaller children, but it did start a funny conversation also between myself and my 10-year-old.
You could spend the entire day here
The area is in no sense vast, and the feeling is laid back. There is plenty to see but, on the other hand – as the owner herself says – many times it is just enough to sit down and watch the animals do whatever they are doing. It is actually quite therapeutic, especially when you know that you can pet the animals if you feel like it.
Kaskela petting zoo is not yet widely known, partly due to its rather young age. But being the unique place it is, I am confident that will change over time.
I can warmly recommend Kaskela petting zoo to adults and children of all ages. Worth noting is however, that since the area is uncovered, heavy rains and thunderstorms can force to shut the place down temporarily.
Open during summer from Wednesday to Sunday from noon to 5 pm (12-17)
Entrance fee 6 € / person
(Children under 2 years and personal assistant to disabled person enter free of charge.)
Assisted pony riding on Sundays between 2 and 3 pm (14-15) à 4 € / child.
NB! For safety reasons, customers own animals are not allowed to enter the petting zoo area.
Kaskelan kotieläinpiha (Website in Finnish)
Last modified 29.06.2021