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

A fire destroyed a commercial building on Idlemore Road early Tuesday. The fire is under investigation. (Kenn Mount photo)
UPDATED: Early morning fire destroys new Sooke distillery

Firefighters still investigating cause of Island Shiners Distillery blaze early Tuesday

A map of Huu-ay-aht-owned forestry cutblock. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Island First Nations restrict access to territory in wake of forestry standoffs

Huu-ay-aht set up checkpoints after heated and dangerous incidents on southwest Vancouver Island

Sean Hart, 34, unexpectedly left the Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health Facility in Saanich on Nov. 6, 2020 and has now been missing for six months. (Photo courtesy Penny Hart)
Mom still hopeful for Island man who left care six months ago, hasn’t been seen since

Support from community, police keeps search alive for Sean Hart six months after his disappearance

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
Island First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

“We need to get to the root of what is actually happening with the RCMP and our communities”

Oak Bay resident Hugh Thompson died Friday, May 7. (GoFundMe photo)
Oak Bay dad dies mountain biking near Shawnigan Lake

Community rallies around family with online fundraiser

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
B.C. to provide three days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

(Pixabay)
B.C. doctors could face consequences for spreading COVID misinformation: college

College says doctors have a higher level of responsibility to not spread incorrect information

The seasonal Search and Rescue program will run between May to September. ( File photo/Canadian Coast Guard)
North Vancouver Island Coast Guard Inshore Rescue Program ready to relaunch

Teams have protocols in place to ensure COVID-19 safety while providing marine safety net

Kelowna resident Sally Wallick helped rescue a kayaker in distress a week and a half ago. (Sally Wallick/Contributed)
VIDEO: Kelowna woman rescues capsized kayaker in Okanagan Lake

Sally Wallick is asking people to be prepared for the cold water and unpredictable winds

Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about phase two in B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
All of B.C. will eventually ease out of COVID-19 restrictions at same time: Henry

People who have received two doses of a vaccine can’t yet return to post-pandemic activities with each other, she says

Winnipeg Jets’ Andrew Copp (9) and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) watch an incoming shot during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, April 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
‘Very jealous’: Canadian teams can’t take advantage of NHL’s relaxed COVID-19 rules

League eased some tight COVID-19 health and safety protocols over the weekend for fully vaccinated clubs

Police stopped, then let go this man and his large collection of cans during a stop Monday morning on Resthaven Drive. Police had received a report of a possible theft, but let him go after he had returned the property, which he believed was his to take after being left out in public. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Precarious cartload balancing act of ‘put out’ goods draws raised eyebrows in Sidney

Police determined goods were not left out for anyone to take, property returned

Business founder Jeff Ross stands outside his shop Gold Silver Guy in Qualicum Beach on May 10, 2021. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Qualicum Beach store owner finds shop in shambles after early morning robbery

RCMP investigating after door smashed, showcases shattered and inventory stolen

Most Read