By Jasmine Willis
WAYLAND – The local petting zoo is working as a sanctuary for children to love and learn life lessons.
On April 3 Dinky Doo Petting Zoo and Pony Rides Too held its opening season event with an Easter Egg Hunt. There were hundreds of community children who came eager to fill their baskets with toys and candy.
The Easter Bunny, Winnie the Pooh, and Elsa of Arendelle all made a special appearance. The new sign labeled Love and Learn Life Lessons went up for opening day as well. This sign drives home the commitment the petting zoo has to bringing these lessons to the community.
Cherie Carter, Dinky Doo Petting Zoo owner said she plans on offering these lessons next month.
“We had a moment to see this happen at the Easter Egg Hunt. I had a little girl show up late. I asked the other children to share their candy and toys with her. This was a lesson I wanted to teach the older kids. I was very touched to see the little kids share their candy and toys with her too,” she said.
Carter plans on making lessons about compassion, kindness, helping others, and treating others the way you like to be treated. She has been watching lesson videos on how to show children these aspects of human nature. It has inspired her to bring this to the community using her petting zoo.
“I saw a few lessons done online and they were simple. They were easy for the children to understand. It shows how they feel if this happened to them, and how to treat other people. It also gives examples about how they would feel if it was someone they loved,” she said.
Carter gave an example of this when she was with a friend at Goodwill in Geneseo. Her friend had an epileptic seizure that went unnoticed by everyone in the store. This example showed the impact of how disconnected everyone in society has become. Carter was deeply troubled that no one offered to help her friend. She is determined to bring humanity back to our society.
“The worst thing I saw recently is when I was at Goodwill in Geneseo. My friend gave out this blood curdling scream and fell to the ground. She was having an epileptic seizure. Not a single person in the store came to her or acknowledged what was happening. That is the world we live in now,” she said. “I had her in my lap. I was trying to help her. I thought this is a sad society we have now. Now people just record it on their phones, or they simply just walk away from it. This is why I am striving to bring people back to being human beings and learning how to love one another. We need to get back to God and appreciate what it means to be human.”
Jessica Levinson, Leah’s Place founder said she feels very called to be part of the new efforts being made at the petting zoo.
“I feel very called to be part of what is happening here. We are going to reach the children in this community, and get involved in their lives in a positive way. This has always been a mission that is deeply close to my heart. This is also a place of haven for the animals,” she said. “We attract the broken types of people here with real life experiences. People are reached in a really profound way when they come to this place. We have a three-legged goat that was rescued. So many can relate to this goat. That little goat has touched so many lives. Instead of being tossed to the side this goat has found a home to belong and be loved. People who are broken can relate to this animal in a very deep way. Just like when they hold a tiny bunny that still remembers them when it is an older bunny. It is the kind of therapy like this that really makes a big difference in people’s lives.”
Levinson said bringing love and learn life lessons to the petting zoo will give local children a chance to learn from the animals and grow.
“I am stepping up to support the zoo anyway I can. This is such a pivotal moment for all of us. We are all in tough times right now. We are all in this together. I think having events like this will help put a footprint in the community on what we are trying to achieve here. We have very strong goals with the young people in the area,” she said.
Carolyn’s Sweets donated all proceeds from raffle and baked goods to Dinky Doo Petting Zoo.
Carter told the young people at the event that she plans on teaching lessons on self-respect, helping others, giving, caring, and learning to be good citizens.
Levinson added that Dinky Doo Petting Zoo is the happiest place on earth not only for children, but for all the adults in the area too.
A Yard Sale for Dinky Doo Petting Zoo takes place April 23, 24, and 25 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. All proceeds go to the Love and Learned Life Lessons Program.
Carter expressed her deep gratitude to everyone who volunteered and came to the Easter Egg Hunt.
“Thank you everyone who helped make our second Easter Egg Hunt a huge success this year. Couldn’t have made it without our wonderful community’s help. God Bless everyone who helped and supported this event. We have many more events planned this year. Please help if you can. Thank you for your love and support. Let’s all make wonderful memories and build a strong community together,” she said.
Cinco de Mayo is May 1 and 2 at noon. This will be the celebration of life for everyone. Carter plans on Mia Llama being all dressed up for photos with the children.
Dinky Doo Petting Zoo is open Thurs. to Sat. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sun. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The zoo is located at 1864 Rt. 63 in Wayland. Contact them at 585-978-5611 to help volunteer or any other information.