Tag Archives: living treasures

A Treasured Time at Living Treasures

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Last May our co-op of 10+ years disbarred. It was a sad day when we said good-bye to the church that had become a home away from home for over a decade as we met together with fellow “home” schoolers and dear friends every Wednesday to teach our children and allow them opportunities that are hard to facilitate in a home environment.

When our co-op began, our babies were all in preschool-3rd grade. At the end of the school year last year those same “babies” were entering their senior year with most of our kiddos working independently and no longer needing the co-op classroom environment for academics. It was an end to a beautiful era of life, one that we hated to say good-bye to, but knew we had outgrown the co-op’s original purpose.

Although we no longer needed the academic support that co-op was originally created for, we were still feeling the need for regular social get-togethers with our co-op friends who have become a second family over the years.

Our solution was to move our get-togethers out into the community and to meet twice a month rather than weekly. We decided that to facilitate these social events, and to make sure we made time for them to happen regularly, we (the moms) would each take a month of the school year and plan two field trips, outings, or holiday parties for the kids to meet up and connect with friends.

I signed up for October and the first outing I planned for the month was to Living Treasures Animal Park.

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 This park has a special place in my heart, as it is home to so many sweet memories. Our first visit here was with Gracie as a baby. We have visited it with my sister and her kids, my parents, my brother, my grandfather and many friends. Over the years we have created many sweet memories at this special place, and two Fridays ago we created a few more.

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We arrived as the doors opened and met up with the other co-op families in the parking lot. Because we had a group that exceeded the 20-person minimum for a group rate we were able to get in for $6.99/person, half the normal rate. We also purchased animal feed for the animals…

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Because that is the best part of Living Treasures!

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 This particular animal park is set up to allow visitors opportunities to interact with the animals more intimately than is possible at a zoo.

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The proximity and amount of interaction depends on the type of animal.

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The animals that you can pet and feed by hand include deer, cattle, alpaca, goats, and the wallabies.

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Bigger animals are fed through feeding tubes that drop their treats into a food dish.  These critters eagerly wait beside their bowls hoping for a handout. This system allows kids to interact with the animals up close without the risk of losing fingers.

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The monkeys at Living Treasures are fed with a bucket system. Visitors can place carrots or special monkey pellets in a bucket attached to a chain, and the monkeys can pull the bucket to the cage and fish out their treats.

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The animals all understand this system well and know what it means when little people with buckets come walking their way. The critters tend to swarm you when you approach, especially if you are among the first visitors of the day and everyone is still hungry.

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It was a beautiful day to be outside and it was wonderful seeing friends we hadn’t seen in a while…

And to enjoy it while loving on fur-babies made it all the better!

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Treasured Memories at Living Treasures

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Ever since our visit to the subpar animal park we visited while in Virginia I had been itching for a visit to Living Treasures Animal Park. With Brandon visiting for a few days we thought it the perfect excuse to visit.

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It is a bit of a tradition in our family. It seems with pre-placement visits with both Tyler and Ozzie, Living Treasures was on the agenda and one of both of their first memories of time with our family. I treasure this because Living Treasures holds a special place in my heart and has since I first visited almost 2 decades ago. It was our go-to outing adventure with the older three when they were too little for the miles of hiking at the zoo, and as a result I feel a sense of nostalgia when I enter its gates.

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Having special “firsts” memories of Ozzie and Tyler there, when they first entered our lives as 6 and 10-year-olds, makes this place all the sweeter.

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Now I will have equally sweet “firsts” memories of Brandon strolling down the same gravels paths that have been the source of much joy as a momma.

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We arrived and purchased some feed buckets and carrots and headed to the deer yard:

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The wonderful thing about Living Treasures that sets it apart from larger zoos is the proximity to the animals and the opportunity to interact with the wildlife so closely.

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The chance to feed animals from the palm of our hand or through a gravity fed feeding tubes produced larger than life smiles and numerous giggles.

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Everyone has their favorites whom they have come to know and love over seasons of visits.

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The giraffes are always a hit!

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Another favorite area is the goat pen/ nursery area. This area has changed a lot in the past decade. It used to be on large pen with goats and baby animals running free. It was fun to navigate your way through the chaos of tongues and fur as critters fought for attention.

Unfortunately this area is now very tame (thanks to liability risks I’m sure) with only a small petting area for the goats…

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And a separate pen for the babies of the park.

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Despite not being able to climb in the pen with them and “shnuggle ’em” like I’d like, we still had a wonderful time getting kisses from these ADORABLE slime monsters.

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The kangaroo/wallabies yard is another favorite area of the park due to the incredible fertility of the mommas that call this area home.

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It seems each and every one of them have a leg or two sticking out from her pouch. If one lingers long enough a baby sometimes will pop its head out to say “hello.”

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Tyler’s favorite section of the park is, and always has been, the aviary. Here the kids purchased a small container of seed to split. That $1.00 purchase provided a good 45 minutes of entertainment as the kids lured in these flying beauties with a sprinkling of seed on their hands.

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Turns out the seed wasn’t needed…

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The colorful string bracelets that adorned their wrists were the real bait!

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It was such a delight watching the kids find such delight in the animals and in each other’s company. It was fun to hang back and observe as our kiddos shared a beloved family tradition with Brandon,

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And an even bigger joy watching him let down his guard and just be a kid…

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Something he hasn’t been able to do for a long time.

Another special day for this momma’s “Living Treasure memory book!”

 

Living Treasures Animal Park

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While Molly and Rusty were hiking with the school’s Adventure Club, Tyler, Ozzie and I went on an adventure of our own.

Just down the road from McConnells Mill State Park is Living Treasures Animal Park. This park has a special place in my heart, as it is home to so many sweet memories. Our first visit here was with Gracie as a baby. We have visited it with my sister and her kids, my parents, my brother, my grandfather and many friends. Over the years we have created many sweet memories at this special place, and Thursday we created a few more.

It has been over a year since we visited Living Treasures. We were long overdue for a trip to our favorite animal park. Having just the little boys with me afforded me the opportunity to spend some special one on one time with the two youngest and give them the chance to create some special memories together as brothers.

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We arrived as the doors opened and I bought animal feed for both boys to feed the animals. The fun thing about this park is the many opportunities to interact with all the animals more intimately than you can at a zoo.

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The animals that you can pet and feed by hand include deer, cattle, alpaca, goats, and the giraffes.

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The giraffes are some of our favorite friends at Living Treasures.

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Currently there is a new addition in the giraffe house. Baby Calvin, a one month old calf, was recently born at Living Treasures weighing in at 145 pounds and standing 6’3″tall. He is now making daily appearances with mama a few times a day.

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What a doll he was!

Bigger animals are fed through feeding tubes that drop their treats into a food dish that they eagerly wait beside, hoping for a handout. This system allows kids to interact with the animals up close without the risk of losing fingers.

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The monkeys and apes at Living Treasures are fed with a bucket system. Visitors can place carrots or special monkey pellets in a bucket attached to a chain, and the monkeys can pull the bucket to the cage and fish out their treats.

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Other animals, like the alligators, can only been viewed from a safe distance away.

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 Two of our favorite exhibits in the park were the aviary, where guests are invited to feed the birds, and the petting zoo, where the goats and baby animals are housed.

At the aviary the boys had a wonderful time feeding their bright, feathered friends. Never have we experienced that level of interest from the birds. Being the first visitors of the day paid off, as the birds all had empty stomachs and were eager to eat. The result reminded me of a certain Alfred Hitchcock classic.

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It made for a lot of squeals and giggles, and some awesome photo opportunities.

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We experienced a different sort of swarm when we entered the petting zoo area to feed the goats. They too acted as though they hadn’t been fed in months and were all over the boys and their buckets.

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The best part of visiting this area of Living Treasures, however, is the baby animals. Here we were able to feed and pet two baby camels, and various baby cattle. Oh, how sweet they were. Oh, how tempted I was to smuggle one home!

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Especially this sweet thing, that looks like a hoofed version of a Basset Hound.

There were also a few baby pot belly pigs that reminded us of our own Pot Belly Pig, Harley D. Hog, when we first brought him home as a bottle fed baby.

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All too soon, it was time to leave and pick up the other kids from their Adventure Club outing. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to create some special memories with my two youngest.

It is a day I will treasure.

 

 

Living Treasures Animal Park

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About 30 minutes from our home we have a gem of a place we like to visit:

Living Treasures Animal Park.

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We have been visiting this hidden treasure for 15 years, beginning when Grace was just a wee lass, toddling around the park. When we first started visiting it wasn’t the same place it is today. Over the years it has grown, expanded, and improvements have been made, but that “small zoo” feel remains the same. My kids have always preferred Living Treasures to the Pittsburgh Zoo, due mainly to their close proximity to the animals and the interactions they can have feeding and petting the animals.

Interactions  that aren’t possible at larger zoos.

We have so many sweet memories of visits to Living Treasures…

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Memories of Great Grandpa Parmley feeding the animals with us, of field trips and “get togethers” with Aunt Kelly when Lydia was her only child. We have pictures of my kids, before they were old enough to start school, walking around, feeding the animals, and petting the goats.

Over the years Living Treasures has become less of a “hidden” gem and the crowds have grown, but even with the changes that have been made and the increase in popularity, it still remains a magical place in our hearts,

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Grace and Molly

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and a “must visit” destination when the cousins come for a visit!

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Thursday morning we fed the kiddos breakfast, packed a picnic lunch, and drove over to Living Treasures Animal Park. When we arrived we purchased a couple buckets of feed and a few bags of carrots to feed the animals.

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We spent 2 1/2 hours walking around the park feeding and petting animals. The kids were thrilled to see so many babies this late in the summer. They were especially thrilled by the newly born baby jaguar, which most agreed was the highlight of the zoo.

Baby deer

Baby deer

Grace got to help bottle feed a baby camel.

Grace got to help bottle feed a baby camel.

The precious baby jaguar.

The precious baby jaguar.

The cutest babies at Living Treasures!

The cutest babies at Living Treasures!

As the kids walked around they fed some of the animals, like the goats, deer,  alpaca, and babies, by hand and other bigger animals by dropping feed down a tube which landed in a feeding bucket near the fence. This system of feeding keeps the kids’ little fingers safe but the animals in close proximity for easy viewing.

Sammy feeding the wallaby carrots.

Sammy feeding the wallaby carrots.

Rusty and his very hungry friend!

Rusty and his very hungry friend!

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Feeding the birds.

Feeding the birds.

Everyone had a wonderful time feeding the animals!

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When we had our fill of animal time we stopped at the gift shop where the kids enjoyed spending their gift money from G.G.

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Lydia and Nate

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Then it was time for lunch. By this point everyone was hungry and ready to eat so we drove over to McConnell’s Mill State Park and had a picnic.

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When we were done eating we took the kids down to the mill to walk around and explore the rocks, the waterfall, and the covered bridge. What a beautiful place!

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All the boy cousins.

All the boy cousins.

And the girls!

And the girls!

Then it was home for dinner. (Kelly treated us to pizza…YUM!) and time for some nighttime fun…

Stay tuned!