About a week ago I had the awesome honor of photographing my friend’s daughter.
You saw one of her pictures on the Mother’s Day Card posted on my card page. Dawn was a great little model for one so young doing everything I asked of her and hanging in until I was done. Such patience in a young one deserves a reward so Nancy, Dawn’s mother suggested we take Dawn to see the Barn Babies at the Westgate Mall.
Now my little friend Dawn is as much of an animal lover as I am so that was easy to agree to and off we went.
Set up was inside the mall with hay bales to sit on and plenty of plastic to cover the floor. The lamb wore a diaper and the puppies and tiny little pig were in mini enclosures. There were plenty of Barn Baby staff to assist and parents or adult friends were also allowed into the enclosure. I’d be lying if I said it was quiet. It was not ! It was crowded and all of the kids were excited but the staff had it down to a science.
Each child had a sticker with the time they came in. Every half hour or so a bell was rung and the children who had been there the longest had to leave to make room for a new group. A child could get back in line to go in again but had to wait their turn.
The children could hold bunnies and kittens and chicks. Each baby animal was swaddled in a blanket by a staff member before being placed gently in the child’s hands. The children were then told to sit down quietly. To my surprise none of the babies seemed to be nervous or upset.
I asked the staff about that as I held a bunny that was dozing in my arms. They said the swaddling gives the babies a sense of security and keeps them calm. If they get stressed they burrow into the swaddling cloths and that keeps them from scratching the child by trying to get away. They also watch for signs that a baby is getting stressed and if so rotate them out for a time so they can calm down.
After we left I got to thinking about all the baby animals I saw especially the kittens and chicks and bunnies. I know how many cats are abandoned and need homes and how around Easter the Humane Society and other rescue groups beg the public not to get bunnies and chicks as pets because they are so often abandoned or surrendered shortly after they are brought home for the holiday.
So I wrote to Barn Babies and asked them what happened to these animals after they were too big for the traveling zoo. I was gratified to get a quick response. Having witnessed their gentle care in the chaos of the mall and with the quick response I feel comfortable giving them a hearty Thumbs Up.
So here in their own words is was I was told:
Barn Babies works closely with local farmers and breeders. Many of the babies you saw on Tuesday already have “furrever” homes, which are families that we approve to adopt them after they retire from Barn Babies. We socialize them so often that many families are attracted to our pets.
We are a USDA licensed business as an “animal exhibitor” which means many things, but relating to your question our USDA license means that we must track where every baby comes from and goes to, the state keeps track of all our babies & where they end up (as well as how they are taken care of when they are with us).