Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

My favorite small scale Minnesota zoo June 23, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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I grew up on a dairy farmer, thus was excited to see these calves.

I grew up on a dairy farm and am always excited to see calves.

WITH SUMMER OFFICIALLY on the calendar, it’s the perfect time to take the kids or grandkids to the zoo. For many Minnesotans, that most likely would be the Minnesota Zoo or Como Park Zoo.

Just a small section of the Farm, which includes two barns.

Just a small section of the Farm, which includes two barns and a shelter available for rent, right.

But I’ve discovered a much smaller rural-themed zoo in Greater Minnesota that impresses me. And, bonus, no metro traffic or pressing crowds. Welcome to Sibley Farm at Sibley Park in Mankato. I’ve posted previously about this southern Minnesota zoo. But now seems a good time to showcase it again during peak season.

Kids can climb aboard this tractor and another on the adjoining playground.

Kids can climb aboard this tractor and another on the adjoining agriculturally-themed playground.

I last visited Sibley Farm on a cold and windy day in mid-May with minimal time to explore. Even with less than ideal weather, families were there enjoying the baby and other farm animals and the farm-themed playground.

The sheep were snuggling on the spring day I visited Sibley Farm.

The sheep were snuggling on the spring day I visited Sibley Farm.

It is the full-on rural aspect of this zoo which most appeals to me. Most families are so far removed from farm life today that they need this indirect exposure. Even kids who live in the country. Even those who live in Mankato, right in the heart of Minnesota farm land.

A shorn alpaca.

A shorn alpaca.

Sibley Farm provides a place to connect with and learn about farm life. It also preserves Minnesota’s rural heritage. That’s important. My own three grown kids are only a generation removed from the farm. Yet, their knowledge of farming is limited. It’s important to me that they recognize and value the rural heritage that shaped the Kletscher and Helbling families. I expect many farm-raised parents and grandparents feel the same. Sibley Farm is a great place to learn about farming in a fun and interactive way.

Sibley Farm includes a water feature complete with goldfish.

Sibley Farm includes a water feature complete with goldfish.

Tell me, what’s your favorite zoo and why?

FYI: Sibley Farm is located at 900 Mound Avenue, Mankato, within Sibley Park and is open from 6:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. daily mid-spring through early fall. Admission is free.

Besides the farm, Sibley Park offers softball fields, tennis courts, walking trails, lovely gardens, fishing, a winter sliding hill, poetry and more.

Click here to read my previous post about Sibley Farm. And click here to read a story about Sibley Park.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


21 Responses to “My favorite small scale Minnesota zoo”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    What a fun place. I remember your previous post about it and you know how much I love goats and alpacas. This is my kind of place without a doubt.

  2. Dan Traun Says:

    I am not a huge fan of zoos in general; I’d rather see wildlife in their natural habitat. This zoo, however, seem a bit different in that its focus is more on farming and livestock. I like the rural heritage preservation aspect as well.

  3. Brenda Boone Says:

    We were there yesterday with the kids! We go several times a year and the kids get very excited when they realize where we are as we drive in!

  4. treadlemusic Says:

    The “water feature” photo appears to have liquid silver/mercury in place of water!!! LUV that!!!!! The shorn pattern on the alpaca is so-o-o-o-o wonderful!!!!!! I know that a zoo fills certain/different ‘needs’ but my fondness for them is confined to my very early years visiting the Como Zoo. Since then I’ve had difficulty with the whole “cage concept” (even in the name of education). I do like visiting real, working farms that are patterned after the small diverse family farms of years previous. This type of a more “petting zoo” seems to hold more (education/exposure) value. IMHO

  5. I have fond memories of the MN Zoo and the Como Park Zoo growing up and into my 20’s taking my nephews there. I enjoyed the San Diego Zoo and the green space around it. I love living in a city with green spaces and the birdlife as well as the wildlife is pretty impressive. Happy Day – thanks for the farm fix this morning – made my day – Enjoy 🙂

  6. Kay Says:

    This is a really nice piece about Sibley Farm Park. My grandson is working there again this summer and really likes the people and the animals. I’m sending the link on to him and also to the city of Mankato. They should advertise this well. Thanks!

  7. hotlyspiced Says:

    Lovely! The animals are just gorgeous. What a wonderful time of year to be in your part of the world. I would love to visit this zoo xx

  8. Sue Ready Says:

    After the recent gorilla incident and toddler falling/climbing into its space more awareness needs to be raised in the eyes of public regarding safety. The cage thing is a bit troubling as an adult one looks at zoo concept differently than children. We lived very close to Como Zoo when my children were growing up. They never got tired of going there and popular place for field trips.

    • Yes, our perspectives change when we become adults. The gorilla-toddler incident proved a wake-up call on zoo safety for sure.

      I really like the educational and rural aspects of Sibley Farm. Animals are housed in barns and pens on farms, just as they are here at this farm/zoo.

  9. This is something I need to see before my kids start thinking that they are too old for the Zoo. Love that pretty calf. My favorite Zoo is the Omaha Zoo. I’d like to go back in the early spring

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