Unlocal Petting Zoo
2:08 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Farm Animals: The Miami-Dade Youth Fair's Most Exotic Attraction

The Miami-Dade County Youth Fair opened its doors last Thursday, bringing back roller coasters, elephant ears and magic shows. But some of the attractions are not what we typically see in Miami.

Show-Me Safari Petting Zoo brings its animals to South Florida once a year for the Youth Fair -- all the way from East Prairie, Missouri.

Nathan Tidwell is the animals' caregiver. He's traveled with them to Miami for many years.

"Kids can come in and pet ‘em and feed ‘em," says Tidwell. "Animals that they wouldn't get to see on a everyday basis."

Tidwell says all of the animals come from Missouri, and not one of them is local. 

"Oh, you don't see this around town at all," says Sheri Virok, manager at University of Miami's benefits office. 

She brought her family to the petting zoo because she says, "From Miami, you see dogs and cats. That's it."

Mailenys Fuentes is a biology student at Florida International University.

"I came from Cuba when I was a little girl," she says. "I've always been around animals, so I think that it's wonderful that they always come."

Llamas, cows, alpacas, a tortoise, goats, pigs and even a Zedonk -- half zebra, half donkey -- all await their carrot treats from South Floridians.

But across from the petting zoo is the World of Agriculture Exhibit, where Miami's students enter their small animals to compete. Carol Douglass has been the competition director for 19 years. She says locals enter poultry and rabbits in the competitions.

"We're more of an urban city than anything else," she says. "What you'll get here is more fruits and vegetables and you'll get plants. That kind of thing."

Douglass says animals like steers, swine and open cattle are not from around here.

"The animals start from like [Lake] Okeechobee and go north," says Douglass.