Friday, July 16, 1999

Noah's Ark animals range to exotic

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        PERSIMMON GROVE — There are at least two of almost every animal at Noah's Ark Farm in rural Campbell County, and the children who visit here can pet almost all of them.

        Noah's Ark Farm is the creation of former thoroughbred horse trainers Wanda Wanner and her husband, Buddy Teke. It's not a working farm but rather a giant petting zoo and source of education about animals and their care.

        John and Lori Biskup of Chicago visited the farm Thursday with their two youngsters, 4-year-old Tessa and Nicholas, who is 11/2. They couldn't believe how much fun they had.

        “This is just wonderful,” Mrs. Biskup said while the kids were riding ponies inside a large horse barn, led by Ms. Wanner and Mr. Teke. “What a treasure. The children just love it. They've been able to pet and feed animals they've never seen before.”

        The Biskup family was en route to a vacation on North Carolina's Outer Banks when they spied the bright blue sign on the AA Highway (Ky. 9) and followed the arrows to the farm. After spending a couple of hours there, including a picnic lunch, they said they wanted to come back some day.

        Noah's Ark Farm, on about 10 acres off Kohler Road, features nearly 150 animals of 35 species, everything from ducks, geese, turkeys and chickens to an African Watusi bull, a miniature Zebus bull from India, five emus (large flightless birds similar to ostriches), two llamas, and an assortment of baby pigs, goats, sheep, etc., etc.

        After 15 years working with thoroughbreds at race tracks including Turfway, River Downs, Churchill Downs and Arlington Park in Chicago, Ms. Wanner worked at the Kahn's plant in Campbell County until shoulder surgery forced her to look for something else.

        “Buddy is retired because of a disability, and we decided we wanted to do something that involved animals because both of us have worked with animals for years,” she said.

        After buying the 10 acres just below her parents' 41-acre farm where she grew up, Ms. Wanner and her husband began the task of rounding up animals while converting the mostly-wooded land to a farm setting complete with barns, a pond and several fenced areas.

        “We already had a lot of animals, and we were able to find others,” she said. “Sometimes, people just gave them to us. We have an area in the main barn that is our maternity row. We have a number of baby goats and pigs that the children can feed with a bottle.”

        Visitors arriving at Noah's Ark Farm are usually greeted by Jake, a big brown mixed-breed dog who seems to love everyone and enjoys playing soccer with kids. “He's our official welcome center,” Mr. Teke said with a laugh.

        There's also a blue macaw (a large parrot) that can do tricks and talk. Mr. Teke used to train various types of parrots for Disney and Busch Gardens in Florida, and the macaw is his latest effort.

        Ms. Wanner said she hopes the children (and adults) who visit the farm take away a better understanding of what is involved in caring for farm animals. And she hopes they come back and tell their friends.

        The farm also offers a “country getaway,” overnight or weekend stays in a new house with a back deck that offers an impressive view of the farm and surrounding hills.

        “We live on the lower level, and we rent the upstairs,” Mr. Teke explained. “We supply everything but food. It's not a bed-and-breakfast, but all you have to do is prepare your own meals. It's $75 a day per couple, and $10 extra per child.”

        As they prepared to leave Noah's Ark Farm for the Atlantic Ocean, the Biskups said they were considering stopping on the return trip and spending a night.

        IF YOU GO

        • What: Noah's Ark Farm, a petting and information zoo featuring farm animals.

        • Where: Kohler Road, off Ky. 10 in the Persimmon Grove area of Campbell County.

        • Admission: $3; $2 for children's pony rides, $10 for a 30-minute horse trail ride (adults).

        • Hours: Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or by appointment for parties. Call (606) 635-0803 for more information.

        • Directions: From Interstate 275, take the AA Highway (Ky. 9). Turn right on California Cross Road West, then left on Ky. 10, then right on Kohler Road. Signs and arrows point the way from Ky. 9.


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