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Hennepin County, Minnesota
August 29, 2010
July 12, 2005
The park is easy to find, it's right off Highway 2, the main road in the area. It has a large sign and huge deer that mark the spot.
We parked and went in, we paid the $5 for adults and $4 for kids for admission. We also bought some food packed into ice cream cones to feed the wildlife. But before we entered the park we spent a few moments indoors to look at some of the lizards, snakes and rodents that were on display in the lobby.
The first group of animals we saw when we came out of the main building were monkeys in small cages. They had pipes going into the cages and you could drop a few pieces of food down to the waiting animals. My heart sank. These cages were small and the poor animals had a life of begging for food from tourists.
I was happier when we got into the main park where the deer roam free. It's a large area and the deer (and a llama and donkey), roamed free in a grassy area. They too were feed by the tourists, but could come up and beg or get away to a quiet part of the enclosure. This was the deer park I remembered as a boy. We spent a lot of time here. There were mothers and fawns and young bucks getting their first horns. It was fun for the kids to see the deer up close. We have plenty of deer in our backyard, but our kids would never imagine feeding them from their own hands.
Many of the deer were shedding and some had blood on their horns. I guess this was a post winter molt and growth, but I was not sure. The other part that I forgot, that was gross, was there was deer poop everywhere! My shoes were covered in the stuff!
On leaving we went by a few more cages. These were really sad. Here two wonderful black bears were stuffed into a cage and were forced to beg for food. There were also tigers, bobcats, raccoons and a mountain lion. All given small cages with cement floors. It was really heartbreaking.
I doubt if we will return to this park next year. Again, I loved the free roaming deer that you can pet. However, the other animals broke my heart - this was not the life nature had given them.
From journal Paul Bunyan and Japanese Camp - Bemidji, Minnesota