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 Post subject: Invited to Farm with Petting Zoo, birthday?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:34 pm 
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Tofu Pup
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I come begging your wisdom yet again, PPKers.

My daughter (and I) have been invited to a children's birthday party. At a working farm. Ugh.

As far as I know, there will be a petting zoo, but no pony rides. (Thank goodness.)

So, if it was ANYONE else inviting us, I would have politely declined and mumbled something about family plans that day, but the person hosting/inviting us is also the mother that I nanny for. My boss, basically.

I REALLY don't want to lie to her and (COWARDICE!) I don't really want to tell her why I don't want to go. She knows we're vegan, but I don't think she sees the conflict of interests and I don't want to seem snobby or rude. It was very kind of her to invite us.

I know my daughter would have fun, as she loves animals and she's very good friends with the birthday child, but I would feel pretty crappy about it considering the animals she would be petting are going to end up on somebody's plate at some point.

What would YOU do? Would you make up some imaginary event that you already planned for that day? Would you be up front with your boss? Or would you just go and explain (in an age-appropriate way, my daughter is 3) why, even though it's fun to pet the animals, we don't normally go to places like that because of what happens to the animals? (At home after the party, of course.)

Thanks in advance guys!


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 Post subject: Re: Invited to Farm with Petting Zoo, birthday?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2014 8:43 pm 
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That sucks. I completely understand the difficulty with it being work related. My personal approach is to be completely honest and politely decline if it doesn't involve my career, and if it does, to lie and just say we can't make it for some other reason. My partner and I are not okay with zoo/petting zoo situations, but other vegan families might be. Not trying to tell you what you must do, but if it makes you feel less freakish for being adamant on this, then great!


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 Post subject: Re: Invited to Farm with Petting Zoo, birthday?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2014 9:59 pm 
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I am with moooo, but only because petting zoos make me so sad. I took L (then nearly 2) to a farm and was surprised to find they had a petting zoo. She was over the moon and loved it, but I felt so sad for the animals.

I wouldn't take a three year old and explain afterwards why we don't normally go to places like that, because I would think that she wouldn't really get it and would also be likely to say something to her friend/your boss at an inopportune moment. I also wouldn't say anything to my boss, unless I thought they were really open to reconsidering the party, which may not be possible if the venue is already booked etc. So I'd be making up an imaginary event and making my excuses or having my child be "sick" on the day of the party.

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 Post subject: Re: Invited to Farm with Petting Zoo, birthday?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:20 am 
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Thank you so much for responding, guys. :)

I agree with both of you, and Tofulish you're right, she probably wouldn't get it and that would be way confusing for a 3 year old.

I feel bad for not being honest, because she's so sweet. But it does seem like the only way to go. Oh well, I guess I'll have a "baby shower" or something to go to that day. ;)

Thanks again!! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Invited to Farm with Petting Zoo, birthday?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 8:04 pm 
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I'll be the dissenting opinion. I actually had my kid's 3rd birthday party at a farm last October! That's because they have all kinds of fun games and food set up for fall festival at that time - like a water pump thingey that races rubber ducks, wooden trees w/ apples, ride-on diggers & tractors, bouncy castle...etc.

Yes, they have a petting zoo too but I guess it just doesn't bother me that much. I want my kid to be able to see and pet animals so he can come to love them the way I do. I think he's growing up in a non-vegan world with all kinds of even worse omnivore-related things (like thanksgiving "turkey day" parties at daycare) so you certainly can't avoid everything. I don't see petting a goat or two as that big of a deal as long as we don't eat them.

I would honestly feel worse if my kid missed a good friend's party just because of that. It is almost like not letting him go to a party just because they'll be eating non-vegan food. He'd miss out on way too much if I was that strict!

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 Post subject: Re: Invited to Farm with Petting Zoo, birthday?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:05 pm 
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I think it really depends on the place. The farm that does my local CSA has a small petting zoo area with a handful of goats. They have large enclosures with these really cool climbing apparatuses. The pens are very clean, the kids can't go right in with the goats to potentially harass them (or be harassed) and the goats aren't over crowded. The farm sells veggies and beef but no goat products and I found out these guys were adopted from a closing farm. I worked for a travelling petting zoo as a teenager (ugh) and from what I've seen, this place is as good as anyone could ask for in terms of a petting zoo. Obviously not the norm, unfortunately.

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 Post subject: Re: Invited to Farm with Petting Zoo, birthday?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 5:17 am 
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In this case, I don't think I'd have strong feelings either way. Would I hold my daughter's birthday at a farm with a petting zoo? No. Have we been to farms I discovered, once there, had petting zoos? Yes--in recent years they seem to have become a ubiquitous part of pumpkin farms and U-pick apple orchards for some reason. And sometimes we're with omni groups that want to visit it, and we'll go along. Probably the birthday party is paid for whether you're there or not, and so I guess I don't see it as doing that much marginal harm by going. Yes, the animals are penned in, but the same thing seems to be the case at sanctuaries I've visited.

If you're not comfortable with it, though, don't go! Since it's a professional contact I wouldn't make a big deal of it as a vegan issue, just say you can't make it.


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 Post subject: Re: Invited to Farm with Petting Zoo, birthday?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:48 am 
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annak wrote:
Yes, the animals are penned in, but the same thing seems to be the case at sanctuaries I've visited.


We go to an amazing local sanctuary, and the difference to me, is not that the animals are penned in, but that at the petting zoo you have so many babies who should be with their mothers, or animals with overgrown hooves etc, who just aren't very healthy.

Everyone has to make their own calls about this stuff - I agree that if a petting zoo had a well-cared for flock of animals it is far less upsetting than seeing what I've seen - animals in spaces that are too tight and without proper resources (ducks and pigs in tiny cages), unhealthy animals (esp with overgrown hooves, where you can tell walking is uncomfortable), and lots of little babies taken from their mothers (I saw a bunch of calves looking so lost, it was heartbreaking).

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 Post subject: Re: Invited to Farm with Petting Zoo, birthday?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 2:45 pm 
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Re talking to your 3 year old, kids area ready at different ages. My niece's son just had his 3rd birthday, and somehow it came up that they were eating meat from a pig. He hadn't made the connection before that meat came from animals and was horrified. I don't know if they'll keep it up, but he says he doesn't want to eat meat anymore and my niece seems willing to cater to him. She works for a local humane society and has volunteered/worked for wildlife sanctuaries in the past, but has no interest in being veg herself.

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 Post subject: Re: Invited to Farm with Petting Zoo, birthday?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:56 pm 
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Aubade wrote:
I'll be the dissenting opinion. I actually had my kid's 3rd birthday party at a farm last October! That's because they have all kinds of fun games and food set up for fall festival at that time - like a water pump thingey that races rubber ducks, wooden trees w/ apples, ride-on diggers & tractors, bouncy castle...etc.

Yes, they have a petting zoo too but I guess it just doesn't bother me that much. I want my kid to be able to see and pet animals so he can come to love them the way I do. I think he's growing up in a non-vegan world with all kinds of even worse omnivore-related things (like thanksgiving "turkey day" parties at daycare) so you certainly can't avoid everything. I don't see petting a goat or two as that big of a deal as long as we don't eat them.

I would honestly feel worse if my kid missed a good friend's party just because of that. It is almost like not letting him go to a party just because they'll be eating non-vegan food. He'd miss out on way too much if I was that strict!



i have to agree with this one. i guess everyone probably has different thoughts on this but i agree with Aubade. i personally woulnt have much of an issue with it. i dont think petting zoo animals end up on peoples' plates either???? usually they are just overfed and lazy. not the best life but still better than a factory farm animal.

depending on how old the kid is it can also be a teaching moment.

for me personally (and i totally get that other people may have the opposite opinion and thats cool too!) id feel bad not letting my kid go and feeling like im ostracizing her especially if she was too young to understand.

then again all the petting zoos ive seen have been really not so bad i guess maybe i would research ahead of time what the petting zoo part was like.

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 Post subject: Re: Invited to Farm with Petting Zoo, birthday?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 1:50 pm 
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I agree that this wouldn't bother me. I wouldn't pay for my kids to go to something like this, but going to a friends party, that is going to happen regardless, can really be a teachable moment. I think at least a few times, it's important for kids to see animals in these situations, so when you talk about (Later! after the party!) why it's bad for the animals, they can have concrete visuals and understand a little clearer. I've taken my kids to the free day at the (local, horrid) zoo here just so they could see exactly why it's so terrible. Shae was so moved by the treatment of the animals there, that he has helped a few times with petitions against the zoo buying more animals. Kids are very visual and I think it's a good thing to help them fully understand why we do what we do and why we have to care and speak out for the animals.

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 Post subject: Re: Invited to Farm with Petting Zoo, birthday?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 5:07 pm 
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My kids have gone to farm/zoo/horse riding bday parties/fieldtrips. My daughter's 1st grade is going to a veggie and plant farm for a field trip. They have animals there but I don't think they are raised for meat. She's going to go. Telling her she can't go with all of her friends would destroy her.

The bday party is going to happen regardless of your opinions on it and if she is really close to the birthday kid I would just let her go.

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 Post subject: Re: Invited to Farm with Petting Zoo, birthday?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 8:53 pm 
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Yes, thats a good point - if Leela wanted to go, I'd probably just see if my partner could take her and if not, I'd just swallow my discomfort. But at 2.5, she's not really voicing those opinions, so I'd rather not go.

Even apart from the meat issues though, for me most petting zoos don't keep their animals in good conditions. Richfield Farms near us has their rabbits in tiny, uncleaned, wire cages so children can pet at them, they don't have any solid places to put their feet. Black Oak Farm in Wayne left their bunnies out to freeze over the winter, and refused to call the vet, even after being called out on FB. And Demarest Farms and the other one that we went to accidentally, all had animals that were really young and taken from their mothers and sick.

We really love for the Animals sanctuary, just because you can tell how well cared for the animals are. Their personalities shine through. I wish Catskills and Woodstock were closer as well

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 Post subject: Re: Invited to Farm with Petting Zoo, birthday?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 8:23 pm 
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I could be wrong in this assumption, but the party is at a working farm, where they sell all kinds of meat (and veggies). So I assumed that they probably use the babies for the petting zoo and then kill them when they're older. I've never been there and they don't really specify on their website, so they could potentially have separate animals. Either way, they raise and slaughter animals. So I would feel in some way like I was supporting that.

My daughter is just starting to understand birthday parties, so she doesn't show much concern for going or not going. When she gets older, it will definitely be up to her and I will support her decisions. But at 3 years old, I feel comfortable making the decision for her. It's the same way I feel about choosing not to feed her meat/dairy, I will continue with my decision until/unless she decides to take another path.

I really appreciate all the responses! It's great to get different sides of the issue. (And just to know that I'm not the only one who has to make these decisions!) :)


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 Post subject: Re: Invited to Farm with Petting Zoo, birthday?
PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2014 10:34 am 
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For me, it would totally depend on the location. It it were clean and the animals were well cared for, I think it could be another way to instill love and respect for animals. Maybe, depending on your child's age, it could also initiate a conversation about how animals should be treated, is it nice to keep them in cages, etc. Kids are remarkably sensitive and perceptive about things like that. I was at a street fair the other day and the Girl Scouts were handing out PETA coloring books. My son is only 3.5 and can't read yet, but just from looking at the pictures he got the idea that the baby elephant was sad because she was in a cage and couldn't find her family.


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 Post subject: Re: Invited to Farm with Petting Zoo, birthday?
PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2014 12:37 pm 
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LisaPunk wrote:
i dont think petting zoo animals end up on peoples' plates either???? usually they are just overfed and lazy. not the best life but still better than a factory farm animal.

I don't know what I would do in this situation. The closest I've come is helping a friend clear her land after a flood. I just couldn't help with cleaning out the chicken coops or rabbit habitat because I know she eats them.

But I did want to say, these animals can end up on plates. Petting farm goats are a big source of halal goat meat here in Texas, for instance. Not many people raise/slaughter this kind of meat here, so there's more demand than supply. Petting farms that mostly have baby animals are likely sending them off to slaughter when they get big, too.


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 Post subject: Re: Invited to Farm with Petting Zoo, birthday?
PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 1:44 pm 
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Seems like this kind of thing is showing up more often in my life now that my son is three. This past weekend we purchased tickets for a Thomas the Train event, and when we got there we found out there was a petting zoo. I don't want my money supporting animal exploitation, but I didn't know the petting zoo was going to be there. It was mostly goats, with a few enormous chickens and one turkey. I told my son that the animals don't like to be all cooped up together, so he hopefully wouldn't get the impression it was an awesome situation. He wasn't even really that interested. Then one of the people running it asked me if I wanted to buy a goat :(

If it were a situation of a necessary birthday party, I guess I would go if I had to. And I would do my best to explain to my kid that the animals aren't really happy being overfed and touched all day long, cramped up in the heat.


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