Up Close and Personal With Animals
Children love petting and feeding creatures of all sorts
Whether it’s petting the dog, playing with the cat or feeding the fish, children love the interaction they get with pets. What’s also fun is when they get to enjoy this type of interaction at a petting zoo or fish and turtle pond. Children find it exciting to have farm animals such as goats, cows and pigs eat out of their hand. And they love tossing pellets into a pond to watch turtles and fish take a bite. These are good opportunities for youngsters to learn a little bit about animals’ natural habitats, their dietary needs, and of course, what treats they really love. “My children love animals, so any time they can pet or feed them, it’s a bigger bonus than just seeing them,” says William Marks of Cape Coral. He often takes his two young children to Mike Greenwell’s Bat-A-Ball & Family Fun Park in Cape Coral to feed the fish and turtles, and enjoy its midway rides. The park is known for its mini-golf, batting cages, arcade, go-karts and restaurant—and, of course, co-owner Mike Greenwell, who played left field with the Boston Red Sox. However, this fun park also offers a fish and turtle pond, and nearby are coin-operated vending machines with feed for the animals. The food can be tossed from the deck into the pond. There are a variety of fish and softshell turtles, along with ducks and other aquatic birds that sometimes come for a visit—who all love to quickly gobble up the feed. There is no admission fee. At The IMAG History & Science Center in Fort Myers, children can learn about history and science—and they can also learn about animals such as snakes and lizards during the live “Animal Encounters” that are offered several times a day. In addition, the museum has a “SEAto-See” touch tank and children can enjoy interactions with stingrays, horseshoe crabs, sea stars, marine snails and more. During the “Stingray Feed,” the stingrays can be fed out of one’s hand for a $3 charge. Out back, there’s a pond with turtles, fish and ducks, and feed vending machines. The museum admission fee is $10 for children and students; $14 for adults and $12 for people age 55 and older. Children age 2 and under are free. Along with its restaurants, gift shops and regular events, the Shell Factory & Nature Park of North Fort Myers offers several opportunities to feed animals and marine life. There is a pond in the midway area where fish, turtles and ducks can be fed. For a quarter kids can buy a handful of feed from vending machines.