Every once in a while, I get a note asking about a good place to go feed the ducks around the South Sound. The short answer? There isn’t one.
Why not? In a word: Poop. I have two boys, so I guess it was inevitable that I resorted to potty talk here….Anyway, while there is more to it than that, the simple answer to why you shouldn’t take the kids to feed ducks, geese, or any other wild animal, is that when they consume a bunch of people food, they do a bunch of pooping, which can be a major source of pollution for water and a threat to the health of people and pets, too. Animals who are fed people food also change their behaviors-in some cases becoming downright aggressive. There have also been problems with serious over population and disease outbreaks. I know-yuck.
If all that doesn’t convince you, you should know that Metro Parks Tacoma is getting serious about fining folks who don’t listen, with tickets of more than 500.00. Wowza! While they likely don’t have the staffing to issue tickets, I think you’ll find that the rules are the same in basically every other city and parks system. Yes, I know, you see people doing it at lakes all around here, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, right?
Now, before you accuse me of being the fun police, I have a whole list of places around the South Sound where the kids can get up close with animals (and sometimes feed ’em) without posing any risk to their health or your wallet!
The Pt.Defiance Zoo-In the animal encounter section, kids can feed the goats for .50 (Thanks to reader, Meredith for the correction on the price). Always fun, and I’ve never seen the goats not hungry! Kids can also feed the budgies for 1.00. This is an amazing experience, but go early in the day while they’re still hungry. Zoo admission is spendy, so SFM recommends investing in the pass once a year.
Old McDebbie’s Farm/Jim’s U-Fish Spanaway-I have never been here, but it looks fun, and while you may not be able to feed the animals, there are plenty you can pet. Do note that it’s only open on the weekends, and the pricing has a lot of add-ons.
Terry’s Berries River Road Terry’s is a real, working farm. You can stop in during open hours to give yourself a self-guided tour. Poke your head in the store and see if they have stale bread or old lettuce you can feed the chickens. They may also let you feed the ducks or geese. We love Terry’s, but please remember this is a family run, working farm. If you go during share pick-up they’ll be busy, so don’t expect anyone to drop everything and show you around.
Bill’s Fishin’ Hole Orting This is primarily a u-fish place, but they also have some farm animals. On the occasions we’ve been here, the kids have been allowed to feed the fish. Note that you will feel like you are driving to the end of the earth getting here, and wear boots as there are the stinkiest puddles ever! Also, if your kids are planning to take home a big-one, be prepared to deal with that. I was a little shocked when we went here with Henry’s preschool, and they wanted me to dispatch a fish.
Mary Olson Farm in Auburn This is a restored farm house that is now part of the Auburn parks system. It’s a terrific, little spot to visit for a taste of what life used to be like. It’s open and free Saturdays and Sundays, and we’ve been able to feed the chickens every time we’ve gone.
Morris’s Shadow Mountain Auburn-First off, this spot is on Groupon, or Groupon Now a Lot. Whatever you do, don’t pay full price! I haven’t mentioned it before, because the reviews are really mixed-like love it or hate it, mixed. But, if you’ve got a spirit of adventure (and a Groupon!) they have a petting zoo, and you may get to do some animal feeding. If you’re the coordinator for a mom’s group or preschool, The Little Farm at Windwater is also in Auburn, and while it isn’t open to the public, it’s a great spot for field trips.
Lattin’s Country Cider Mill, Olympia This spot is known more for apples and pumpkins, but it’s open year round with farm animals the kids can pet and feed.
In keeping with the spirit of this site, I’ve stuck to South Sound locations, but you’re welcome to share animal encounters worth a little road trip-or any South Sound spots I missed.
You might also like my post on the Wild Side Pet store in the Summit area (ignore the beginning of this post. It’s an older one).
Need fun right now? Hover over the Summer Fun link in the menu bar for all you need for South Sound summer fun in one spot. I also have lots of fun ideas for you and the kids in What Sounds Fun This Week.