Sunday, August 24, 2008
Two new arrivals at Fairyland
Children's Fairyland in Oakland is celebrating the arrival of two new four-footed residents: Twinkle the lamb and Dori the Shetland pony.
Twinkle, who is only five months old, was slated for the slaughterhouse until Fairyland offered her a home. And she's already fitting in like an old-timer.
"She's as sweet as can be," said Yvonne Backman, Fairyland's animal caregiver. "Her mother rejected her at birth, so she was bottle fed, which means she really connects with humans."
Twinkle is so people-friendly, Fairyland is featuring her as the "Animal of the Day" on weekends, taking her out of the corral to the grassy area in front of the duck pond, where children can come up and pet her, up close and personal.
"She's so good with them," said Backman. "For her, it's a chance to do two of her favorite things at the same time - munch grass and get petted."
Dori, who is 13, is also wonderful with the little tykes.
"That's no surprise because she was the children's pony at the Chabot Equestrian Center for the last three years," Backman said. "And before that, her job was giving rides to disabled kids."
Despite her gentleness with children, Dori has a mind of her own when it comes to other animals.
"We call her 'the diva' because she likes to have things her way," said Backman. "For instance, Juan the alpaca always used to have his special 'pacing zone,' where he could have a clear view of the goats, whom he loves.
"But Dori likes that spot, too, because that's the main thoroughfare where people walk by the corral, and she loves to get petted. Needless to say, Dori has won that disagreement."
The only downside for Dori is that she's been put on a diet.
"She has a huge appetite, which is typical of Shetland ponies. But the vet says she needs to lose 50 pounds," Backman said.
Meanwhile, Dori and Twinkle's predecessors, Coco the pony and her totally devoted friend, Bobo the sheep, who delighted Fairyland's pint-sized visitors for 20 and 11 years, respectively, are enjoying their retirement at Goats 'R' Us in Briones.
"They've been sleeping outdoors from the day they got there, and loving every minute of it," said Backman. "They're not on a schedule; they come and go as they please. I think they're as happy in their new home as Twinkle and Dori are in theirs."
The best news for Coco is that she's made friends with three young stallions in the neighboring pasture.
"They only have eyes for her, and vice versa," Backman. "She spends a lot of time at the fence flirting with them - swishing her tail, strutting back and forth and calling to them. It's a real May-December romance."
This is Coco's first chance to bond with other equines since 2006, when the Oakland Police Department eliminated its mounted patrol unit, whose stables were located next to Fairyland in Lakeside Park. For years, Coco's best friend was a huge - 17 hands - thoroughbred named Sanchez.
"Every morning before the park opened, I'd let her out of her paddock, and she'd run over to the chain link fence separating us from the OPD stable," said Backman. "She and Sanchez would just stand there for hours, nuzzling noses through the fence. I'm glad to know she's going to have that kind of friendship again."
And how's Bobo doing?
"He doesn't care where he is, as long as he's with Coco. "