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The Toledo Zoo Opens its Barnyard

A new attraction showcases rare heritage breeds found down on the farm. It will ultimately be expanded into a full petting zoo and feeding experience.

Old McDonald had his farm, and now the Toledo Zoo & Aquarium does, too. The July 1 public opening of the Nancy L. Martin Davidson Barnyard brings 40 new animals to the zoo, including two alpacas, six sheep, five goats, three pigs and multiple chickens. Although the exhibit features animals traditionally seen in petting zoos, the Toledo Zoo attraction showcases rare breeds.

“The one uncommon breed of pig that we have is the Mangalitsa pig … aka a ‘wooly pig.’ They’re a heritage breed,” says zookeeper Adam Haynes. "There’s a blonde, a swallow belly (which is like a white and black pig) and a red pig. So, we have three different morphs of the same breed.”

Haynes notes that the pigs are intelligent, too, going so far as to say they are as smart if not smarter than your average dog. He adds that zoo visitors will enjoy seeing the animals because they are still young and very playful.

“I think we might be able to incorporate a little bit of agricultural history into the theme of the exhibit,” he says. “With the pigs being a heritage breed, they’re not really very common anymore in agriculture, so it’ll be fun to learn about them for the public.”

Haynes also notes that the zoo has three unique chicken breeds that will likely be free roaming: Silkie, Salmon Faverolle (a French breed) and Brahma chickens.

Although the zoo reopened to members, June 12, the general public will be able to reserve tickets to visit the zoo beginning July 1. (Reserved tickets aren't required, but the zoo's capacity will still be limited.) Please note, the new exhibition will start as a viewing experience and slowly build toward becoming a petting zoo as well as feeding experience. 2 Hippo Way, Toledo 43609, 419/385-5721,

Get a sneak peek of the wooly pigs at The Nancy L. and Martine Davidson Barnyard here.