The Smoky Mountain Deer Farm and Exotic Petting Zoo, which is located about 30 minutes northeast of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, provides a rare opportunity to encounter and hand-feed many beautiful animals. Located on 143 acres in the rural Smoky Mountains foothills, this farm was established in 1989 and has many different types of animals for visitors to enjoy.
The farm’s setup allows guests to purchase admission and animal feed in the entrance/gift shop building and then walk outside to the barnyard style area housing the animals. The petting zoo, which is set up in a large loop, features a gravel path you follow to observe, feed, and pet the animals. Although you can hand-feed many of the animals, such as the camel and zebra, you are prohibited from feeding other animals such as the kangaroo and exotic cattle. Each animal’s pen has a sign giving you helpful instructions and there were several areas outside the pens to hold your animal feed cup should you need your hands free.
Visitors are welcome to enter the baby goat and deer pens and pet, play with, and feed these friendly animals. However, after managing my three young children in the pen full of baby goats, I opted to stay out of the deer pen. One of my toddlers laughed and giggled as the goats nibbled her dress and my other toddler and young child were scared and insisted on a quick exit. All three children loved feeding the goats from outside the goat pen, so much that they stopped to fill the little goat’s bellies again on our way out.
Other notable animals you will see include zonkies (zebra-donkey), Emu, miniature horses, reindeer, a draft horse, Watusi, Vietnamese pot-belled pigs, a camel, and Rocky Mountain Elk. Although the overall feel of the petting zoo is a bit tired, the animals appear to be cared for by the full time zookeeper staff and the company’s website reports that the animals receive regular veterinary check-ups.
Although I observed staff working in several of the animal pens, there were not staff actively circulating the petting zoo to assist guests during our visit. I was really wishing staff were readily available as I managed getting my kids in and out of the baby goat pen while at the same time trying to keep five eager baby goats from escaping. However, at the end of the day, we got what we came for: an unforgettable personal experience with friendly animals rarely seen outside the zoo. If our family returns to the exotic petting zoo, we will make sure to take two adults to maximize our young family’s enjoyment.
Although I was concerned that the 22 ounce cup of animal feed I purchased would not be sufficient, it was more than enough to give a nibble or two to each animal. Even though we did not take part in any activities outside the petting zoo and deer farm (which are one in the same), it is notable that the company also offers pony and horseback rides. Families with young children and animal lovers of all ages should definitely consider a trip to the Smoky Mountain Deer Farm and Exotic Petting Zoo.
Fawns and elk calves are born late May thru July – a real treat to see Do you want to see fawns and elk calves? Here’s your rare opportunity! Visit the Smoky Mountain Deer Farm between May and July to see these cute creatures.