Story and photos by QUENTIN S. AGNELLO
When you picture a petting zoo, you imagine docile animals like goats and pigs, and not unusual species like capybara or emu.
At the Funny Foot Farm in Tucson, you can see them all – including ducks, porcupines, warthogs and even a kangaroo. This place is abundant with animals that some people have never seen before, let alone up close.
Kenneth McNeal, the owner and operator, says he started his business on a single purchase.
“We used to own a lizard and bug shop and one day we saw a wholesale listing for a capybara,” he said. “I asked my wife if she wanted one. When she said ‘Yes,’ that’s how it started.”
They have been operating for several years and even survived the economic downturn of the pandemic.
This month, they’re hosting a pumpkin patch alongside their routine petting zoo. There’s even a jumping castle for the kids.
You may find yourself asking, “How have I not heard of this place?” Well, its address near Ruthrauff Road and I-10 puts it in a rather “out-of-the-way” spot for most people who like to explore the city.
As someone who has been there more than once, I can say it is a unique and worthwhile experience. You can even get up close and personal with some animals you’d never imagine touching.
McNeal said that he loves his job.
“I used to make a lot more money as a programmer, but money is not important,” he said. “Happiness is more important than money. Trust me.”