Animal attractions date back to the beginnings of amusements when they were part of fairs featuring livestock exhibitions. At the turn of the 20th century as amusement parks developed, often animal attractions were part of the entertainment, either as zoos, shows, or as areas of tame animals (often babies) which could be petted and/or fed. Theme parks often adopted these attractions when they were developed in the 1960's and 70's as attractions for the youngest visitors.
|1976 and 1977 Map
the first attractions envisioned as part of Great Adventure was an area
of tame animals that could be fed and touched by guests as part of the
"Over the Rainbow" theme park. As plans were condensed due to time and
budget restraints, the idea of a petting area was included in plans for
Great Adventure's Enchanted Forest theme park in an area called Happy
Feeling. The Happy Feeling area was short lived lasting only for the
1974 and 75 seasons and was removed when the park's entrance was
relocated for the 1976 season.
The maps of the park for 1976 and 1977 showed the Pet-A-Pet area in the back of the new Kiddie Kingdom area of the park as a relocation of the original petting zoo. The attraction was introduced for two seasons as a less formal petting area and after a one season omission in 1978, Pet-A-Pet reopened in 1979 as a new attraction.
The small petting zoo was located at the edge of the park and along the edge of the parking lot, so many guests first impression of the park while Pet-A-Pet was there (especially on hot days) was somewhat fragrant. With all of the feeding that the animals got throughout the day, their "output" was quite high, so it was a never-ending battle to keep the area clean throughout the day.
Throughout the seasons, the animals in Pet-A-Pet stayed pretty much the
same with goats as the primary species, sometimes also featuring sheep,
donkeys, pigs and even baby camels. Generally the animals came in as
babies in the spring and were retired at the end of the season as they
got too big and aggressive to be around small children. Food was
available, and the animals generally went straight for any children who
had food, sometimes knocking them over in their zeal to get at the food.
Parents often worried about the safety of their children with the
animals, and likewise the animals safety was a concern with guests
sometimes feeding them park food instead of the feed offered.
For park employees, being assigned to work at Pet-A-Pet was generally a dreaded job. Often, the staff was comprised of the newest and youngest staff members in the children's area, with 15 year olds bearing the brunt of the Pet-A-Pet duties. The job was tedious, with little shade on hot days, and requiring vigilance over all the animals as they interacted with children. The double gates generally kept the animals inside the yard, but occasionally one would slip out between children and would require rounding up.
part of working in the Pet-A-Pet area was the constant sweeping of the
"pellets" left behind by the animals. It was a dirty, smelly job
that few wanted to do.
With the transformation of the children's area to Bugs Bunny Land in 1988, Pet-A-Pet was removed to expand the rides area.
It wouldn't be until the 2011 season that the park would have an animal interaction area like Pet-A-Pet again when the former Temple of the Tiger area was converted to Safari Discoveries and pigs and goats were introduced again in an area where guests could pet and feed them.
|Pet-A-Pet Names Through the Years
|1976, 1977, & 1979 - 1983:
|1985 - 1987: Porky Pig
|Above & Below: Pet-A-Pet
Right: 1979 Promotional Pamphlet