Friday, February 27, 2015

Critter Capers 1 – Having Fun with Critters from the Zoo



OK, today let’s have some fun with creating characters using some of the animals from The Thwarting of Mr. Dingsnapple. It’s such fun to invent characters, create a world about them and write a little on it. Let your creative juices flow!


Who can join the fun? If you can read this blog and type, you can join us.


  • Choose any picture you like (or all three if you want).


Tell us about it.  Write a few sentences and see what you can create.

  1. Give each character a name.
  2. What are they doing?
  3. Why are they doing what they are doing?
  4. How are they feeling about it?
    Want to know more about Creating a Character? Go to:
    Post your work in “comments” so everyone can share!


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Magic the Mini Horse


Here is a picture of Magic, our mini horse. He was 27 ½ inches at the shoulders. That’s about the size of a Labrador retriever. His breeders told me he missed the Guinness’s World Record as the smallest horse in the world by ¾ inch.

The man in the picture had built this wagon for his dog to pull. When my mom saw it in his front yard, she knocked on the door and told him her daughter had a horse that could pull it.  He couldn’t believe it until he brought the wagon out to the house. We bought the wagon on the spot.  When we had birthday parties at the zoo, Magic would give very small children a ride. 

I wish I had a better photo, but all I have is this one. It is PhotoShopped from an old Polaroid print.

My husband Joe, drove to Pennsylvania to bring him home. Magic rode in the back of our station wagon. Joe said he sure did get funny looks with a horse in the back of the car!

You should have seen the look on our farrier’s (blacksmith) face the first time he came out to show me how to trim Magic’s hooves. He was so short we had to build a ramp so he could walk up onto our dog grooming table to get his hooves trimmed. Otherwise, we had to sit on the ground, and that was too awkward. From the ground to his belly, Magic’s little legs were only about six inches long. His hooves were about the size of the palm of my hand.

Magic was very funny. He loved food. About the only time he would gallop was when he thought he might get something to eat.  Magic had free run of our compound. We had to fence off all the feeding stations to keep him from over eating.  If someone accidently left a gate open, he would gallop for it to get to the food. It didn’t matter chicken food was just as good has horse food.

If I saw him, I would yell, “Magic!  No! No! No!” and run as hard as I could to try to beat him to the gate. Sometimes I would win, but sometimes he would win. If he got there first, he would gobble the chicken feed as fast as possible before I could pull him away.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Book Review Joe Redick

Hello Readers,
I just received this review from Joe Redick.

"Gentle people;

Please be advised that it was an honor to work with Linda Anderson. She is an inspiring new author who has the talent and ability to weave magic into a story. Ms. Anderson has created a masterpiece on a child's level. It is wonderful to think of parents reading this children's book, filled with universal truth, to shiny-eyed children. As a theatrical lighting designer, I must say that it would be wonderful to see it staged some day, as a play.

Many kind regards,
J.M. Redick, MFA, Design and Technical Theatre"

Monday, July 16, 2012

FAQ – Do Wild Animals Make Good Pets?

Absolutely not!

To start with, you need to understand that I did not deliberately take wild animals for pets. When they came my way, it was because for various reasons, they could not survive on their own.  Either they were orphaned babies, they had some sort of injury that would make living in the wild impossible, or they had been confiscated by the Game Warden and brought to me for care.  I had the authority to take such animals because of my U.S.D.A. License to do so.  Most states require a permit of some sort to keep wild animals in captivity.  I also worked in direct cooperation with the Auburn University Veterinary Clinic and spent some time in training at their Raptor Barn.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

FAQ - What’s the saddest thing about being a zookeeper?

Linda and a Yearling Doe

Without a doubt, it was always the death of an animal.  I was always upset when something died.  Sometimes death just happens. An animal is old or has developed an incurable condition. Some species, like hamsters and mice, have very short life spans. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

FAQ - What’s your favorite thing about being a zookeeper?

Gosh, that’s hard to say.  There are many different aspects that I found satisfying and rewarding. Of course, having animals happy and content enough to breed and produce babies was thrilling. I just loved baby anythings.  When the critters in your care are producing lots of babies, that usually means contented critters.

As a teacher, I couldn’t help but teach.  The zoo gave me a forum for telling people about the amazing and wonderful world of animals. No matter who came, regardless of their age or background, I always had something to teach them. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

FAQ - What is body space?

Every living creature, including man, has a body space.  This is rather like an invisible line that separates you from danger.  If you step across that animal’s line, it will step back. Some animals will flee from you if you cross that line. If they can’t flee, may will panic and attack to defend themselves.

Some animals have a narrow body space, some animals have a wide body space. It’s kind of like a safety zone.  In other words, if an animal is a prey animal (food for other animals) it has a very wide body space. Predators often have a narrow body space.  But it really depends on the situation.  The bigger the threat you are to the animal, the bigger its body space.

 As a zookeeper, you need to understand the body space and the nature of every species in your care.  You must also build up a trust relationship with every animal. You must never threaten them or make them fearful, but respect their space.  This takes a bit of talent and a lot of understanding.

Along with body space, eye contact is crucial. To most animals, a direct stare is extremely threatening.  If you are a prey animal, just having someone stare at you can make you nervous.  In other words, if you are being stared at, you are being stalked. If you are being stalked, someone is considering killing and eating you.  For most animals, that’s what life is all about, eating or being eaten.

I’ll give you an example. We purchased a small flock of pygmy goats.  Unlike my first two who were very tame pets, these goats had been used merely as bush goats, to keep a field mowed.  They had not been handled, petted or tamed.  Then suddenly, they had been brought to our farm and thrust into a strange pen. it was nothing at all like their home. 

For days they fled when I approached and would bawl and trample each other to get away from me as I raked their pen. They spent their time huddled in a corner.  I knew this had to change, and quickly before they injured themselves.  I used food as an incentive.  They got a small ration of hay, not enough to starve them, but I wanted them hungry. 

Now, I happen to know that a goat’s most favorite food in the world is sweet feed.  It is an assortment of grains soaked in molasses. Several times a day I would enter their pen with a small bucket of sweet feed. As usual, they would bawl and flee.  At first I would squat down, making myself smaller and talking in a quiet voice. I would rattle the can. They would stop bawling and stare at me, ready to bolt at the slightest wrong move.

Carefully, I would lay belly down, reducing the threat even more. Throughout this process, I would not look at them (staring is a threat). I would peek from the corner of my eye. Before long they would relax a bit.  At that time their body space was a good thirty feet wide.  Slowly, I would take a handful of sweet feed and open it in my flattened palm.  I would reach out as far as my arm would go.  Before long, the enticement of sweet feed, coupled with my very non-threatening body language would allow them to relax a bit more.  A few of the goats would begin to approach. Some would dart past me to another part of the pen. I did not flinch or move, just hold still and keep up a soft monotone of speech.   

After several days of this procedure, one little goat, more bold than the rest, couldn’t resist the temptation.  She crept closer and closer. It took her several minutes to summon the courage, but finally she snatched a mouthful of sweet feed and bolted away.  That was all it took. She immediately came back and snatched another mouthful and quickly finished every bit in my hand.  I knew I had won her over when she licked my fingers for every little crumb! When the others saw that she had not been eaten by the big stranger, their own desire for sweet feed overcame their fear. 

Within the week every goat in the pen crowded around for their daily treat. I had established a ground rule for them. You don’t get sweet feed unless you take it from my hand.  One goat who was extremely shy, took several weeks before she would finally eat from my hand. 

To some, this might seem like a lot of trouble. But as a zookeeper I had to consider the needs of my critters. Through no choice of their own, they were thrust into an alien environment, full of unknown threats and dangers. They needed to become tame and trust me, not only for the sake of the zoo patrons, but for their own safety and protection.  In the event of a serious injury or medical emergency, they needed to trust me enough to take care of them and heal their hurts. If they had continued to stay wild, then in their panic to escape, they could have faced more harm and injury.

If you have any questions about being a zookeeper, about my zoo Storybook Farm Petting Zoo, about animals, or about The Thwarting of Mr. Dingsnapple, please ask!