Location

11827 County Road 5
Winchester Springs, Ontario

Hours

Mon.: Private group tours
Tues.: Closed
Wed.–Fri.: 10am–3pm
Sat.–Sun.: 10am–4pm
Holiday Mondays: 10am–4pm

Call Today

(613) 222-5087

About The Barnyard Zoo

Our Story

Meet the Vanderlaan Family

Ruth and Tony Vanderlaan are the owners of Vanderlaand The Barnyard Zoo. They have been married for over 30 years and have five grown children and two grandsons.

Tony was born and raised on a dairy farm in Winchester, Ontario. He is the oldest of eight children and is a licensed carpenter. He is the backbone of the farm, building and maintaining everything as necessary. He works at Guildcrest Homes, and in his down time, leads the woodwork 4-H club and belongs to the toastmasters club.

Ruth, commonly known as ‘Farmer Ruth,’ is the ‘chief chorer’ and manages the social media and emails for the zoo. She has eight siblings and was raised on a beef farm in Portland, Ontario. She has been around animals her entire life, being active in 4-H clubs growing up, and even worked at Miller Brook Farms in her late teens. She graduated from the equine program at Humber College, and was working on a dairy farm near Ottawa when she met Tony.

Family & Farm

After they got married, Ruth and Tony settled on Tony’s family dairy farm. They had five kids in five years, the last two being twins. It was important to them to raise their children in the country, growing their own meat and eggs just as they had done growing up. When the dairy farm didn’t work out, they began their search for a suitable property to start a new farm.

Fortunately, they found such a property near Winchester Springs. They started their farm with only a few beef cows, a couple of chickens, and two goats. Ruth offered daycare services to help with expenses.

Family & Farm

After they got married, Ruth and Tony settled on Tony’s family dairy farm. They had five kids in five years, the last two being twins. It was important to them to raise their children in the country, growing their own meat and eggs just as they had done growing up. When the dairy farm didn’t work out, they began their search for a suitable property to start a new farm.

Fortunately, they found such a property near Winchester Springs. They started their farm with only a few beef cows, a couple of chickens, and two goats. Ruth offered daycare services to help with expenses.

Why a Petting Zoo?

Ruth and Tony didn’t set out with the intention of starting a petting zoo. While they were raising their kids, they acquired more and more types of animals, which required Tony to build a paddock, pens and buildings. On weekends, their kids would invite friends over and proudly give them a tour of the farm. The family also began selling animals, mainly chickens, bunnies, and guinea pigs.

What surprised the family most was when people began visiting randomly, thinking it was a petting zoo. When government regulations forced Ruth to downsize her daycare business, she realized she would need to find another way to make an income. That’s when the kids started begging their parents to turn their family farm into a petting zoo.

Shortly after that, in 2008, Vanderlaand The Barnyard Zoo was officially opened.