Peek-A-Boo Petting Zoo shows growth in past 7 years
Cherokee Nation citizen and Peek-A-Boo Petting Zoo owner Jillian Gates interacts with a young visitor to the zoo on April 12 near Paradise Hill in Sequoyah County. The petting zoo offers farm and exotic animals in exhibits for a hands-on experience. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Two donkeys are a part of the farm animal exhibit where visitors can roam the nearly 4-acre grounds and view exhibits offered at Peek-A-Boo Petting Zoo in Paradise Hill in Sequoyah County. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The Peek-A-Boo Petting Zoo’s Nature Center contains turtles, a salamander, geckos, hermit crabs, an iguana, a ball python, a tarantula, Madagascar cockroaches and a tortoise. The zoo is located in Paradise Hill in Sequoyah County. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Summer Cochran, a Grand View School student, holds a hedgehog at Peek-A-Boo Petting Zoo in Paradise Hill during a school field trip in 2015. ARCHIVE
Cherokee Nation citizens and siblings Swimmer and Sadie Snell feed an eager llama on April 28 at the Peek-A-Boo Petting Zoo. The zoo features domestic and exotic animals. TRAVIS SNELL/ CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Jill Gates – who owns the Peek-A-Boo Petting Zoo in Paradise Hill – helps children from Grand View School with animals during a field trip in 2015. ARCHIVE
PARADISE HILL – For the past seven years, the Peek-A-Boo Petting Zoo in Sequoyah County has pro- vided a way for visitors to learn about different types
of animals through hands-on experi- ences on a nearly 4-acre ground.
From farm animals such as goats, pigs, chickens and ducks to exotic species such as salamanders, geckos, iguanas and chinchillas, the petting zoo provides an array of animals to see. Cherokee Nation citizen and owner Jillian Gates said the zoo, located 25 miles south of Tahlequah, carries up to 50 different animal species.
It got its start in 2011 when she and her husband bought a travel- ing petting zoo and put it on their land, which provides an ideal mix of space, trees and shade for the animals.
When visitors come to the zoo, they pay an entrance fee and are pro- vided a cup of feed for the animals.
“They wander around and see the animals. Some are in barns. Some are out around the petting zoo. Others are in the Nature Center. So they go around on their own, but we’re out there and available to help them and tell them what pens they can go in and answer questions, and things like that,” Gates said.
The zoo also hosts birthday parties and group gatherings, and has a traveling petting zoo for those who want some of the animals brought to their events.
Gates said “a lot of time and money” goes into ensuring the zoo is up to standards. “Every day we go out and rake the animal pens to make sure they’re clean, give them fresh water, give them food and hay. We have a vet that comes out and does inspections and checks to make sure that the animals look OK and that the pens are safe for them. We are also USDA-licensed, so we have an inspector that comes out also and checks all the animals and makes sure that everything is clean and safe. They have to have regular immunizations and de-worming and things like that.”
The zoo has also had several ad- ditions since its opening, including a bone dig, fossil area and a play- ground.
Gates said she hopes to make more additions to the zoo in the future. “We’ve been adding on ever since the day we got started. So it’s been just a gradual process. I’m not sure what’s next. Probably a butterfly house, I’m not real sure. Every year we try to add a little something.”
Other potential additions include a garden, weekend bon fires, primitive camping and nature trails, she said.
Admission is $5 per person. Chil- dren 1 year old and under are admit- ted free, as well as those with a mil- itary ID. Regular season hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Monday. For more information, call 918-816-6506 or visit the Peek-A-Boo Petting Zoo on Facebook.