Capital Region residents don’t have to go far to take in the regal walk of an East African crowned crane or the soulful eyes of a patas monkey.
Right on Route 30 in Mayfield, Fulton County, is the Adirondack Animal Land, which sits on a 100-acre parcel, housing over 400 animals, from the common to the exotic.
A quarter century ago, Dave Eglin and his wife, Pat, sought to fill a gap in the activities around Sacandaga Lake. As he saw it, unless families were into boating, fishing or camping, there weren’t a lot of options for family outings. The Eglins had plenty of experience with animals as dairy farmers and miniature horse breeders, and they like animals. In 1992, they decided to create a wildlife park.
The Eglins started out with a few animals and have been adding to the collection each year. Alligators just arrived for this season. Today, Adirondack Animal Land exhibits animals native to countries across the globe.
To name a few, there are buffalo, wolves, and prairie dogs from North America, red ruffed lemurs from Madagascar, black-headed spider monkeys native to Central and South America, kangaroos from Australia, Reeves’ muntjac native to China, and ankole watusi, a breed of cattle native to Africa. Each exhibit includes a sign giving a mini-zoological and geographical lesson, with information about the animal, a map, and its conservation status.
A highlight of the park is its Safari Rides. Every hour on the hour, Eglin and his son, Tye, take visitors out into a 45-acre area where 100 animals roam freely, letting visitors get up close to the wildlife, even close enough for a “camel kiss,” Eglin said.
Another part of the park is dedicated to deer.
The Eglins designed the park to be extremely family-friendly. Paved walkways wind through a wooded area bordering a stream, past exhibits where visitors can get a good look at a variety of animals such as zebras, ostriches, alpacas, llamas, pot-bellied pigs, black bears, camels, hedgehogs, snakes, bearded dragons and parrots. The giraffes are Eglin’s favorite. Visitors are able to feed the animals with food available near the exhibitions. The park does not allow visitors to bring food into the park to feed the animals, as it can be harmful to them, and employees do bag checks for food upon entry into the park.
Many animals have been born in the park over the years. This summer, two of the zebras will have babies, and a buffalo cow will have a calf. Recently three sika deer were born.
There is a petting area where children can touch deer and an aviary through which visitors can walk while parakeets fly around. Also interspersed with the exhibits are plenty of places for children to play. There’s an old Western town with several buildings to explore and a wooden train they can board as well as lots of animal statues and a playground.
Another aspect that makes the zoo family-friendly is the picnicking option. There is the Country Café on site where visitors can purchase food, but there are also over 100 picnic tables throughout the park. Families are invited to bring in their own picnic lunches.
This year, the venue has added a party room for birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations. The family-focus extends to the operation of the zoo, as it is family-owned, with the Eglins' adult children working in the park. One daughter serves as the vet technician and another is the front gate attendant. A third daughter cares for some of the animals, and their son helps to run the Safari rides. Mom (Pat) runs the gift shop.
At a glance
- Adirondack Animal Land is open seven days a week, including holidays, through Labor Day.
- In the off-season, the animals winter inside four large buildings heated to 70 degrees.
- Admission, payable by cash only, is $16.75 plus tax for adults and $13.75 plus tax for children ages 12 months to 12 years.
- For GPS directions, visitors should enter 3554 State Highway 30, Gloversville.
- For more information, visit www.adirondackanimalland.com or call 518-883-5748