A couple of mighty cute miniature horses, a dandy little donkey and other animal friends have moved into their summer home this week in preparation for Tefft Farm’s opening Saturday at Lords Park Zoo in Elgin.

The 10 animals, which also include pigs, sheep and cow calves donated for the season by local farmers, will be on display every day until August 13 in what was previously known as the Farm Zoo. Tefft Farm is the smallest seasonal area inside the larger Lords Park Zoo, which is home to bison, elk, and deer year-round.

This will be the first year under the zoo’s new nickname, which was officially renamed in honor of Dr Joseph Tefft in the fall. Tefft served as Elgin’s first physician and first mayor and has held a myriad of other civic leadership roles.

Lords Park team leader Mike Adams helped set up the animals this week.

“I think what we come up with is a little closer than what you get in a regular zoo, even with our larger animals,” Adams said. “Being able to get up close and really see is one of the things I love about this place.”

Saturday’s opening will feature the first of six “Uncaged in the Zoo” presentations offered on Saturdays by the nearby Elgin Public Museum. The JG’s Reptile Road Show will feature a hands-on educational tour with snakes, lizards and other reptiles from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Future “Uncaged” presentations will feature Deb the Frog Lady, Chi-town Exotics and Anderson Humane’s Fox Valley Wildlife Center.

The free zoo is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. on weekends and offers a variety of special programs throughout the summer. Sharry Blazer, education and public relations coordinator at the Elgin Public Museum, said the zoo offers its “Zoo Adventures” hospitality program every Tuesday and “PAWS on the Porch” story time for young children most Fridays.

“It’s a lot of fun for us, and it’s a great way to reach out to people to let them know that the museum is also open,” said Blazer.

Adams said the zoo, which was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, hosted around 10,000 guests in 2019.

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