MamaLA: How to Throw a Petting Zoo Party Without Turning Your Home Into a Pigsty


When Yasmine was planning her son Maverick’s 1st birthday bash, she wanted to create a party that would be fun for all children, from Maverick’s toddler buddies to his big kid cousins. Animals bring out childlike wonder in all of us, but anything resembling a petting zoo usually feels like a germ-infested coop with overworked animals. Parents feel guilty as they watch their little ones ride sad-looking ponies; even the kids sense these animals would rather be somewhere else. So we were thrilled to learn about one rare and treasured exception to the mobile zoo rule: Lil’ Red’s Buckaroo Ranch. Owners John and Red Carson have turned their passion for rescuing animals into a business that educates while entertaining, with all proceeds going towards the care and rehabilitation of L.A.-based Red’s Ranch Animal Rescue. Pricing starts at $275, so they’re not the cheapest option out there, but the kiddos delighted in these beautiful creatures and parents had an opportunity to teach them about integrity, compassion, and the humane treatment of animals. Cowboy Johnny and Lil’ Red can accommodate requests for everything from pony rides to bunny parties, but be sure to invite Mr. Bo Jangles, their meandering miniature horse—he’ll enchant everyone. And you can rest assured all of your barnyard pals will clock in and out happy. The group schedules just one event per day to keep them rested and cheerful for the next soiree.  

With five children and two stepchildren ranging in age from four months to sixteen years between them, sisters Yasmine Delawari Johnson and Soraya Delawari Dancsecs are experts at parenting in L.A. They take a break from PTA board meetings, cooking, and producing films to blog at CityThink each Thursday.