In Touch With the Wild Side
April 25th, 2016 by Rick Stedman
Jozee Rooz Indoor Petting Zoo owners Donny Miller and Debbie Dolittle Penwell of Tacoma, Washington, enjoy raising animals, and teaching children and adults about their handling and care.

Jozee Rooz Indoor Petting Zoo owners Donny Miller and Debbie Dolittle Penwell of Tacoma, Washington, enjoy raising animals, and teaching children and adults about their handling and care.

With a collection of animals from many parts of the world, the Jozee Rooz Indoor Petting Zoo in Tacoma, Washington, offers visitors a chance to interact with animals they may otherwise only see on TV.

The brainchild of Debbie Dolittle Penwell and Donny Miller, the petting zoo has been a resounding success in its first year.

“The neighborhood loves us,” says Debbie. “We get a lot of local business as well as from surrounding areas like Seattle, Olympia, Gig Harbor and other cities.”

With more than 50 animals in their menagerie, Debbie and Donny are always on the go. The actual number of animals varies, but the current lineup includes 14 goats and kids, six lambs, seven rabbits, one pig, six piglets, two wallabies, one wallaro, a zebu calf, a yak calf, one jersey calf, a noisy cockatiel, four budgies, three mini/banty chickens and a reindeer.

“We also have a mini donkey, a mini horse and ponies we bring in for rides,” Debbie says. “We chose the name of our first wallaby, Jozee Rooz, as the name of our business.”

She says the petting zoo is a great place to teach children how to respect animals, starting with gentle touching.

“We teach them to pet and brush the animals gently, and to not touch their faces,” she says. “If the animal moves away, don’t chase after them, just find another animal to pet. I also like to teach kids that none of us like strangers touching our faces, and the animals don’t either. Most of us like a good back rub or scratching, though.”

Debbie credits her mother for her love of animals.

“I can’t think of a time when I didn’t have animals in my life,” she says.

For more information about the Jozee Rooz Indoor Petting Zoo, call (253) 539-5011 or (877) 570-3346, or visit www.indoorpettingzoo.com.