Graham Kilmer

Pony Rides Returning to Zoo

The rides will return in June for first time since 2020.

By - May 11th, 2024 01:08 pm
Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Milwaukee County Zoo will bring back pony rides this summer for the first time since 2020.

In 2020, the zoo stopped offering pony rides in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2023, zoo officials decided to bring the service back and put out a public call for pony ride vendors.

The open call did not receive any responses, so zoo officials began reaching out to potential vendors on their own and came upon New Beginnings Ranch in East Troy, which agreed to take on the pony ride contract, according to an April report from the zoo.

New Beginnings will begin offering pony rides at the zoo on June 1 and will continue through Labor Day weekend. The ranch will also return on weekends in October. The zoo expects the pony ride facility will need some maintenance after being closed for four years.

While the ranch will provide only pony rides at the zoo, it also offers camel rides and petting zoos.

The County Zoo has more than 1 million visitors a year, and, typically the majority of these visitors travel from outside of Milwaukee. The zoo estimates the pony rides will generate approximately $125,000 in revenue. The zoo will take 20% of that, and the rest will go to New Beginnings.

The contract will be voted on by the Milwaukee County Board during its May meeting cycle.

The sprawling 192-acre zoo has more than 2,000 animals representing well over 300 unique species. And it plans to add to that in the coming years.

The zoo recently broke ground on a new $23.1 million rhino habitat, which represents the final phase in the development of the zoo’s Adventure Africa exhibit. Once the new facility is built, the zoo plans to acquire critically endangered Eastern Black Rhinos.

Update: Story was updated after publication to note that the pony ride contract will be voted on by the Milwaukee County Board in May, and that the zoo expects the pony ride area will need some maintenance.

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Categories: MKE County

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