If your children or grandchildren are intrigued with “critters,” two unusual attractions in Snohomish County offer up-close experiences with exotic animals far beyond neighborhood dogs and cats. The Outback Kangaroo Farm in Arlington and The Reptile Zoo in Monroe both feature amazing collections of unusual animals with an emphasis on educating visitors about their special menageries.
At the Outback Kangaroo Farm, kids can see kangaroos, wallaroos, wallabies, llamas, alpacas, lemurs, pygmy goats, mini-donkeys, ostriches, emus, parrots, three kinds of peacocks and — new this year — a Patagonian cavy. Also known as the Patagonian mara or Patagonian hare, this large herbivorous rodent comes from the far south of Argentina.
The Outback Kangaroo Farm is open on a seasonal basis, offering educational, guided tours from March 1 through Oct. 30, Wednesday through Sunday. Four tours a day are led by one of the farm’s owners, Ray and Joey Strom. They thoroughly enjoy sharing their knowledge of all their unusual animals with visitors, who can get “up close and personal” with certain critters. Kids love the opportunity to pet a wallaby or alpaca.
The guided tours are offered at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. Admission is $9 for children ages 2-12, $10 for adults and $8 for seniors. Group rates are also available for parties of 15 or more at $7 per person. Reservations are encouraged during the busy summer months.
The Reptile Zoo near Monroe features a distinctly more adventurous encounter with exotic critters — it boasts the most extensive collection of reptiles in the Pacific Northwest. These include the world’s 10 deadliest snakes among its 150 creatures. Some of the non-snake critters are an albino alligator, two-headed turtle, bearded dragon lizard, rhinoceros iguana and the world’s largest spiders and centipedes.
Boys in particular love the “gross-out” factor of the snakes. Here they — and any brave visitor — can hold a snake and pet an alligator. Designated “holding” snakes include the rosy boa and Burmese python — but not the black mamba, the world’s deadliest snake.
Zoologist and educator Scott Petersen, known as The Reptile Man, founded his Reptile Zoo in 1996 to further his goal of educating others about such creatures. Formerly a high school biology teacher, Scott continues his educational focus both at The Reptile Zoo and by providing reptile presentations at schools and other venues. He has performed for more than 800 schools, festivals, corporate parties and other events. Scott has been featured on Disney’s Bill Nye The Science Guy and PBS’s Biz Kids.
His son, Isaac Petersen, now handles the daily operation of The Reptile Zoo, which is open year-round every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Located on Highway 2 just east of the town of Monroe, The Reptile Zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $8 per adult and $6.50 per child (ages 3-17).
Both The Reptile Zoo and the Outback Kangaroo Farm also host children’s birthday parties and other special events; check their websites for private event information.
The Outback Kangaroo Farm
10030 SR 530 N.E.
Arlington, WA 98223
The Reptile Zoo
22715 State Route 2
Monroe, WA 98272