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He Opened A Zoo On His Family’s Dairy Farm
When you have too many exotic animals what do you do? Build a zoo, says Dusty Ebersviller, of Vergas, Minn. Trowbridge Creek Zoo opened in 2016 and is on 10 acres that was part of his parents’ dairy farm, where Ebersviller still helps with baling and crops – and milking during the winter. But during the summer his main focus is caring for 35 species – more than 100 animals including everything from a variety of deer species to kangaroos to camels.
    Ebersviller’s passion for collecting animals from around the world began when he was in ninth grade, and he purchased two whitetail deer fawns from a friend. His hobby – and wish list – grew as he added more and more animals to the family farm.
    “I needed to make something out of it or cut back,” Ebersviller says.
    Located in the midst of many lakes and just three miles from a major tourist highway, the zoo offers weekenders and travelers something new to see and do. Ebersviller used the skills he learned growing up on a farm to put up fences (tall ones), build sturdy pens and run water and electric lines. And, like dairy farm regulations, he worked his way through the paperwork and requirements for licensing with the Department of Natural Resources, Board of Animal Health and the United States Department of Agriculture.
    “The zoo has about a half-mile loop with an alleyway,” Ebersviller says. In addition to pens and shelters for each species, there is a fence around the perimeter, which provides an extra level of security to keep his animals in and wild animals out. A heated barn keeps hot-climate species warm during the winter.
    Ebersviller bales grass and alfalfa hay for some of his animals, but most are fed blended feeds. Chores take two or three hours a day. Manure is cleaned up as needed and stockpiled to be spread on fields.
    “We had a good first year, but it’s still a hobby,” Ebersviller says, noting that besides operating the zoo he raises breeding pairs so he can sell to other collectors and zoos. One of his most profitable and unusual species is the African crested porcupine. Unlike North American porcupines, they don’t climb trees. But at 14 to 16 in. long, their quills are impressive, and they have one or two babies every 4 to 5 months.
    While the zoo’s pens are filled with everything from lemurs to ostriches to North American wildlife including bobcats and wolves, the sulcata tortoise and camels seem to be crowd favorites.
    “This year we are adding camel rides,” he says.
    The business is a true family operation with the help of a nephew, his wife Rachel, and their six children, ranging from 3 to 11. Even the youngest get involved in bottle-feeding newborns.
    Geared for families, the zoo has a playground and picnic area for visitors. There is also a petting zoo with domesticated animals including potbellied pigs.
    The zoo is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, seven days a week and weekends in the fall until it gets too cold. Cost is $10.75/adults and $8.50/children 3-12.
    The Trowbridge Creek Zoo Facebook page includes photos that show the variety of animals at the rural zoo.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Trowbridge Creek Zoo, 50622 Co. Hwy. 17, Vergas, Minn. 56587 (ph 218 731-8711; www.trowbridgecreekzoo.com; trowbridgecreek@gmail.com).

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2017 - Volume #41, Issue #4