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Cock-A-Doodle Zoo takes Renaissance Fair favorite to Maplewood Mall

After hosting a popular petting zoo at the Renaissance Festival and bringing animals to educate students in classrooms around the Twin Cities, Bob Plitz created Cock-A-Doddle Zoo in the Maplewood Mall. A passionate lover of animals of all types, Plitz offers about 100 animals in the large store location.

Plitz has a mission is to educate the public on planet sustainability by providing an experience with a variety of creatures from various countries. CNH Architects gave concept advice on design, image and air-circulation for the space. In the process, as Plitz frequented the architecture office with a young kangaroo in tow, the CNH staff became fans of the project.

“Bob is delightful in his passion for the animal experience and his concern for educating through interaction with the animals,” said Principal Wayne Hilbert with CNH Architects. “Although he needs minimal architectural help at this time, we imagine that some form of Cock-A-Doodle Zoo will expand in the future.”

The animal experience has made it the main attraction for mall visitors. Except for the Parakeet Aviary, the animals are all mammals and have been raised in captivity. They can be observed, petted, and fed with treats that come with an admission ticket.

This interaction is purposeful. With connections to animals rarely seen, observed or touched by visitors in the past, each guest gains knowledge and understanding of the animal and its environment. Some, like the baby goats, kangaroos and small alligators are available for holding. A de-scented skunk and a porcupine can be seen up-close. And a llama, famous for snatching food from visitors, is another favorite.

The ring-tailed lemur is native to Madagascar. The zoo’s kinkajou are normally found in Central and South America, and capybara are from South America. And, desert coatimundi are available at various times at the zoo. When entering the Aviary, parakeets line up on the arms and hands to eat from seed sticks which are provided.

Even better than a YouTube video, guests can delight in watching baby goats learn to walk, play and romp with each other. They watch kangaroos hop and interact, observe the slowness of a tortoise or the best friendship of a camel with a yak. Kangaroos, the most popular animals at the zoo, have a large area that allows for observation of their group interactions. They are available for petting, holding or feeding.

A family of ring-tailed lemurs, hand raised over the past 20 years, are a critically endangered species in their native Madagascar. The family unit is female dominated and their soft, woolly fur and careful touch with five fingered hands provides a gentle connection with guests.

The mission of Cock-A-Doodle Zoo is to bring live animals to a safe space where they can be enjoyed. The animals are rotated daily between the Plitz farm in Scandia and the mall. They have all been raised in captivity and are comfortable with human interaction.

Education is offered on the characteristics of each species and the importance of their natural habitat. Cook-A-Doodle Zoo hopes to inspire guests and students to be part of preserving the earth’s ecosystem., Staff teach visitors to regard nature with respect and humility, and they encourage environmental stewardship.

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