By Rachel Christian
Green Meadows Petting Farm would have celebrated 30 years in Kissimmee
Instead, the iconic 40-acre animal attraction announced plans to close its Kissimmee location next week.
Property manager Hilda Hernandez said Green Meadows rents the property it sits on, and that property was recently sold to a new owner. The manager said the news was sudden and unexpected.
“We posted about it on Facebook Jan. 8, two days after we found out,” said Hernandez,
whose father served as a primary groundskeeper at Green Meadows for years. “We hadn’t planned for this.”
Green Meadows was opened in 1988 by husband and wife team Coril and Bob Keyes. Their son, Dan, took over primary ownership of the petting farm following their death.
The popular field trip destination averages around 500,000 visitors a year, according to the Green Meadows website.
The facility plans to re-open elsewhere in Osceola County, but a new location has not yet been selected. Until then, Hernandez and other employees at Green Meadows are working to secure temporary homes for the more than 65 animals that reside there.
The manager said staff is reaching out to local farms and sanctuaries to arrange lodging for the animals, which include sheep, goats, water buffalo and a horse-zebra hybrid called a Zorse.
News of Green Meadows closure was a blow to the facility’s 20 year-round employees, including one tour guide who has worked at the petting farm for 27 years.
“I told them I understand if they begin looking for work elsewhere, but reassured them that if they stayed, there would be a place for them when we re-open.”
Green Meadows management has remained tight lipped with details about who purchased the property. They said Jan. 18 is the latest the petting farm could remain open before animals and exhibits begin moving off-site.
Hernandez said Green Meadows will continue to update the public through its social media accounts and website.