Changes coming to Domino's Petting Farm after departure of longtime manager
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Changes are coming to the Domino’s Petting Farm in Ann Arbor Township after longtime manager Don Strobel left his position last week.
After 16 years, Strobel left his position as manager of the petting farm on Friday. When Strobel left, he took a number of the animals he owned, said John Petz, director of real estate and public affairs at Domino’s Farms.
The petting farm contained more than 250 animals and Petz said Strobel owned many of the non-native farm animals such as yaks. Domino’s Farms is working with Stroble to potentially purchase some of the animals to keep them at the farm, Petz said.
“We are in the process of acquiring a good number of those animals from Don,” Petz said. “Obviously, we are going to continue the petting farm activities.”
The Domino’s Petting Farm has been in operation since 1984 at 3001 Earhart Road. It is a 501(3)c organization and is not subsidized by Domino’s Farms or Domino’s Pizza
Strobel started working at the petting farm in 1997. AnnArbor.com could not reach him by phone for comment on this story Monday.
In a statement posted on the Domino’s Petting Farm website, Strobel said he was leaving to spend more time with his family.
“The last 16 years have been some of the most rewarding and enjoyable of my life,” he wrote in the statement. “I’ve been fortunate enough to see families bring their children to the farm and then their children grow and bring their children to the farm.”
The major change coming to the petting farm’s operation will be the switch from a year-round model to a seasonal model, Petz said. The farm will close after Labor Day, on Sept. 2.
“We’re going to be moving to a seasonal model from year-round,” Petz said. “That’ll first be implemented by closing after Labor Day and reopening next spring, when we’re going to be hiring an activities coordinator to run a lot of the programs families have typically come to expect.”
Hours will continue to be the same as usual until Sept. 2, Petz said. The farm is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Petz did not have a full inventory of the animals owned by Strobel that were no longer at the petting farm as of Monday. He said Strobel’s animals included yaks and pot-bellied pigs, which Domino’s Farms is looking to purchase from him. Many of the goats, sheep and other traditional Midwest farm animals are owned by the petting farm and are still there.
Rumors that most of the animals were taken from the petting zoo were simply not true, Petz said.
“He (Strobel) didn’t load his pickup truck and take the animals with him,” Petz said with a laugh.
Petz said the organization will miss Strobel’s in-depth knowledge of the petting farm and the rare breeds of animals he allowed visitors to interact with.
“He was very dedicated, he put all of his effort and time into this during the past 16 years,” he said, adding, “We wish Don success in the new roles he’s going to be pursuing.”