Exotic zoo animals in Downtown Paso Robles! And what do zoos and wine have in common? Not everyone who visits our town knows that Paso Robles is the home of Zoo to You, an exotic animal rescue organization that’s been based here for over 25 years. This organization cares for hundreds of furred, feathered, and scaled wildlife every day. The Downtown Wineries hosted a fund raiser for this group in February and — we’re pleased to say — the turnout to support the zoo was fabulous.
Heather and Max stayed in the Tasting Room, and I went around and visited the 1-year-old kangaroo, alligator, bald eagle, camel — yes, a camel — and a wide variety of birds, reptiles, and beasts in the 14 downtown tasting rooms. Petting the baby hedgehog, which was incredibly soft, and porcupine (those quills felt like very long feathers!) were highlights for me. Spike, an alligator who's probably in his early 20s, was so still that he could have passed for a statue. Until I looked into his eyes however! All the animal visitors came with a handler, except Spike who came with two strong men. The volunteer handlers explained each animal's particular behavior and showed how to touch each critter.
Zophia, an Eurasian Eagle Owl, drew crowds at Bodegas Paso Robles. She is a huge girl and amazingly friendly. Her owl eyes look at you intensely, and from just a foot away the experience is thrilling. This type of owl is used in this country by falconers who have raptors trained to eliminate birds in vineyards and landfills. A falconer told me that this type of owl is an extremely pleasant work partner, unlike the American great horned owls.
Visitors to Paso Robles can tour the Zoo to You facilities on Saturdays and Sundays at 3 pm. They can be reached at 805-391-0604.