Deer Forest Exotic Animal Sanctuary

Deer Forest Exotic Animal Sanctuary

Deer Forest Exotic Animal Sanctuary
This location was reported permanently closed
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This 32 acre sanctuary provides permanent refuge to more than 150 captive-raised exotic animals. Quiet, educational tours of the facility enable visitors to enjoy close-up observation of exotic animals from around the world. Set on beautiful Paw Paw Lake this volunteer-staffed refuge is one of the largest in the nation. Free parking and picnics are always welcomed. Season runs from Good Friday - Halloween.Off Season tours available by appointment only.
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  • Melody S
    Appleton, Wisconsin179 contributions
    If it's being restored - great. But wait until then to visit
    Our family loves wild animal parks so when driving by Coloma we saw the billboard and had to visit. The front looked nice with a clean entry way building. For one adult and one child with a small bucket of food it was $21.50. This is by far the most I've paid for one of these parks. Once we got in the place went from okay to down right depressing. There were smaller but well-kept pens that housed horses, a llama, pigs, crocodile, and turtles. The animals were friendly and liked the food. That was it. We walked around the back of the small park and it was clearly something to be seen in it's hay-day but all the buildings were run-down and filthy. My husband said all the place needed was a blow torch. I appreciate that they are trying to rebuild this park but they really just need to tear down the old and depressing former buildings that clearly aren't salvageable and start again. For our family of 4 it was nearly $40...not worth it. If it really is being repaired, wait a few years until it gets closer to worth the price.
    Traveled with family
    Written June 21, 2014
  • Sunny654321
    Hampshire, Illinois14 contributions
    Grand daughters favorite
    Feeding animals up close and personal. Animals are being well taken care of now and conditions have been cleaned up and animals are well taken care of!
    Traveled with family
    Written October 10, 2014
  • John J
    1 contribution
    Rename it Deerless Forest
    Wow! Went there as a child and it was a great place 27 years ago. Went there two years ago with my kids and it was awful, run down ready to close. Went there today since they say they have been making huge changes! They did, the deer are gone!!!!!!! They brought in a new herd and guess what? They are terrified of humans. So there is no feeding or petting deer at deer forest. Thirsty? Head to the concessions stand, they had one Diet Cherry Pepsi and two hot dogs. Did you pay for the gem miming? Well ask if they actually have sand for the gem mining prior to purchasing tickets. Walked over to the mining and they said all out of sand so no mining. Guess some childhood memories should just be left as memories and not revisited.
    The day you came was the day after we had a HUGE breast cancer benefit for a local resident battling a horrible disease. Yes we were out of many things including sand. Yes I agree that it looks bad, but it is what it is. We are a small family run park and do fall short from time to time. The deer are brand new in June of 2013 and have not fully adjusted yet. Keep in mind the fallow deer are from Eurosia and are a wild animal and feeding them should be viewed as a privilage and not a right. If they want to feed or not it is beyond our control. I hope that you give us another shot in 2014 and try again. Thank you.
    Written October 2, 2013
    This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
    Traveled with family
    Written August 13, 2013
These reviews are the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor checks reviews for fraud.
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.

109 reviews
Very good

Eagle, MI66 contributions
Jun 2014 • Family
I seen a flyer on this and thought oh boy what fun to be able to go to a petting zoo with different animals other than your typical petting zoo animals. I am not sure how old this flyer was but the information in the flyer was not up to date. There was no camel, no pony rides, no kiddie amusement rides, not alot of animals, I was really disappointed. I can handle that though, whatever things change all the time. My kid is older so it was more for my enjoyment of animals. We arrived and not many cars at all. We paid $6.50 per person to get in and $8 for a bucket of food to feed the animals. The gift shop area had a macaw and some reptiles, then we walked out into the larger animal area which was a story book theme. The storybook boxes did work on the first one we seen, but once again my son is older so we really didn't care to much about that and even pressing the buttons on the other boxes. The characters needed some TLC but I can handle that, we or I were more interested in the live animals. I noticed many cages or pens were empty and not maintained. There was alot of empty cages, which really I think could have been replaced even with little animals, but that is my personal opinion. The whole park needs TLC ASAP. We don't have a true petting zoo in Michigan that I am aware of and that is my favorite type of attraction to attend. So anyway we seen the turtle, mini horses, some type of birds like house birds from the pet shop. The animal pens didn't have labels on all the cages, so I can't recall exactly what type of animals to be exact (sorry). We fed the mini horses, which I will say none of the animals looked under fed, in my opinion. They were all really ready to eat though. The alligators were in a man made cement type set up with water, dirty but they are alligators but it was not a pond and had no greenery. There was an Emu that they were trying to move as we were told but they were trying to catch it, so I was watching and the owner kept looking back at us to see if we were watching and after the third time looking back he told us they were trying to move the bird, ok not thinking much of it execpt why would he keep looking to see if we were watching them? Red flag to me, but at that time they were doing the right thing. So we continued on down to some type of cow (bull) with horn. Very nice he came right up and ate out of my hand, let us pet him. Larger horses were in the next pen and as usual horses love people so we spent some time with them feeding and petting them. At this point everything seemed fine, the cages were fine, animlas seemed fine. The pig was laying down not doing much and the llamas were as well and they were sheered. Both of those animals didn't get up to come see us, so we continued to walk not much towards the back of the park. There were two peacocks walking free range, a coop with some chickens and some guineas, which as all up to par. In the back of the park was two animals which look like a cross between a rabbit, deer and kangaroo (their name begins with a C but I can't remember them) they are common at zoo's. Anyways, they were in a concrete cage, no dirt, no grass. That was sad, they looked sad. We come to a large rabbit, which had a great amount of space and a nice big house, but it was ALL dirt, no grass. I have NEVER seen a rabbit with NO grass! I am sick to my stomach now, I have a rabbit and would NEVER have it in an area without grass. At this point we hear a weird noise like something moving, so I look up and there are the guys that were in the Emu pen pulling something but you couldn't see anything at first. So I am really looking now and guess what? It was the emu, on the ground being pulled from the front to the back of the park, WOW really! I don't think they knew where we were at or if we would have seen that, but guess what, we DID. They drug the bird on the ground down the dirt lane and they get the bird in the pen and it didn't get up! So yes they were looking back to see if we were watching and then the owner throws water on the bird and it still didn't get up. Several guys starting running towards the front of the park and drag back a hose. Finally the bird gets up limping huntched over bad and it's mouth was open really far. NOT NORMAL at all. We continue over the some more horses and fed them. I turned to feed another horse and the one bit me. I am not mad about being bit, actually my husband and I laugh about it joking. We laugh about it, but what if it was a little kid. I didn't tell anyone there for I was afraid what they may do to it. I still continued to feed the horse though, for I felt it maybe hungry. We walked over to the deer, but they stayed far away. It was kind of hard to tell the shape of them. With all animals, I get that we as humans have to respect them and if they don't come to you then leave them alone. I RESPECT all animals and their habitats. We continue to walk around the park to the playground area, which was really nice. We did see which there used to be pony rides and kiddie amusement rides for the kids. There were pinic tables to sit and eat, so that part was really nice. The rides were not in operation. For us that was no big deal, but if someone could get in here and fix the park up, it may be a great attraction for Michigan. They did have a booth with food to sell, kind of like a fair food booth. They also had a little put put golf area, which I am not for sure if that was open or not. We did not finish our food bucket so as we are getting ready to leave I gave it back for them to use the rest of the food. When we got back to the gift shop, one of their kids said to me that her dad was back there and pointed to the animla area and said to me that the bird was bleeding from its neck. Hmm, the Emu which was drug! We were on our way back home from Chicago so we stopped. This place was on our to do list for the summer and I am so glad we did not drive here just for that! I would not recommend this place to anyone and I will never come back. I write alot of reviews on trip advisor and I give a complete full and honest review. I can handle and get over the need to upgrade and such but the neglect and abuse I can't. Now a Sanctuary, I was under the impression that you get money from the government as well and some animals are rescued from neglect and abuse places. Maybe it is time to sell this place to someone who really can turn it around and have a true passion to help animals and share them with others. It needs to be turned back into a true petting zoo.
Written June 3, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Katie G
3 contributions
I wad so excited to take my husband here because he had never been. I had such wonderful memories as a child and I can still remember the enjoyment this place brought me when I visited for the first time!
As we pulled up to the gate I should have known right there it was not going to even be close to the same as my memories. We walked into the gift shop where you pay to get in and instantly it smelled terrible! Two teenage kids were playing a game that we seemed to interrupt to pay the entrance fee and right by the register was a big sign that read, NO REFUNDS! I figured that since it was so cheap, even if it wasn't great, it still would be worth it, again I was wrong.

We ventured out the door and what I saw looked like a deserted amusement park overgrown with weeds. Instantly sadness washed over me. Storybook Lane was in shambles and animals were hard to find. The giant tortoise had no water, the horses were starved for attention, and the bobcats made crying noises. As we walked around looking for the other animals the website promised, we found wheelbarrows filled with debris that looked like it had been sitting that way for days.

As I was giving the rest of my feed to the seemed starving horses, my husband went to ask if there were any deer. He came back and told me they have two but only come out at feeding time. What? How can you call yourself deer forest with no deer?

If you remember this place as a child, it would break your heart to see it like this. At this point I have no idea how they think they can even charge a fee to get in. The only exotic animals were two alligators and two bobcats. I loved the bobcats but they looked so unhappy!! These poor animals deserve so much better!!

If the owner of this place can not afford to restore it, then honestly it's time to close and get these animals to better homes.

So long deer forest, I will always remember the time I had as a child and feel sad that my kids will never get to experience it!
Written August 30, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Waterman, IL14 contributions
Jul 2014 • Family
The conditions are horrible! No one seems to care. There are no actual staff members around to clean up the place or take care of then animals. It is totally run down.
DO NOT GO! Save yourself the $6.50 and thebhorrible feeling in the poit of yiur stomach!
Written July 28, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Andrea C
Battle Creek, MI23 contributions
Jul 2014 • Family
My four year old son and I drove to Deer Forest today for our first visit. The website showed animals in great care and children feeding deer, which my son would have loved, so we were happy to make the hour drive to visit.

As an animal lover, the minute we walked through the gate, my stomach dropped and I was so angry and near tears that I was physically shaking the whole way through the park. The vast majority of the park is skeletal remains of long gone enclosures and rides, but instead of taking these remains away, pieces and parts are left all over the grounds in piles that are unsafe for young children and the animals. There is not a single deer in Deer Forest (after we got home we saw they have been taken away after being neglected), so the only animals we saw outside were 5 horses, 4 goats, 2 chickens, a turtle, 2 peacocks, pigeons, and 3 donkeys. These are wonderful animals, but not worth the $14 it cost the two of us to get in since it did not remotely match the animals shown on their website.

The animals were extremely excited to see the bucket of feed we had (one type of food for all animals?!?) and there was no visible food or water for them in their enclosures. The donkeys had cuts and sores along their legs and head, their ribs showed as though emaciated, and their entire enclosure was FULL of manure. The goats are in an enclosure with weeds taller than they are throughout their entire area.

I wouldn't allow my son to play on the play structure because of the tools, wheelbarrows and debris laying all around it, and there were no concessions or snacks of any kind (the owner said they are only available on Wednesdays). The restroom had brown liquid running from the toilets to a drain in the middle of the floor with a "wet floor" sign, but no attempt visible to fix or clean it. My son wanted to play mini-golf, which the owner said was free, but I was so close to tears from our visit that I just wanted to leave as soon as possible, and after just 20 minutes, we were in the car and leaving the premises.

As we left a customer complained that the boa snake in the office was in a tank far too small for it. The owner said "yes, but it came from a tank half that size". While I appreciate the owner's attempt to help it from a poor situation, moving an animal from one deplorable condition to another does not help the animal in any way. If there isn't means to take care of it, they should not be taken in.

After our visit I've been looking online and seeing a variety of people who have called PETA, voiced concerns, tried to alert the media....I'm not sure what avenue is appropriate to take, but I'm 100% committed to doing whatever I can to help these animals get into a SAFE and APPROPRIATE sanctuary, and hope that the new owners will not continue to care for animals until they are ready to do so in the manner the animals deserve.
Written July 29, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

South haven 1 contribution
Jul 2014
This place should be closed down, this is false advertisement & the poor animals are starving. They were fighting for the food I was trying to give them, there food & water bowls were DRY & CRUSTY. The animals had cuts & was dirty, "exotic" to them obviously means just farm animals. The place is like a swamp it's not worth your money or for your kids to see, it's horrible & extremely sad. There are no food places, there are no amusement rides. They should be closed!!! Animals deserve better than that!!!!
Written July 8, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Hudsonville, MI5 contributions
May 2011
Ugh. Where do I begin? We went to Deer Park on May 30, 2011 (Memorial Day). We drove from Grand Rapids (1 hour, 15 min). We based our trip off the awesome-looking website. Our nearly 3 year old daughter LOVES petting zoos & being able to feed the animals, play on playgrounds, and ride some kiddie rides. This place looked to be exactly the fun experience we were looking for on our mini-holiday vacation!

But when we got was a DISASTER! I can't agree with the other negative reviews enough! Somewhat in their defense, we had just had some rain the day before. But the place was a mud pit! At least 3/4 of the "park" was a mud puddle. We had to park in what was basically a lake of mud (should have been our first clue to turn around and leave!), carry our daughter up to the entrance & dodge mud & puddles all the way up to the place where you pay (super fun when you're wearing flip flops). We figured, "Well...we're here...we drove all this way...let's give it a shot." And our daughter was geeked out of her mind, so we couldn't very easily leave. We were told that if we stayed on the main path, that it wasn't so muddy. So we drudged on, but only after paying $20 for admission + feed for the animals.

We began to walk through the park, but there was such a lack of animals, it was sad! The animals that WERE there were SO mangy, malnourished-looking & covered in mud. They looked pathetic. Most didn't have any interest in the feed, which was strange. Some were basically stranded on islands of dry land in seas of mud, but too far away for us to feed. We couldn't go in to "pet" any of the animals at all. Everything was fenced in - not that we would, as like I said before, it was impossible to go in due to mud.

The Storybook Village COULD have been cute, had it been maintained. We didn't purchase the "key" that was required to use the soundboxes, but I am glad we didn't. We spent enough on this place as it was. If you look on their website, the little Storybook Village looks so quaint, but those photos have got to be more than a decade old. It's completely rundown & overgrown with weeds & spider webs now.

The "Amusement Park" could best be summed up by saying: broken-down & ancient. The rides looked far from up-to-code. I went on ONE ride (a ladybug car) with my daughter (who really wanted to go on the helicopter ride, but there was only one, gruff, man running all 4-5 rides they had, so he was rotating). The ride groaned its way around and around. Felt very unsafe.

The Bounce House could have been a nice asset, if it were clean & inflated properly.

The Playground area was okay, but over grown with weeds & generally very dirty. The swings sat WAY too low.

Needless to say...we left within 30 minutes with a heartbroken toddler who, the whole 1 hour & 15 minute ride there, was so excited she could barely contain herself. What a disappointment & waste of money. Not to mention, a very pathetic-looking pack of animals. I'm thinking (like a previous poster) of calling Animal Cruelty. I'm not sure if the problem is that the place has been for sale for years now & the current owners are in over their heads, or that they just don't care. Either way, it's unacceptable to ask someone to pay what we paid for a 1/2 hour & such a drastic misrepresentation of what they offer as compared to their website.

If I could rate this place NO points, I would. Overall, I mostly feel bad for disappointed kids, parents & the ill-kept animals.
Written May 30, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Saint Joe25 contributions
Aug 2014
I can only imagine what a wonderful place this it's long, gone day. I understand that they are trying to get the place in order, but there are so many piles of wood and debris. It doesn't cost anything to haul debris out of the view of the public...and there is no reason for the weeds in some of the animal enclosures to be waist high. The "haunted house" was accessible, apparently there is a pentagram painted on the wall!!! There are exposed wires in one of the out buildings...and the ark was packed full if junk. The draft horses need their hooves trimmed -- badly & one draft could use at least 100lbs added on to his bones. The ponies are pretty round. The one donkey needs weight put on also. I don't think the animals are not being taken care of, it's a matter iof lack of know how, drive, heart and yes, money. There is a lot that needs to be done that doesn't cost anything. I am uploading pictures so people can make their own judgement call...I certainly hope they have liability insurance, it's only a matter if time before someone gets hurt :/
Written August 4, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

lafayette1 contribution
Jul 2014
Went with 2 family's at 5:00 to see that no one was there waste of gas,time,and gets crying thank you for wasting our time I hope they close you down
Written July 13, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Saint Joseph, MI3 contributions
Jul 2014
Went this week with family and its sad. The animals ribs and hip bones were showing as if they were just bones with skin pulled over. There was a few dead animals laying around and no food or water for any of them. The one thing we did see that had water was filled with algae and trash that looked like it had been sitting for a few days. There is hardly any animals and nothing for kids to do. I really dont see how this place is staying open
Written July 12, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

St. Joseph2 contributions
Jul 2014
The animals were emaciated; water and food bowls were empty; animal fences were chewed up; a dead pea hen was just lying in the pen with flies surrounding it.

I remember visiting when I was younger and had the best times. Now, you couldn't pay me a million dollars to go back. Those poor animals - they have no support or care. Don't give Deer Forest your time or money any longer. It should be shut down and the animals should be placed where they can be fed, cleaned, and nurtured.
Written July 11, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Deer Forest Exotic Animal Sanctuary (Coloma) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go