A love of animals combined with an 8th grade Agriculture class and time in FFA has turned into a business endeavor for one Shelby County man.
Luke Schonfeld has managed to combine all three into Barnyard Party Pals, a mobile petting zoo that features pony and unicorn parties, pony rides, live nativities, educational programs and more.
"When we started, we started with a couple of goats, one alpaca and a pony. Since then, we have grown tremendously. We have a multitude of species as part of our Critter Crew here at Barnyard Party Pals," Schonfeld tells Giant FM.
Schonfeld says his love for animals comes from the "best role model I had growing up," his grandfather, Frank Schonfeld, Sr.
"Growing up, he taught me amazing lessons about raising animals and sharing them with others. He and I would take day trips to amazing places and meet amazing people who had all kinds of animals. One trip to this day I remember was seeing buffalo, ostriches and camels on one trip. That is where I get my love for sharing my animals. I am also a huge fan of Dr. Pol, Steve Irwin, and his son, Robert, all of them are animal lovers as well," Schonfeld told Giant FM.
Currently, Barnyard Party Pals features alpacas, ducks, donkeys, geese, goats, ponies, turkeys, rabbits, iguanas, bearded dragons, hedgehogs and more, according to Schonfeld.
As for growing too fast, Schonfeld said he wanted to start his business slowly.
"I am not the person who wants to get crazy, big fast. I want the chance to slowly grow that we can handle the growing pains that come with it. Everything is planned and has to be in order to work with animals," he said.
Schonfeld said his business initially started out by bringing animals to various nursing homes and doing a few family birthdays, but now they supply the animals for the week of the Shelby County Fair, as well as at the Shelby County Ag Promotion and Farm Bureau Children's Animal Farm and Shelbyville Parks Department events.
"We are a mobile petting zoo, which is definitely different among the rest. We bring the zoo to you," he said.
In 2021, Schonfeld said his business will be featuring pony rides, ponies and unicorn parties, as well as animal educational programs.
"We do all kinds of events for all different age groups. Whether you are one or 100, when you see an animal for the first time, I get to see that sparkle in their eyes. It is truly why I do what I do, sharing my animals with people," he said.
Schonfeld said his thinking of a future changed over time into something he truly loves.
"Honestly, with my love for animals growing up, maybe I would work at a zoo or a vet office, but I must say, I like sharing my animals this way," he said.
For more information, contact Schonfeld at 317-696-8419 or firstname.lastname@example.org.