The Smoky Mountain deer farm and petting zoo, located in beautiful Sevierville, Tennessee, is a one of a kind experience that allows guests of all ages to get hands on with a unique variety of animals (not only deer!). Visitors can even ride horses through a trail that winds its way through the base of the Smoky Mountains.
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The deer farm, petting zoo, and stables was inspired by a visit to a deer farm in Arizona that the founders happened upon in 1977. Ten years later, the founders re-visited the farm and spoke with the owners to discuss how to go about opening one and any of the pitfalls of owning that type of attraction. Eight years after that, in 1988, the farm was opened on the 143 acres of land in Tennessee that the family had purchased hopefully in 1985. The grounds have been going strong since then, mainly due to the family’s love and care for their animals. The animals are taken care of with top-notch veterinary and staff care, and the family is constantly researching how to make the experience better for both the animals and the people who visit. It is obviously that they truly love what they do.
Permanent Attractions and Exhibits
Petting Zoo: The petting zoo located at the deer farm is more than just being able to pet some of the deer located on the premises. It is a unique and up-close look at elk, baby goats, camels… and even baby zebras, “zonkies,” and kangaroos! Cameras are not only welcomed but encouraged to preserve the memory of the visit. There are hand-washing stations located just outside and also inside the petting zoo for both guests and the animals' safety. A fun tip is to visit from the end of May through July, since this is when the elk calves and fawns are out. There is an admission fee, which is offered a discount for children. Feed cups are available for guests who want to feed the animals as well, and the cups are also souvenirs to take home afterward.
Pony rides: One of the highlights of a trip to the farm for many of the children who visit is taking a pony ride. Parents and/or guardians will lead the ponies around a sandy track while the children sit on the saddle. Rides are all 100% refundable, as some children change their minds after the ticket is purchased and get too afraid to ride. Children riders must be 100 pounds or less, and no taller than 56 inches.
Riding stables: For older children and adults who want to branch out on their own on horseback, check out the riding stables. Children older than five can ride on their own, while children under five can “double up” and ride with an adult. All horses are well loved and cared for, and experienced trail guides will help lead riders down the trail. Reservations are accepted but walk-ins are also welcomed. There is a 250-pound weight limit. Guests can choose from a 30, 45, or 60-minute trail ride.
With the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, the petting zoo, pony rides, and riding stables are open all year round, all week long, from 10am to 5:30pm. Guests should also keep an eye on the website for coupons, as they are occasionally available for discounted admission and horse rides.
One of the more exciting educational opportunities in the area, the deer farm and petting zoo regularly welcomes field trips and scouting groups to the premises. This can be a great way to get students and children in general interested and excited about the care of animals, and being able to get up close and personal with them is a great way to learn about them in a literal hands-on way. Contact the staff at the farm and stables to arrange a visit as well as to see if they offer any discounted group admissions or can reserve an area for the group prior to the visit. With prior arrangement, the staff can even lead groups through the petting zoo, go over veterinary care of the animals, and discuss specific information about the animals located at both the petting zoo and the riding stables. Call the staff for further information.
Although there is no gift shop available on the premises, souvenir cups are available at the petting zoo and are a great way to remember the visit. There is a 32-ounce option as well as a 22-oz. option that also glows in the dark. Take one home and drink out of it for years to come!
Smoky Mountain Deer Farm, 478 Happy Hollow Lane, Sevierville, TN, 37876, Phone: 865-428-3337