Childhood passion kept alive at WCS’s Children’s Zoo

Stephanie Scanzillo, resident of Pelham Parkway, spends time each day at the Bronx Zoo to appreciate all the animals and occupants of the Children’s Zoo. Photo by Victor Chu

It is believed by many that man’s best friend is a dog, but one woman from the Bronx believes goats can do the job just as well.

A typical day in the life of Stephanie Scanzillo begins with work, but unlike most people who walk their pets when they return home, Scanzillo visits her companions each day at the Bronx Zoo.

“The Children’s Zoo should get more publicity,” stated the Pelham Parkway resident. “It is a fun place to take kids, adults, and seniors.”

Stephanie Scanzillo, 56, has been a member of the Bronx Zoo since she was a young girl, and continues to take advantage of all the Wildlife Conservation Society has to offer.

Scanzillo’s passion for animals was an outgrowth of her frequent trips to Indiana to visit relatives. While there she would often stop by a nearby farm, and by the age of 5 was playing with the animals and contributing to the farm work.

With the openings of high-profile zoo exhibits such as the Butterfly Garden, Congo, and the new Madagascar, Scanzillo is concerned that zoo-goers may forget to acknowledge the classic components, such as the petting zoo and its friendly occupants.

Amongst her many goat buddies are Jack and his mother Christina, who both enjoy backrubs and hand feeding, Billy-Ray, the lady’s man of the bunch, the twins Dawn and Angel, Tuba and Madison, who are inseparable friends, and Axel the llama, amongst many others.

“The goats to me are like puppies, or dogs. People have a tendency to just go and look at them, but if you mingle with them and they see you all time its different,” said Scanzillo. “When I go to the Children’s Zoo, Jack knows he’s getting his back rubbed.”

Here in the Children’s Zoo, kids are provided the opportunity to interact with and feed the animals, allowing them to get acquainted with the goats.

“Most of the people who visit don’t know all the animals in the zoo have names,” explained Scanzillo. “When I tell the youngsters their names and help them interact, the kids’ eyes light up.”

Scanzillo makes it a point to visit the zoo each day, despite her busy schedule, and the animals await her arrival.

“I constantly go so I have made friends with the goats,” Scanzillo said, who volunteered to help set up the holiday lights for last years Winter Wonderland. “They each have their own personalities.”

Scanzillo has not only learned their names, but also the difference between their breeds, such as the Nubian goats and Pygmy goats, both featured in the petting zoo.

“People come from all over the world, speaking all languages, and can still get a good feeling out of this,” said Scanzillo. “The petting zoo is relaxing and just makes you feel good.”

For more information on the Bronx Zoo or Wildlife Conservation Society visit www.bronxzoo.com.

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