When Cookie, one of the most popular ponies at the zoo, passed away last fall, everyone asked, “Will you get another pony to replace Cookie?”
Byron Hooley, whose family operates the pony rides, was on the lookout for just the right pony all winter. He found her in Clara, an eight-year-old blonde and tan beauty.
“She just has the right personality,” Hooley said. “She’s nice and calm.”
A zoo pony’s job takes some getting used to. “She still has a lot to learn,” Hooley said of Clara. They have to get accustomed to crying children, peacocks, bulky diaper bags, and passing sirens, all of which can spook a little pony. The ponies also need to stand still while waiting for their next rider. “It can take two years before they get used to that,” Hooley says.
Then there’s the task of fitting in with the other ponies, who can be bossy or give a newcomer the cold shoulder. “Clara fit in pretty well right away,” Hooley said.
For the first few months, Hooley’s staff will lead Clara while she gives rides to kids. Eventually, Hooley hopes she’ll be able to take young riders on her own, just like Cookie did. “Clara’s got big shoes to fill,” Hooley said, “but we think she can get there.”
Give Clara a friendly zoo welcome on our Facebook page!