One of the rarest forms of water buffalo in the world can be found right here in Reston at Roer’s Zoofari.
The zoo (1228 Hunter Mill Road) recently acquired a pair of lowland anoa, endangered dwarf water buffalo from Indonesia that are so rare there are only about 70 in the United States.
“We work with several breeding programs to ensure that the Zoofari has adequate environments for these threatened, endangered or even vulnerable animals,” said Vanessa Stoffel, one of the zoo’s owners.
Anoa are characterized by their small, stocky bodies covered with thick, dark hair. They almost look like a brown cattle crossed with a woodland deer. They eat aquatic plants, ferns and grasses. Similarly to other water buffalo, they like to bathe in pools of water and mud.
While the species is technically protected under Indonesian law, its endangered status comes from hunting and habitat loss. In the past, their skulls and horns have been harvested by these hunters and sold for use in traditional medicine.
Visitors to the former Reston Zoo can enjoy the rare animals in a new barnyard area that has lots of fresh air for the animals. Another new addition is the use of buses to transport guests around the zoo, instead of the tractors that were formerly used.
“It was getting difficult to find someone who could control a tractor in Reston,” Stoffel said.
The buses are easier to maintain, she said, and visitors can still experience alpacas and other animals walking up to the buses as they go on the Zoofari.
The zoo also features an interactive exhibit with a camel and giraffe. At certain times, visitors can pay $5 to feel the animals. Patrons are able to go up close and personal with the animals during these encounters.
“If you hold your palm flat [to the camel], he’ll even give you kisses,” said zookeeper Alisha Benack as she monitored the camel encounter. On cue, the camel kissed and nuzzled her just as friendly as a dog would.
Roer’s Zoofari is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with times for special exhibits and encounters available daily. Visit its website for ticket information or call 703-757-6222.
Toll Road Ramp Detour Starts This Weekend — The ramp from the eastbound Dulles Toll Road to the Fairfax County Parkway will be diverted through the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride parking lot. The detour is expected to remain in place through 2017 to allow Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project crews to perform utility and road work on the ramp. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]
Wombat Hoax Spreads on Twitter — A Twitter account posing as Roer’s Zoofari has been claiming this week that a wombat escaped from the zoo. A lot of people fell for the gag. [Reston Patch]
Trip to Pro Tennis Match Slated — Reston Association will have a group outing Tuesday night to see Martina Hingis and the Washington Kastles face the New York Empire. [Reston Association]
Sobriety Checkpoint Saturday Night — Police departments from Fairfax and Loudoun counties will be working together at a sobriety checkpoint Saturday night from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. in the Centreville/Chantilly area. [Fairfax County Police Department]
The zoo (formerly the Reston Zoo at 1228 Hunter Mill Road) at is ready be filled with more than 40 lantern sets and 800 bright displays as part of its ongoing Chinese Lantern Festival starting Nov. 16.
Visitors will be transported throughout the world as they walk among Chinese lanterns shaped like lions, tigers, monkeys and even dinosaurs.
Touted as “a modern take on the ancient art of lantern-making,” the festival will include artisans, craftsmen and performers. In addition to viewing the glowing artwork displays, visitors can watch live martial arts shows and shop for souvenirs and gifts made by folk artists.
“Twenty artists from China will work on-site at Roers Zoofari for weeks in a temporary ‘lantern factory’ to create exquisite scenes that include animals from throughout the world,” reads a press release for the event. “From lions to dinosaurs, giraffes to whales–even a herd of zebra’s–figures will form dreamscapes of color and motion.”
The Chinese Lantern Festival will run from Wednesday, Nov. 16 through Sunday, Jan. 1. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children over 3.
Photo courtesy of Chinese Lantern Festival
Roer’s Zoofari (formerly The Reston Zoo) is holding a fall festival with a twist this weekend and next.
Oct. 22-23 and Oct. 29-30 are Roer’s Giraffe-Tober Fest. For a $20 admission, visitors can meet Roer’s newest animal, Waffles the giraffe, and participate in some fall farm fun, including:
- Pick-Your-Own Pumpkin Patch
- Kids Zone w/Bounce House
- Giraffe Feeding
- Safari Wagon Ride
- Scarecrow Competition
- Carnival Games
Giraffe-Tober Fest’s Kids Zone is sponsored by the Russian School of Mathematics. Part of the proceeds will go to giraffe conservation efforts.
Roer’s is also holding a trick-or-treat event Oct. 29 to 31.
Kids can come “enjoy a very-not-scary Halloween at the zoo” from 5 to 7 p.m. The bounce house will be open, and there will be games and trick-or-treating. Adults and kids under 2: Free; $10 for kids over age 2. Half price for season pass holders.
Roer’s Zoofari, which was purchased and renamed in March, is located at 1228 Hunter Mill Road.
Purchase advance tickets to Giraffe-Tober Fest online.
Photo: Waffles the Giraffe and a young visitor/Credit: Roer’s Zoofari