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5 Surprising Kids’ Farm Animal Facts

Think ewe know all there is to know about goats, pigs, donkeys and moooo-re? These Kids’ Farm animal facts may have you stumped!

1. The alpaca predates the Inca Empire.

A close-up of a beige alpaca's face

This small relative of the camel has a slender body, lanky legs and a long neck, and is covered from head to toe in soft fleece.

Researchers believe that the alpaca was developed through selective breeding more than 6,000 years ago! It was domesticated by the Andean people centuries before the Incas as a source of fuel, meat and fiber.

Bonus: Alpacas have no top front teeth. Their upper and lower incisors and lower canines develop into fighting teeth, or fangs, that can be more than an inch long.

2. Channel catfish are covered in taste buds.

Catfish don’t just taste with their mouths; their bodies are covered in taste receptors that help them locate food in muddy, murky water! The highest concentration of taste receptors is on the catfish’s barbels, or whiskers.

Pale-colored fish with pronounced whiskers and open mouths swimming at the water's surface

Though channel catfish are typically a gray-blue color, in rare instances they may carry recessive alleles that result in a lack of pigmentation. You can see these peach-colored, albino channel catfish at Kids’ Farm!

3. Only a few hundred San Clemente Island goats can be found worldwide.

Among the more than 200 recognized domestic goat breeds, the San Clemente Island goat is one of the rarest. This critically endangered breed developed from feral goats that were isolated on the 57-acre island of San Clemente (about 70 miles west of San Diego, California).

A goat laying down to rest on a platform with grass in the background

By 1972, more than 15,000 goats roamed the small island, devastating its ecosystem. The goats were mostly eradicated in an effort to restore the island’s natural habitat, but a handful were brought back to the mainland to be re-domesticated.

These deer-like goats sport tan to dark-red coats with black markings, and both males and females grow horns.

4. Miniature donkeys are naturally pint-sized.

Petite white horselike creature grazing on green grass

Unlike some animals that are intentionally bred to be tiny (like the toy poodle) miniature donkeys are naturally small. These “mini” donkeys max out at 3 feet tall at their withers (the highest point of their back) and can weigh as little as 200 pounds, whereas standard donkeys average 4 feet tall and weigh up to 500 pounds.

Did you know? Male donkeys are called jacks and females are called jennets.

5. Ossabaw Island hogs have a form of low-grade diabetes.

ossabaw hog

Domesticated Spanish pigs escaped on Ossabaw Island, Georgia, where the feral animals eventually became their own subspecies. Ossabaw Island hogs are smaller than typical pigs but have a unique metabolism that allows them to store a larger proportion of fat, which helps them survive the spring season when the island offers little to eat.

In conjunction with added fat storage, these hogs also develop a natural form of low-grade, noninsulin-dependent diabetes, which makes them valuable to medical research.

Stop by Kids’ Farm at 11 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. for a daily Keeper Talk. And don’t miss the Farm’s other feathered, finned and furry residents, including new Holstein calf Magnolia!