Stew Leonard's Reopens Petting Zoos -- With Upgrades

NORWALK, Conn. -- Stew Leonard's here has reopened the Stew's Little Farm petting zoo attraction at three of its stores for the season, the summer after a sheep died last year at the Norwalk farm during an August heat wave.

The retailer made various renovations to the Norwalk location, undertaken with input from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including the addition of more ventilation in the shelters, more shaded areas, and misters and sprinklers to keep the concrete enclosure cooler. Additionally, the store adopted a centralized record-keeping system for the company's three farms at its stores in Norwalk, Danbury, Conn., and Yonkers, N.Y.; created a basic animal first-aid kit; and extended the hours of on-site care at the enclosures; among other improvements.

Stew Leonard's chief food safety officer, Barbara Bucknam, has been placed in charge of all of the farms.

The farms opened in mid-May, with the Norwalk store opening last because of the extra renovations there.

"The animals are very much part of the Stew Leonard's family, and are very much loved and cared for," v.p. of public relations Meghan Flynn told Progressive Grocer, noting how much families enjoy coming to feed the animals, and how eagerly customers looked forward to the Norwalk farm's reopening in particular, because of the delay.

Additionally, the company has opted not to feature sheep in the enclosures anymore, since they "don't do as well" in extremely hot temperatures, said Flynn.

The sheep's death, believed to be from heatstroke, was the first fatality at the farm in the store's 37-year history.
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