Growing up at Rolling Ridge Ranch: Baby animals spotlight the season
by Jenna Polen
The rolling hills of Amish Country are known to be filled with monstrous amounts of comfort food, homemade quilts and quality goods. But to the surprise of many, you can find a park full of zebras, buffalo, antelope, lemurs, camels and so much more, nestled in the hills of Amish Country.
Started in 1996, Rolling Ridge Ranch is a locally owned family business that brings a full park of entertainment and hundreds of exotic animals to the small town of Berlin. Currently owned by Rueben and Orin Mast, sons of original owner, the park continues to grow, and more and more people are coming each year.
“My dad started the park in 1996 with a small amount of animals. We always had different animals when we were growing up and he wanted to open it up to the public. We probably had about 200 animals when we started and now we are up to a head count of 600 animals and we are growing,” said Mast.
This time of year especially is when new baby animals are being born, and people are beginning to come back for the summer season.
“This time of year is when we get a lot of babies born and brought into the park. It’s also our busy season because kids are getting out of school and more and more people are coming to Berlin,” said Mast.
Every kind of animal can be found in the park, not to mention the many animals from over 60 different countries that are found while riding through the habitat on their wagon rides. The park has over 80 acres filled with beautiful scenery and animals running free, including babies as young as three or four days old, and an even more rare white buffalo.
“We have a lot of baby ducks, buffalo, kangaroos, fawns, antelope, llamas, birds and so much more. We have a lot of animals and we always have a good amount coming in during the busy season. We normally breed animals here or trade among other parks,” said Mast.
As people arrive, they are put on large horse-drawn wagons to go through two-mile journey with a driver at hand. The driver stops to have passengers feed animals, explain a little about each animal, and to answer any questions.
“I love being with the people and driving the horses through the park. Once you get to know all the animals, it’s a really fun job,” said driver Melvin Miller.
After the wagon ride, the park offers a petting zoo and a variety of animals to pet, feed and look at, including baby goats, pot belly pigs, turtles, ducklings, and even an alligator. Picnic tables are available to bring a lunch and eat, and a gift shop is even open to purchase mementos from the day.
“The great thing about our park is the variety of things. It’s not just a wagon ride through to see animals. There are other things to do,” said Mast.
Mast and his crew are used to the familiar faces of people who frequent each year from all over the world. Ria Kwakernaak, from Holland, was with a large group of people who are in the states for two weeks. During their two weeks, a stop was made to Berlin. She said, “We really wanted to see the culture here and learn about the Amish people. This park was to our surprise, but the people were very helpful and friendly and it’s not something I get to see at home.”
“A lot of times, we’ll have people bring their kids here and tell me that they were here when they were their age. We’ve been around long enough to bring a tradition for the families who come here,” said Mast.
For more photos of Rolling Ridge Ranch and a video of the animals, visit the Ohio's Amish Country Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/OhiosAmishCountry.