By Meisha Johnson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Once a municipal nature center, the newly refurbished Paws Discovery Farm in Mount Laurel, Burlington County is hopping with beasts big and small, inside and out.

The nature center first opened in the 1970s. Over the years, they have added more things for kids to do and more animals to meet.

Now the farm has been christened Paws Discovery Farm and is run by the same private company that runs the Garden State Discovery Museum.

“We definitely are all about the animal encounter here,” said Kelly Lyons, executive director of Paws Discovery Farm.

Some animals live inside, such as the reptile collection.

“This is an old, over 200-year-old farmhouse. It was built in 1736,” Kelly said. “So we have been converting it over the last couple of months to our galleries for our smaller animals: snakes, lizards, turtles, geckos, water dragons, bearded dragons,” and more.

“I can tell you for those at home that are maybe scared of reptiles or don’t know much about them, this is the perfect setting to come in,” CBS3’s Meisha Johnson said. “You get them up close and personal.”

Many of the reptiles are rescues, including Ricardo the green iguana, who stretches more than four feet long. His tail is not to be trifled with.

“I don’t think people realize how powerful iguanas’ tails are,” Meisha said.

“That’s true!” Kelly said.

“That thing, we stay away from that,” Meisha said.

Kelly said, “We really want people to get up close and personal with nature, not only in our reptile house, but out in the woods, on our trails, and out in the barnyard.”

Outside, the Storybook Barnyard features many animals that kids would recognize from nursery rhymes and stories.

“I just found my new best friend,” Meisha said as she held a rooster to her chest.

Chaperoned children can come here and see the animals up close. Visitor Rachael Schwind was there with her 16-month-old son, Alden.

“He loves the pig so far, and the peacock has been a hit,” Rachael said.

Kelly said the barnyard’s baby herd is unique. “We have emus, pigs, lambs and a cow in our herd here.”

“I love how they’re all living together,” Meisha said.

“They all live together,” and they all get along, Kelly said.

Paws Discovery Farm is in Burlington County at 1105 Hainesport-Mount Laurel Road, Mount Laurel, NJ, 08054. It is open year-round, Monday through Sunday from 10:00am to 6:00pm.

For admission rates, special deals, and upcoming events, check the Paws Discovery Farm website at

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