By Chandler Lutz


MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (CBS) — From feathers to scales. From birds to the snakes. In the heart of Mount Laurel, there is a special place for nature lovers. It’s called Paws Discovery Farm and it’s filled with acres of family fun.

“We specialize in the intimate experience with nature,” Paws executive director Kelly Lyons said.

Paws Discovery Farm holds a lot of history. It’s not only a great place for kids and animal lovers but also a place to learn local Burlington County history.

The farm was once a municipal nature center that first opened in 1979. The nonprofit nature center is run by the same company that runs the Garden State Discovery Museum. The farm is also home to the Darnell House, known as one of the earliest houses in Burlington County. The Darnell House is now home to the farm’s reptiles and galleries.

“We have nine acres and over 250 animals,” Lyons said.

Animals of all shapes, sizes and stories.

Kelly showed CBS3 a yard that was home to a pig, a sheep, a goat and a zebu. Kelly explained that these were the original babies of Paws Discovery Farm.

“We tried to separate them species-specific and none of them want to go,” Lyons said.

Now, Wilbert, Libby, Lambert and Gaston all live in peace together here at Paw Discovery Farm.

The farm attracts people from all walks of life. There’s a couple from Hong Kong who brought their daughter to Paws for her first petting zoo experience.

“We liked it because she is just getting to know the animal noises and so they suggested we come here so she could have a real animal experience.” Katie Larson said.

“My favorite part of the job is just making a genuine connection with the animals. When you work with these guys every day you just see the value in these species and how important they are,” Paws Discovery Farm Zookeeper Sierra Thompson recalls why she loves her job. “It’s great seeing everyone else as interested and as passionate with it as I am.”

In addition, to seeing the animals up close, there are also other activities visitors can enjoy. You can search their Magical Woodland Trail for special gnomes, have a picnic in the Town Center Playground, or check out their Discovery Center equipped with a play area and gift shop. The Center also offers special “animal art classes” where children can learn more about the different species of the farm.

If you’re interested, Paws Discovery Farm offers ongoing summer camps as well as themed birthday parties. There are also opportunities to volunteer and be a member. The admission is $10, and there is a special discount for Mount Laurel Residents. Paws Discovery Farm is open year-round, every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.