Chamberlin Pony Rides & Mobile Petting Zoo - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - Ann Arbor, MI
Chamberlin Pony Rides - & Mobile Petting Zoo
About Us
 
We began our company with a great love for farm animals and children. We have been operating since 2000 in Michigan and have brought many smiles to children's faces!
 
We believe in giving back to the community and the animals that have bring us so much joy.

How do you know Chamberlin is the BEST?  Visit us on  Facebook, over 3,000 Fans can't be wrong!


 
Frequently Asked Questions
 
If you have never hired a pony ride or petting zoo company before, you may not know what questions to ask.  What makes one company different from another. 
 
 You should ask the following questions:
 
  1. Do you travel to my location? 
  2. Are we allowed to go in with the animals and pet them?
  3. Is it an interactive petting zoo? Do you provide food for us to feed the animals?
  4. Is there a weight limit for ponies?
  5. How much space is needed?
  6. What types of animals will you bring?
  7. What company are you insured with?
  8. Will you still come if it rains?
  9. What is your cancellation policy?
 
 Do you offer parties in the WINTER?
YES!  Visit our "WINTER BIRTHDAY PARTY" page for more information. Chamberlin is the ONLY company in Michigan offering to set up a heated tent in winter months.
 
Do you come to us or may we come to your location?
It's your choice.  We can come to your location (even in the winter with heated tents) or you may come to our farm for a "party on the farm."  Our farm is located in Howell.
 
Do you travel to all locations?
Some petting zoo companies won't go into Detroit. Chamberlin does not discriminate against any area of Michigan.  We will gladly bring our animals to you.  We find the inner city children are the ones who enjoy our animals the most.  We enjoy seeing smiles on their faces!
 
Are we allowed to actually feed the animals?
ABSOLUTELY!  We strongly believe it provides a  memorable opportunity (and great pictures) for the children to be allowed to feed our animals.  Our animals are all very used to being with and accepting food from small hands.  We  bring special food for the animals to eat, and antibacterial hand sanitizer for the children to clean their hands with.

Note: Please let us know if you have any children with special allergies to oats and we will bring carrot sticks for them to feed the animals. 
 
Do animals associate people with food?
Some petting zoo companies feel that animals associating people with food is bad.  We wholeheartedly disagree!  Does your pet dog or cat associate you with food?  We aren't rehabilitating animals to be returned to the wild, our animals are bottle raised and are bonded with humans from birth.  We firmly believe this allows our clients to experience a closeness with the animals.   We are proudly a PETTING zoo not a VIEWING zoo!

Are we allowed to go INSIDE with the animals?
YES!  We bring a variety of petting zoo enclosure fences.  We allow children and adults to GO INSIDE the enclosure with the animals and feed and pet them.  

We even set up a "baby zoo" at every party.  This area is where we keep the smaller animals, - ducks, chickens, bunnies.  This allows our little visitors to go inside and not feel intimidated with a larger animal walking up to them.

All of our animals are trained and well behaved, they will not  jump up on a child.

Are the animals tied to a stake in my yard?
NO!  It's very dangerous to stake an animal in your yard. Children may be easily injured on the stake or trip on the rope. Our insurance company does not approve of staked out animals.

For your safety, we offer a full "walk in" petting zoo.  We set up portable corrals in your yard or even inside on tarps or on concrete. 
  
Is there an age or weight limit for the pony rides? Our ponies and saddles are intended for children up to 8 years old, and/or up to 65 lbs. We have many options regarding pony or horse size.  We use miniature horses, fitted with small saddles, to cater to our little clients’ needs. This creates a safer and less intimidating experience for young and/or timid riders.  Or, we also have larger ponies that can accommodate children up to about 80 pounds.  We even offer a full size horses for older siblings or event adults who would like to experience the ride they can accommodate up to about 150 pounds. 

How do we keep pony rides safe? Chamberlin is deeply committed to safety. Each pony is hand-led by an experienced handler.  We walk next to each child, and with small or timid children, we hold onto the back of the saddle for their safety and comfort.  We also will provide (if requested) each child with an ASTM/SEI certified safety helmet when riding our ponies. Each helmet is adjusted to fit snugly and disinfected before every event.  Most importantly, our ponies and horses are calm, even-tempered and friendly.  They are confident by nature and easily adjust to the many new environments they visit.  We have our own Safety Director on our Chamberlin staff. 
 
How much space do we need for the pony rides?
Because our ponies are hand-led, we can be creative with our pony rides, so long as the ground is relatively level and the environment is safe.  We suggest you pretend you are walking an extra large dog and see if you can create a good walking route.  We can walk around play equipment, but for safety reasons, ask that it not be used during the rides. 
 
Payment options 
We charge a very fair and competitive price for guaranteed excellent service. Please contact our reservations office for current price information.
 
Deposit
We require only a $50 deposit to hold your party date.  This deposit will go toward your party price.  We accept all major credit and debit cards.  Final cash payment is due on the day of your event. If you need to reschedule your event for any reason, you NEVER loose your deposit money. You may apply it to a future event date. 
 
OPTIONAL PREPAYMENT PLAN:  You may choose to make payments each week (or as often as you like) to prepay for all or part of you event.  You may pay with any major credit or debit card. This allows some of our customers to budget for their party.  Your entire payment is refundable if you decide to cancel for any reason.
 
 Petting Zoo
 
How much space do I need for the petting zoo?
Deluxe Petting Zoo  (For large events or festivals) can be 8'x16' or 16'x16' (there is no additional charge for the larger size.) 
Complete Petting Zoo used in a Backyard Birthday Event:  takes up about a 10'x10" area and is a wire panel system that can be arranged to accommodate the area we are provided.The ground needs to be relatively level, we can place the panels on concrete or lawn.  We can even put them inside and put down tarps and straw. 
We include a "baby zoo" with every petting zoo. This is a small area where the little animals (bunnies, chickens and ducks) are located.  This allows a small child ages 1-3 the opportunity to go inside with the smaller animals and not be scared if a larger animal runs up on them.
 
* We include clean up in all our events.  When our crew leaves you won’t know we were there. (You may even have a more manicured lawn)
 
What types of animals are included with the zoo?
We typically bring a wonderful variety of animals: including your choice of a miniature horse for loving and brushing, miniature fallow deer, pot bellied pigs, alpacas, llamas (even llama rides), goats, sheep, rabbits, miniature cow, miniature donkey, miniature horse, chickens, roosters, and ducks.  We can even set up a “baby zoo” area for small children under 3 who may be intimidated by a larger animal.  We use small miniature ducks, chickens, and bunnies in the play area.
 
Are you Insured? Yes; we are fully insured for your protection.  Many people do not understand that when you bring farm animals on your city property your homeowners insurance does not cover you in most cases.  Therefore if there is an accident you may lose your home in a lawsuit.  You must ask every potential company when comparing if they will provide PROOF of current insurance.  This insurance is very expensive for reputable companies to purchase.  However, it is the difference between someone with a pony in their backyard going out uninsured and a reputable company providing you with quality, well trained, clean animals for your special event.
 
WARNING:  We just learned of a pony company in Michigan who does not have any insurance  coverage.  If you ask for proof of insurance from this company, they will send you a "fake certificate".  Don't be fooled!  Ask for the name and phone number of the insurance carrier they have.  Also ask that the insurance certificate (if needed for a public park location) be faxed directly from their insurance company NOT the pony company.
 
Do you provide hand sanitizer? Yes; hand sanitizer will be provided with appropriate disinfecting solutions available.  As a condition of our insurance, children must use hand sanitizer both before and after interacting with our animals.
 
What exactly is USDA licensed? We are licensed by the USDA under the Animal Welfare Act.  Our farm and enclosures, vet records and trailers are randomly inspected by a licensing official.  USDA does not guarantee the animals brought to your home by any petting zoo company are well trained or safe. They only inspect the farm to assure the animals food is kept off the ground, the animals receive regular inoculations and that the owner provides them with an ample and dry sleeping environment.
 
Chamberlin takes USDA animal health regulations one step further for your protection.  While the USDA serves a very important role in regulating farm animals, they do not regulate ponies or horses. They only inspect a company's petting farm animals. All Chamberlin event managers are required to have a licensed veterinarian inspect their farm annually.  This professional  assesses the condition of all equine (horses and ponies) on the farm.  When you hire Chamberlin, we guarantee all of our animals are in top condition. This is done for the safety of your children.
 
Are your animals healthy and clean? Absolutely!  They are all vaccinated & dewormed as per our company veterinarian professionals recommendations & guidelines.  For their health and comfort, they are groomed, trimmed & bathed regularly.  We have a professional Veterinary Technician on our staff.  
 
Are you a licensed petting zoo?  There is no license needed to operate a petting zoo company.  ANYONE can call themselves a petting zoo company.  Don't gamble with your child's memories.  Hire Chamberlin for a guaranteed professional experience.

General Questions
 
What is your cancellation policy?  Recently we have been inundated with calls from frantic parents who reserved a party from a pony or petting zoo company and was contacted right before the party and told they were cancelled.  We regretfully need to warn people that there are companies who will accept your reservation and then cancel at the last minute if a better paying job comes along. 
 
Unfortunately, there are a few companies operating in the Detroit metro area who have a very bad reputation. This is a message to those companies. You know who you are...  Stop ruining children's dreams of a perfect birthday party, don't be so greedy, and be responsible and operate a respectable business.   You are ruining the children's party entertainment industry and the reputation of those companies like Chamberlin who do care!  If you continue with these irresponsible actions we will create a website exposing you for what you are.
 
What makes your company different from other pony ride & petting zoo companies? First of all, we are fully insured for your protection.  Secondly, we offer a very attractive petting corral that makes a great impression at your event.  But most importantly, we love our animals and it shows!  We do not breed them for resale.  Each animal that we adopt/purchase is here to stay and given the highest quality food and regular vet care.  We receive many compliments on how much calmer, friendlier and interactive our animals are than other zoos our guests have been to.  

What is your policy if it rains? We will gladly work with you up until the morning of your event to determine if we need to cancel due to poor weather.  We understand that Michigan weather is often very unpredictable and changes frequently.  We are prepared in the event of rain by bringing a tent for the petting farm and umbrellas to walk the ponies or horses.  If the weather is not safe, i.e.: tornado warning or lightning storm, we will provide you with the option of canceling your party or rescheduling to another day.
 
We want to have our child's party in a park.  Is this okay? In most cases, yes.  We ask our clients to verify with local park administrators, or city officials to make sure they have permission to have ponies and farm animals at their event location.  We will provide proof of insurance, if necessary.  We can also obtain a certificate of "Additional Insured Named" if required at no additional cost to you.   Your insurance certificate will come directly from our insurance company.
 
What do you do with your animals when they retire?
When our animals become unwilling or unable to come to petting zoos, or give pony rides, they are allowed to just stay home and enjoy their retirement!  We do not sell them or give them away.  As we have stated before, they are our pets and they have been promised a forever home.
 
Who is "Chamberlin Pony Rides"?  We do not "farm out our parties" to our friends or to other companies.  Nor, are  "Ma and Pa" family with a pony wanting to make a quick extra buck!  When you hire Chamberlin Pony Rides YOU GET a professional, qualified, trained Chamberlin Pony Rides event manager. Each one has been carefully chosen and trained to provide the BEST service in Michigan.  We have been VOTED #1 in Michigan!

Where is the Chamberlin reservations office located? Our professional event managers farms are located in the Howell and Ann Arbor area of Michigan.  Our FRIENDLY and professional reservations team is located in Howell Michigan and ready to help you plan your perfect day.  Our administrative offices are located on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Who are Chamberlin Event Managers?  Our event managers are all carefully chosen for their professionalism and have proven to comply with our very high standards.
Each one has been thoroughly trained and are expected to uphold the highest standards of any pony ride / petting zoo company in Michigan.   If they are unable to comply with our very strict standards of service and ethics they will no longer be associated with Chamberlin Pony Rides.
Every one of our professional event managers are also parents.  They understand the importance of a "perfect birthday party". 

When you hire Chamberlin Pony Rides that is exactly WHO you will get.
 
What does that mean to you?  There is no regulation for petting zoo or pony ride companies in Michigan.   ANYONE can hang a shingle and call themselves a professional company.  When you hire Chamberlin, you may rest assured you will be proud of the people and animals who come to your home and interact with your children.  
Were not going to call and cancel your party just before your big day, were parents ourselves and take pride in our work.  Most importantly we are not going to bring our own small children with us to disrupt your private party. Nor are we going to get into "loud discussions" with our partners at your party.  Perhaps you have had this type of "pony person" at your party in the past and understand how we feel.  If your reading this and are insulted.  Then you need to get out of this type of business and stop ripping off Michigan's families!   This was written in September of 2012 and we, as a company, have never been more outraged by the actions of certain pony companies in Michigan!
 
WE ARE PROFESSIONAL!
 
 
Please contact us at:  734-780-5800
 
We look forward to making your day special.
 
 

Thank you!
Sally Van Buren 
Reservation Manager