A goat is the last thing you would expect to see while you are out shopping or grabbing a bite, but it’s possible you may make a goat’s acquaintance while you are out and about in Parkland thanks to Debbie Doolittle’s Indoor Petting Zoo.

Yes, you read that right—your eyes are not deceiving you. In Parkland, in an otherwise nondescript shopping center, is a haven for animal lovers of all ages. People travel far and wide (and year-round) so that they can mingle with zebus (miniature cows), lambs, wallabies, Flemish giants (huge bunnies), a toucan, capybaras, ponies, a sloth, and of course, the aforementioned goats.

Indoor Petting Zoo Employee and Little Lamb
Working at Debbie’s isn’t all fun and games…okay, maybe it is. Photo credit: Ily Goyanes

Owner Donnie Miller also owns a few farms so he rotates the roster of animals by taking some home for a few weeks while bringing others to the petting zoo for a spell. Regardless of who the players are in Debbie Doolittle’s current cast, you will be overwhelmed with a deep sense of wonder as you get to play with baby goats or nuzzle a capybara. Shell out a few bucks for a cup of vegetables to have the animals eating out of the palm of your hand—literally.

The capybaras are actually one of the biggest draws, attracting visitors from around the world. There are two types in Debbie’s family, the capybara and the smaller, Patagonian capybara. One family that was at the zoo during our visit had come from their home in Portland, Oregon, after reading about the indoor petting zoo online.

“My friend posted that they came here over Christmas. We knew that we needed to come,” says Marta Betts. “My husband has always dreamed of holding a capybara.”

Marta Betts feeds animals
Marta Betts serves dinner to her new friends. Photo credit: Ily Goyanes

Marta, her husband Andrew, and their son Evan, seemed to be having the time of their lives as Andrew and one of the capybaras posed for a picture and Evan observing that the wallaby “could jump.”

From its humble beginnings, Debbie Doolittle’s has always been about family. Owning and operating an indoor petting zoo was a dream of Donnie’s and his late wife, Debbie. Since opening, the zoo has become a resounding success, owning and operating the camel rides at Point Defiance Zoo and planning to expand by adding aquatic animals such as starfish and otters to the zoo. Unfortunately, Debbie passed just as the business was starting to stand on its own legs.

“Eight years ago, we were homeless, we had the animals in trailers and made a lot of money during the summer,” says Donnie. “We maxed out our credit cards so that we could open the indoor petting zoo.”

Debbie Doolittle's Indoor Petting Zoo
The Patagonian capybara is the smaller cousin of the capybara, which is the largest rodent in the world. Photo credit: Ily Goyanes

People throw baby showers, gender reveal parties, wedding showers, graduation celebrations and birthdays at Debbie’s. You can rent the “party barn” and enjoy unlimited petting zoo time with your guests. Or have the party come to you with the zoo’s incredibly affordable “Zoo to You” package, which includes 10 zoo animals to frolic around with on your special day.

One of our favorite party options is the “after hours” choice in which the zoo is closed to anyone but you and your party. Make sure to book your event way ahead of time because the party barn is incredibly popular. In fact, on Saturdays and Sundays there are usually four parties per day. On top of all these great reasons to visit Debbie’s, there is one more…

Indoor Petting Zoo Parkland
After a long day, the lambs and goats need a nap—especially young Cupcake (center). Photo credit: Ily Goyanes

Goat yoga! If you can imagine yourself in the downward dog position with a pygmy goat using your body as a platform, you can imagine how popular Debbie’s “yoga with goats” is. If you sign up, you might just see us there.

For hours of operation, cost of admission and party rental information, visit the zoo’s website, or visit all the cute animals at 120 138th Street South.