Action Wildlife Foundation, Inc. offers residents of CT, MA and NY the unusual opportunity of observing and learning about animals from North America, Africa, India, New Zealand, Asia and the Artic. Not only is a visit to AW an education in animal life and habitats, it is also a fun activity for children to touch and feed the smaller animals in our petting zoo. Older children and young adults are sure to be intrigued by the museum gallery.

Formerly a dairy farm set on 116 acres of land, the transformation into Action Wildlife is the result of one man’s impetus and entrepreneurial spirit – Jim Mazzarelli. Mr. Mazzarelli began preparing the land about 8 years ago so that exotic animals from around the world could survive and prosper in Goshen, Connecticut. The animals that are selected to join the cast at AW easily adapt to varying extremes in climate and landscape. Several breeds of animals have the capability to develop thicker coats during the colder months and then revert to thinner coats during the warmer months. Those animals with thinner coats are sheltered in a barn throughout the colder New England winter months.

From a roadside view it is apparent the amount of time, planning, money and sweat that has gone into the development of the facility. As a non-profit organization all fees charged for admission, hayrides, pumpkin sales and petting zoo visits are applied to the overall costs incurred, which when estimated covers only 25 percent of our total cost to feed and maintain the animals, including veterinary fees and farm equipment costs. A veterinarian technician is on site 40 hours per week to feed, exercise and care for the general over-all health of the animals. All animals are vaccinated according to FDA regulations and individual attention is given to the specific types of food fed to different animals. There are over 10 different types of grain and feed mixtures available, so knowing the diet for one animal and how it differs from the diet for the next animal, makes feeding time a critical part of each day.

Several development projects are under construction. Beginning in early spring, our more docile animals (such as the American elk and Bison) will be moved up front, making them more visible when passersby view the foundation from the road. These sections have been enclosed with wire and piping that runs the extent of the encasement. Also, within this same area, towards the back section, Ibex goats will be featured. These goats are excellent climbers, who are sure to enjoy the rock mountain erected specifically with them in mind. This large edifice was built over a period of five months, designed to provide a natural shelter for the goats. When touring the facility we suggest that visitors pay special attention to the waterfall to the back of the mountain. This generator-powered waterfall keeps the water from becoming stagnant. The Ibexes will always have fresh water to drink. Thank you, Mr. Jim!

Guests touring the foundation on a seasonal hayride, excluding winter months, have the opportunity of viewing more than 32 species of exotic animals from around the world, from Africa’s Aoudad to the Zebu of Asia’s grassy plains. No tour at the farm is complete without a peppy tour guide to relate facts on the animals and keep the energy fun. Questions are always welcome and guests are encouraged to voice their interests. And then there is our tractor driver, who is none other than the owner himself, Jim Mazzarelli, or another equally adroit driver.

When touring the eastern section of the foundation, visitors marvel at our collection of huge tires. These tires are intended for use in a playscape that has been projected for completion within the next few years. In addition to this playscape, the picnic areas will be expanded so that in time, AW can represent a composite package of fun and education for individuals, couples, families and groups.

School groups routinely appreciate the conveniences of guided tours, picnic areas and visits to our petting barn and museum gallery. For the past three years, schools across Connecticut have planned field trips at AW with appreciative teachers commenting on the positive reactions they have witnessed in their students. Seeing the students interact with nature is cause to smile, since many of the schools visiting the foundation are located in inner city areas. Students attending these schools may have little if any opportunity to experience the countryside, farm life or the sights, sounds and smells of animals in nature. They also benefit from the hands-on knowledge offered to them by those who work at the farm.

The employees at AW are versatile individuals, often performing more than one specialty on the farm, from feeding and exercising the animals, to serving as guides. Others are responsible for tourism planning and detailing animal histories in print and on our website. Then you have the fix-it types who make digging ditches, lying pipe or running wire fences seem a leisurely effort.

It is not difficult then to imagine the time involved with upkeep. Now, think of the strides taken to consistently produce ideas for new development and expansion projects. And now, think bigger and bigger with each of those projects. Now you are getting an idea of the scope with which Jim Mazzarelli envisions for the future of AW. This Goshen farm situated behind a marvel of stonewalls just keeps on growing. Such demonstration of growth was never projected to be a one-stage process. Instead, it speaks of one person’s desire to produce a community-shared legacy from a passionate vision.