The Local Exchange: Northern Minnesota petting zoo connects animals with people

This is the KBJR 6 Today weekday morning newscast (5-5:30am)
Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 11:33 AM CST
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COOK, MN -- (KBJR) - Cook’s Country Connection is a lively place.

Lois Pajari has more than 60 animals.

“We have the rabbits here,” Pajari said. “Then we have the pigs. Then we’ve got miniature horses. Miniature donkeys. Goats. Sheep. Alpacas. Llamas. Over there are the peacocks and peahens. The ducks and this is ducks and chickens.”

Pajari’s day job wasn’t always farming.

She used to own a business in downtown Cook until a fire destroyed it in 2013.

“I really had no plan,” Pajari said. “Are you kidding me? All I know is after the fire is I needed a project. So I have myself a project.”

Pajari used that tragedy as an opportunity.

“I’ve been adopting and rescuing misfit animals my whole life, and my sister said ‘You already have a petting zoo, just set hours and charge admission,’” she said.

Taking care of all these animals takes a lot of work, but Pajari said there are a lot of people willing to help out.

“It’s just an army of volunteers of people that come in and pitch in,” she said.

An army of people helps Pajari do what she loves on land that she loves.

The farm is on 120 acres that have been in her family for more than 120 years.

“They applied for homestead October 31, 1900, and it was the Homestead Act of 1862,” Pajari said.

The land is a homestead filled with history.

“I try to be a good steward of the farm: make sure that I am being responsible with the resources that are here,” Pajari said.

Cook’s Country Connection is now used to make connections between people, animals, and the land.

“I want them to feel welcome,” Pajari said. “I want them to feel a part of it. Hopefully learn a little something along the way.”

Cook’s Country Connection closed for the season last week, but they will open back up to the public in May.

Click here for more information.

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