For those searching for the elusive African endiman goose or the Polish frizzle bantam the trail ended in Innisfail this past weekend.
Innisfail Auction Mart and Ty’s Exotics joined to offer an exotic bird and small animal auction that ran Friday and Saturday.
The stands were full of potential buyers and the merely curious as hundreds of birds, rabbits, pigs, hedgehogs, and even wallabies and kangaroos were sold to the highest bidder.
Larissa Shoop and her family came all the way from Okotoks to join in the fun. Her family brought their camper to spend the night and Larissa volunteered to help care for the animals and cart around the dozens of screened boxes they were kept in.
“My mom and I love birds,” said the 12-year-old, as she cuddled with an emu.
“I want to grow up to be a vet. I volunteered so I could be around the animals.”
Another youngster Morganne Poissant came with her family to find some more animals to add to their menagerie on an acreage near Red Deer.
They had already added another rabbit to the three they had at home and were looking at other potential additions to their collection that includes pigs, chickens goats, a horse and pony, and cats.
“I like seeing all the animals and petting them,” said Poissant, who listed baby quails, peacocks and ducklings among her personal favourites.
The family’s chickens provide eggs and the goats milk. The rabbits and pigs will eventually end up on the dinner table.
Ty Marshall, of Ty’s Exotics, has been interested in exotic species since he was four years old and went with his family to a sale, he said.
“We bought quite a bit of stuff and it just went from there,” said the 20-year-old from the Vulcan area.
His two-day Innisfail sale drew 250 registered buyers, some of whom travelled as far as Vancouver, Winnipeg and Whitehorse.
Interest in exotic species is growing, he said.
“There’s getting to be a lot of people interested. It’s a good hobby for people.”
In Red Deer, a pilot project allowing urban chickens was begun this year allowing up to six chickens to be raised at residential homes.
It was driven by public demand to follow the lead of other communities.
Forty homes are participating in the project, which runs until the end of next March, when it will be evaluated.
Marshall said the weekend auction is the second he has done in Innisfail this year after an earlier event in May. He plans to make the auctions in Innisfail a regular event.