Fort Rickey unveils goat milk product as it seeks to weather pandemic

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To help make ends meet, Fort Rickey Discovery Zoo is selling a line of handmade goat milk soap.

“After COVID-19 hit, we started brainstorming ways to generate revenue and keep these animals fed,” owner Rebecca Stedman said.

Stedman said she and her family have been making and using goat milk soap for years, so it only made sense to sell it. The product is safe and beneficial for those with sensitive skin or skin conditions.

“We know it’s a good product, and we’re ready to share it,” she said.

Made from Fort Rickey’s own doe goats, a bar of soap is going for $5 each plus shipping and tax.

Fort Rickey has been building up a stock of goat milk all year long, pasteurizing it and freezing it before spending this past winter building up a good supply of soap.

It’s just soap, for now, Stedman said, but there are thoughts of doing lotions in the future.

When asked if there were any plans to make other goat milk-related items such as cheeses and yogurts, Stedman said there wasn’t because it’s a whole different kind of process they’re not set up for.

“We may look into lotions and lip balms, but the product we know and love and highly recommend is the soap,” Stedman said. “And all of them are made with natural ingredients and aren’t watered down.”

Stedman said the only ingredients are milk, saponified natural oils that are good for the skin, and essential oils for scents.

“The coconut vanilla has been our biggest hit so far, and balsam fir has been good, too,” Stedman said.

“It’s definitely going to help us out since we’re struggling due to COVID-19.”

Stedman admitted that COVID-19 had hit Fort Rickey hard, and the Zoo is struggling — but she remains optimistic.

“I’m not going to lie. It’s pretty bad. We’ve gotten into some pretty serious debt to stay afloat, and it looks like we’re not going to have school groups again this year, so that’s a major hit,” she said. “So that’s why we’re reaching out and trying to come up with other ideas.”

And while Fort Rickey has received government funding, Stedman said it only goes so far — she’s not alone.

“All the zoos across the nation are struggling. It’s no secret,” she said. “We’ll just keep punching through as best we can and hope we have a good summer season this year.”

For Fort Rickey’s future, Stedman said there’s been discussion about an outreach program to bring the zoo on a smaller scale to the community.

“We’re not looking to bring exotic animals to birthday parties, but maybe when nursing homes, group homes, and smaller classrooms might want a visit from some exotic animals,” Stedman said.

Fort Rickey was also opened up to private groups last year, letting people rent out the zoo for private birthday parties or corporate events — something Stedman said was a big hit.

“We’re just trying to make it easier for people to live with COVID, be safe, and still have great experiences.”

For more information about Fort Rickey Discovery Zoo or how to purchase goat milk soap, visit https://business.facebook.com/FortRickey/

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