Laughter and tears at the unveiling of the sheep shelter at the Isabelle family farm in Schoonebeek

A handful of grazing sheep are the first animals welcomed to the Isabelle family farm in Schoonebeek. The entire village has come together to see the start of the petting zoo.

Yesterday was the death anniversary of Isabelle (8), the girl who died in a car accident near the village in 2021. In her memory, parents Toby and Hellen Klingenberg are creating a petting zoo.

Installing the sheep shelter is the beginning of a bigger picture. “There are still a lot of plans, but these must first be submitted to the municipality. Of course we have wishes, but nothing is final,” says Toby Klingenberg. Klingenberg is currently thinking about mini cows, goats and an enclosure for small animals. “The intention is for this to really become a family park, with some experience,” he explains.

The so-called ‘Struunpad’ should ensure this. “This is actually a kind of barefoot path, but you can keep your shoes on,” laughs Klingenberg. Although he can’t promise that you won’t get a chatterbox.

A total of three sheep continue to graze on the still boggy lawn. The cage where the animals can stay is covered with wood and is decorated by children from the area. “Bird houses are also coming and we are going to attach name tags for the sheep to them,” says Klingenberg. The names for the sheep were made up by neighborhood children.

When the entire park will be filled with animals, Klingenberg is still speculating: “We of course had the silent hope that everything would go faster. The municipality expects that the opening will take another year and a half.”

He does not worry about money matters. “We are very happy with voluntary contributions from people who grant us.” Once a final plan has been drawn up, the Klingenberg family will ‘enter the market’. Klingenberg: “Then we hope for subsidies.”

“We want people not to forget that this plan is in progress, the arrival of the farm must remain a focus,” says Klingenberg. Isabelle would start high school in September. “That is the moment when children all go in a different direction. I quietly hope that all children from the village can still experience the opening,” he says with a lump in his throat.