The Road Less Traveled Can Turn Into Your Life’s Work

by Greater IBMer Nathan Lincoln, owner of Noah’s Ark Petting Zoo/Frontier Pony Rides

I co-own and run a petting zoo and pony ride business with my wife of 20 years.

Author Nathan Lincoln, his wife Gloria, and some of their friends

When I met my wife, I was working at a job I had just gotten a few months earlier with a traveling carnival. I was unemployed and staying with friends in the little oil field and coal mining town of Gillette, Wyoming. I had just gotten out of the National Guard unit headquartered there.

One morning I arrived at the unemployment office, hoping enough work would come in that day for me to be called. The woman at the front desk asked whether anyone wanted to work in a carnival coming to the town’s Main Street festival. I got the assignment.

Visitors enjoy the petting zoo’s many animals

My job was to run a small homemade car ride with 10 old pedal cars. The owner saw that I made the ride fun for the kids by playing with them while they were on it, even seeing to it that the kids who were unhappy or scared started to enjoy themselves. He offered to let me return with him to Colorado, the center of his operations in Colorado, where there were many more jobs, and I accepted.

Sultan the camel gets his noontime bottle of milk

Once I arrived with the carnival and began working the events through the Denver area, I noticed another person running a pony ride next to him at events. As it happens, shortly before I joined the carnival, the carnival owner had begun buying more of the big mechanical rides and unloading his only high-maintenance attraction: the pony rides.

The woman who had bought the ponies – her name was Gloria – was interesting and friendly. As the carnival would move from one spot to another, she would sometimes need help getting everything set up later in the evening, as she was too busy during the daytime.

Gloria began asking me to help and we struck up a friendship through these evening odd jobs, ended up beginning a relationship. That resulted in our being married a year later.

And that was the beginning of Frontier Pony Rides. My wife and I  expanded the pony ride business by getting event jobs on our own, adding a small petting zoo a few years later. After 10 years (and a few other full time jobs for me that led to my employment at IBM), we bought out another pony/zoo business in Colorado. Today, it’s Noah’s Ark Petting Zoo/Frontier Pony Rides.

Flemish rabbit, father of several others n the petting zoo

As Noah’s Ark Petting Zoo/Frontier Pony Rides we now have a number of exotic or unusual animals, including African Pygmy goats, Nigerian Dwarf goats, and Shetland sheep. We do a range of jobs from small to large. From taking a few of our little mini African Pygmy goats (which are beagle-sized) into retirement homes, where the folks light up like little kids holding and petting them, to taking a dozen of so animals like our little fluffy Shetland sheep, black and white spotted Jacob sheep, pygmy and Nigerian dwarf goats, and Flemish Giant rabbits to day care centers, on up to fairs and festivals.

Baby wallaby Quigley

We also do The Denver Cinco de Mayo Festival, and the Colorado and Central Washington State Fairs, where we add our more exotic animals. These can include our giant 35- to 40-lb. African Spurred tortoises Titan and Clyde, our 3-ft tall adult wallaby Skipper, our llamas, alpacas, mini donkeys, mini horses, miniature pigs, our camel Ali (he’s especially popular at the living nativity scenes around Christmas time), and other animals.

That’s how deciding to do something that you would never expect to do can lead into a complete life’s work. – Nathan Lincoln computer/server administration specialist… & Petting Zoo Owner

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About the author:

Nathan Lincoln

Author Nathan Lincoln

Mr. Lincoln worked for IBM between 2003 and 2012, in Boulder, CO, as a Level 2 Support Technician, with Global Business Services (GBS)  and previously at Career Connections, Inc.

Greater IBMers Love Animals

Greater IBMers are passionate people, with a wide range of interests.  When we posted this question to the members of our LinkedIn Group – “What’s the most interesting thing you do in your non-work life?” – it quickly turned into one of the most popular discussions we’ve seen, generating close to 200 comments.

In this discussion thread, several Greater IBMers shared with the group their love of animals and caring for the earth’s creatures. Among our group members, we have one alpaca farmer, an owner of a petting zoo, several animal rescuers, and a marine life surveyor, to name a few. There’s even one Greater IBMer who had the privilege of meeting Jane Goodall through her work with the Wolf Conservation Center.

Read some of the amazing animal stories that Greater IBMers have shared with us:


–Posted by Julie Yamamoto, Program Manager, The Greater IBM Connection