A Beaufort resident hopes her new business will provide a relaxed and inexpensive environment for people and animals, alike.
Cindy Gahan has opened Cindy's Pet Paradise, a combination pet store, petting zoo and education center, at 522 Parris Island Gateway. She sells all-day passes for $1 each, a price set to allow large families and people on budgets to visit, Gahan said.
Visitors can spend an entire day learning about and caring for animals. She has used her savings to support the shop and zoo and relies on volunteers to help care for the animals and maintain the facilities.
"I'm trying to give to Beaufort, and I'm trying to get Beaufort to give to itself," she said.
Her zoo includes fish, hedgehogs, chinchillas, donkeys, chickens, parrots, reptiles, goats and rabbits. Children can collect eggs from the free-range chickens and catch fish with nets and release them.
Gahan said the animals are very tame, and interaction with them can be therapeutic, especially for children and older adults. She said her past jobs working with troubled youth in a day care facility and as a home health care aide made her committed to finding ways to help people.
The animals are not drugged, Gahan said to explain why her animals are tame. "We do hugs. I hold my animals daily and so do other people."
The store is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday.
For information or to volunteer, call 843-473-5322.
In other news about town:
Heckler's closed Monday, and owners were not available for comment. Attempts to reach a representative from 303 Associates, which owns the building, were not successful.