I have many relatives in Indiana, which happens to be the state where Garfield the Cat's cartoon production empire is located. I have family in Plainfield, Indiana, just minutes from the site of the proposed Garfield Theme Park that did not happen (we followed that for years, and I saw where it was supposed to be built).
U.S. Acres ("Orson's Farm" in other countries) was a comic strip launched by Garfield's creator, Jim Davis, in 1986. The main character was Orson the Pig, who lived in a barnyard full of wacky characters like Wade the Duck, Roy the Rooster, Booker and Sheldon (baby chicks), and sheep siblings Bo and Lanolin.
There are some lesser known characters shown here, too. The dog is named Cody and the cat is named Blue. They appeared in earlier strips, which I remember reading in the Indiana newspapers during family visits. The identity of the horse and calf shown on this sheet of stickers (dated 1985) remained a mystery to me for a few years, until I visited The New Indianapolis Zoo in July, 1988.
The New Indianapolis Zoo was years in the making (I remember seeing a model of it when I was a little kid). This Zoo was really unique because it featured dolphins (though the Whale and Dolphin Pavilion did not open until Fall 1988, so I did not get to see it).
The Zoo was split up into different sections called "biomes." The Encounters biome was home to domestic animals, and included an interactive exhibit called the "U.S. Acres County Club." Yes, I double-checked that--it says "County" Club, not "Country."
The U.S. Acres County Club is not labeled on the map, but it is right next to the Encounters Arena. I was really impressed with this well-themed Zoo. I have only been that one time, and I know it has changed quite a bit.
The Encounters Arena was home to a Birds of Prey show. A lucky child from the audience was chosen to feed the owl a mouse.
I'm only kidding---that did not happen!
The U.S. Acres County Club is seen in the background here.
Here's a better view from the Encounters Arena:
I don't have any pictures of the inside of the U.S. Acres area, but it was decorated with images of the characters, including the calf (here I learned his name was "Chuck"--clever) and a fiberglass ride-on/photo opportunity figure of what turned out to be "Jodie" (or was that Jody?) the horse. This area also featured various real animals, including farm animals, ferrets, and a cat.
Visitors could also meet Orson the Pig near the Encounters Arena.
In the Fall of 1988, the U.S. Acres characters had their animated television debut as part of the long-running "Garfield and Friends" series on CBS Saturday Mornings. Blue, Cody, and the horse and calf characters were never seen on the series. I guess they were written out with no explanation, like Richie Cunningham's older brother on "Happy Days" and little Judy Winslow on "Family Matters."
2004 Random House "Step Into Reading" Book
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