It’s time to meet some of the animals of the outback. During the summer, zookeepers at Kentucky Down Under travel to neighboring counties and states visited with the public. For most, this may be their only time to see animals of the wild up close. Varied types of animals were in attendance on June 21, during a summer-reading tour, which began in Edmonson County and ended in Butler County.
Animals on display were Bonnie a seven and a half-year-old Woma Python, Keegan a year old Hedgehog, a yet to be named year old Caiman, Prudy a 17-year-old laughing Kookaburra, and a yet to be named Japanese wood turtle. Jacey Doyle is a zookeeper at Kentucky Down Under. The business is an Australian-themed animal park located in Horse Cave. The park has been open to the public since 1990.
“I love working with the animals,” Doyle said. “I am going to school to be a vet. This is the ideal place for me to be working at. It makes me happy to see them all so happy. Seeing them all playing around is just great. Everyone at Kentucky Down Under is very outgoing and helpful. I have learned a lot.”
She offered the following advice to people interested in her field of expertise, “if there is any animal you are scared of, don’t be. You will find that connection with that animal eventually. Take time to get to know the animals and do your own research about them.”
One of Doyle’s favorites is Bonnie, which is around five feet in length. The snake is commonly found in Western Australia. The python is also known as Ramsay’s python and sand python. The snake is sadly becoming extinct.
A recent addition to the group is the hedgehog. The park employees have only had the animal for three months. Doyle said the trick to getting them comfortable about others is a process in itself. The staff kept the hedgehogs where people come and get tickets. The visitors would go around the cage and weren’t too close to the animals. This gradually got them used to different smells. Then the staff moved to put on gloves and holding them so people could meet them. By this time they are ready for animal shows every once in awhile. Doyle said the key is to get them out and get exercise because it keeps them motivated.
The team of staff and animals stay very busy during the summer by traveling to various shows for people of all ages. One of their most popular is the summer reading programs at local libraries. The Q and A sessions are quite successful. Many soak up the useful educational knowledge and cannot wait to visit the park in Horse Cave.
In Edmonson County, an estimated 200 people attended the program. This was their largest attendance yet for a family-friendly activity. In Butler County, an estimated 175 people took part in the interactive experience. Both locations were very grateful to be able to offer something like this at no cost to residents.
For more information on upcoming campaigns for Edmonson County Public Library, visit https://ecplibrary.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/ECPLibrary42210/. For more information about upcoming happenings for Butler County Public Library, visit https://bcplky.org/ or https://www.facebook.com/Butler-County-Public-Library-260531555225/.