We just got home from a trip to Kentucky. DH and I had been to Mammoth Cave years ago – before kids- and it was time to let them experience it. When we visited Mammoth all of those thousands of years ago, we also found an unexpected place called Kentucky Down Under, and we were sold enough on it to make sure our kids got to see that too.
If you and/or your kids are into animals and experiences with animals, this is the place for you to go. They offer a ‘walkabout’ in the paddock with kangaroos, emus, and tortoises. Our guide was Billy, and he let each of us have a couple of matchsticks of sweet potato to feed the kangaroos. He told us tons about the animals, has been working with some since their birth, and let us know the two who would be okay with pets on the head. Apparently most kangaroos don’t like to have people touch their heads or ears. One of those two sweet ‘roos started handing out kisses. You’d scritch her cheek and before you knew it she’d be licking you.
When we had been there before, our guide did not take us near the emus, but Billy did and we were able to touch them as well. We even got to see a joey get into his mama’s pouch.
The animal shows were wonderful as well. The handlers made their way among the audience to let everyone touch who wished to, except when the animal did not want to be touched. Our kids touched an alligator (tail), Australian pythons (which apparently eat venomous snakes), and a very large rabbit (can’t remember what kind). They showed a great horned owl (which came to the park after it was hit by a car), but did not allow touches. Maybe because the kids had all touched the snakes and the owl had been eying the snakes closely. Maybe because there were two groups of pre-school kids who were all rather wired.
There’s a lorikeet enclosure, and the first cup of nectar is free (included in admission). We went there early and the lorikeets were anxious to eat, so we were covered in birds. I think DH had five on him at one point. Our youngest was taken a bit by surprise and headed back into the entry hut with the worker, but still enjoyed watching.
We didn’t go into the petting area as it was hot (over 90) and we’d seen the main attractions, but they also had goats, and I believe sheep and a donkey to touch. Another area had demonstrations of sheep herding with the collies. Dogs freely roam the park, and we heard the dingoes (caged, no touching) howl. There was a wagon giving rides which we skipped due to heat, but the kids were allowed to pet the horses while they awaited their next load of passengers.
The park has a small cave which is included in your admission ticket. Every person carries a flashlight and you may wear a miner’s helmet if you choose to. The water in the cave has a pair of mating crayfish, which we got to see. Our guide took pictures of the female for research documentation as one of the guests spotted her getting ready to cross our path. Very cool.
Mammoth Cave is worth the trip too. I’m just worn out on caves as we’ve been to several over the years, and it’s kind of become just ‘hiking underground’ to me now. The kids enjoyed it, even though our son hated that he was too young to carry a lantern on the Violet City Lantern Tour while his oldest sister could (have to be at least sixteen).
The other thrill of the trip was for my husband and our middle. They were joined by our son on Kentucky’s longest twin zip line at Jesse James riding stable (I think the whole thing was called Kentucky’s Adventure Park, but I only remember the riding stable for certain). Our son was not happy at the end of the zip, but the other two loved it. It’s 300 feet high, and about a half mile long. It starts with two small zips to warm you up, but that part isn’t advertised. Our oldest just wanted to take the chair lift, which she was allowed to do with a ticket for the alpine slide ($5/person). I sat in the shade enjoying a heavenly breeze.