It’s always a good day when I get to visit the Salato Wildlife Center for work. It’s basically impossible to walk away without a good image, and that’s if you’re just focusing on the wildlife there. Throw in a bunch of happy 4th-graders on a field trip and you’re guaranteed a fun afternoon.
“Whoa,” said Madison Long, as she passed by a table covered in different animal hides. “They’re so soft!”
She didn’t say much else as she and her friend bolted off to look at another exhibit.
Other children quickly zeroed in on Patrick Ueltschi, a conservation educator at Salato, who held a live corn snake out for them to touch and pet. Some of the children were nervous, asking if the snake was venomous or would bite them.
He gave a “no” on both accounts.
Finally, a brave hand stuck out, fingers touching the snake’s back.
“It’s really neat to see the kid’s reaction,” said Ueltschi. “You can see them working things through in their heads, going ‘I don’t know, do I want to touch it or not?’ But there’s always that first kid who does it and then the rest usually join in.”
Outside of the welcome center, visitors to Salato can view wild animals like bobcats, a black bear, deer, turkey and elks. They also can visit different Kentucky habitats, like a stream exhibit and a large pond.
“The water’s cold,” said Leah Oakley, as she reached out to touch a waterfall at the Living Stream exhibit.
“There’s a lot to do here, so I think the kids enjoy it,” said Ueltschi as he walked around with another snake. “We’ve got this alligator snapping turtle that people love. There’s just a lot of variety.”
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