Wild times at Salato Wildlife Center

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Bobby Ellis
bobby.ellis@education.ky.gov

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.” 

If you’re interested in taking a class trip to Salato, you can visit its field trip planning page

Madison Loring, a 4th-grader at Western Elementary (Scott County), reacts as she walks by a display of furs during a field trip to Salato Wildlife Center in Frankfort.
Photo by Bobby Ellis, April 14, 2017
Fourth-grade Western Elementary students walk to the deer enclosure during a field trip to Salato Wildlife Center. The center houses deer, bison, elk, bobcats and other animals native to Kentucky.
Photo by Bobby Ellis, April 14, 2017
A male bobcat watches as visitors walk by his enclosure at the Salato Wildlife Center. Salato houses two bobcats, a male and female.
Photo by Bobby Ellis, April 14, 2017
Eliza Ketternring, a 4th-grader from Western Elementary, reaches out to touch a waterfall while visiting the Living Stream exhibit at Salato Wildlife Center.
Photo by Bobby Ellis, April 14, 2017
Jillian Stomberg watches deer from a raised platform at Salato Wildlife Center.
Photo by Bobby Ellis, April 14, 2017
A black bear takes a nap in his enclosure at the Salato Wildlife Center.
Photo by Bobby Ellis, April 14, 2017
A young bald eagle watches as visitors pass by its enclosure at Salato Wildlife Center. Bald eagles don’t develop their distinctive white head and tail feathers until they reach maturity.
Photo by Bobby Ellis, April 14, 2017
Aubrery Day, left, and Addison Moore look at a snake being held by a wildlife educator during a field trip to Salato Wildlife Center in Frankfort.
Photo by Bobby Ellis, April 14, 2017
Katie Moore, left, Aubrey Day and Addison Moore pet a snake during a field trip to the Salato Wildlife Center. Along with petting snakes, students can interact with animals pelts, view a honeybee hive and observe larger animals, such as a black bear, bobcats and elk.
Photo by Bobby Ellis, April 14, 2017
Western Elementary (Scott County) 4th-grade students gather for a photo in a canoe at Salato Wildlife Center.
Photo by Bobby Ellis, April 14, 2017

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