The Appalachian Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has announced plans to add an open-air zoo and a petting zoo to the Appalachian Wildlife Center. The zoos will feature at least 15 native Appalachian mammals and four to six raptors.
The zoos will be open year-round and admission will be included in the Wildlife Center’s general admission fee. The 12,000 acre Wildlife Center is home to an abundance of free roaming wildlife including elk, deer, black bear, bobcat, coyote, wild turkey, hundreds of species of birds and numerous small mammals. According to management, the zoos have been added to provide visitors with another opportunity to see and learn about indigenous wildlife species up close in a setting that will be stroller and wheelchair accessible.
“We are constantly working to enhance the visitor experience at the Center. Our original plan included a raptor refuge. We realized that we could expand that concept into a zoo that included raptors and would appeal to more visitors,” AWF President David Ledford said. “One of our challenges is that visitors of all ages, from across the nation will arrive with a very diverse set of interests. After firming up plans for the open zoo, we added a petting zoo because of the very strong popularity among children.”
In addition to all of the wildlife, the Appalachian Wildlife Center will include two museums, a theater, birders hall, classrooms, restaurant, gift shop, artisans hall, the Trailblazers monuments park, an improved nature trail, foot trails and numerous other features.
“We are working toward a zoo design that will integrate well with the vast open vistas and expanses at the Center. We want to avoid the feel of an urban zoo,” AWF Chairman Frank Allen added. “The conceptual model for our plan is the zoo at the Salato Wildlife Center operated by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources in Frankfort, KY.”
The Appalachian Wildlife Center will be built and operated by the Appalachian Wildlife Foundation, a Corbin, Kentucky based nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization.