HORSE CAVE, Ky. — As the world watches massive fires sweep through Australia, a local business is doing its part to help save animals in the continent’s unique ecosystem.
Kentucky Down Under, an unassuming zoo placed across the street from a highway truck stop, is a marvel in the middle of Kentucky. Its sprawling wooded grounds contain 37 species, many native to Australia. When I arrived on a weekday afternoon, I was greeted by a friendly dog and front desk attendant. The latter told me the zoo was the product of an Australian ex-patriot whose husband, frustrated by her repeated requests for a pet, told her to “Get whatever pet” she wanted. Years later, the zoo’s general manager is pledging half of January’s ticket sales to Australia Zoo, which is working to save nearly unimaginable numbers of animals under siege by wildfires.
“The ecosystem in Australia is one in the world,” said Mick McGill, the aforementioned GM and a native of the Melbourne area. “There’s plant life and animal life that you’re never gonna see anywhere else… And, so, watching the photos and videos from home has just been devastating, really heartbreaking to see.”
McGill said he wasn’t sure how much money he expects to give, but hopes his unique group of animals, along with this effort, can attract even a fraction of the thousands of daily visitors the park sees during the busy summer months.
“They’re my babies,” McGill continued, as an albino kangaroo hopped by. “These animals here, I mean, they’re my pride and joy. I’ve hand raised a lot of these animals and they remind me of home.”
It’s personal for McGill; he proudly mentioned that inspectors had told him his zoo was the best in the state. He hopes Kentucky’s love for animals can help bring relief thousands of miles away.
If you can’t make it down to Kentucky Down Under, you can still help. You can call the ticket office at 270-786-2634 and make a donation over the phone.