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5 Reasons to Visit the Kentucky Reptile Zoo

Tucked in between the mountains, in beautiful Slade, Kentucky, is the Kentucky Reptile Zoo. Not into reptiles? I didn’t know enough about reptiles to have an opinion. But I do now! I can give you at least 5 reasons to visit the  Kentucky Reptile Zoo.


Kentucky Reptile Zoo

The number one priority is to provide venom for antivenom and for medical and pharmaceutical research – to save lives!
A very close second is conservation of reptile species and public education through on-site tours and off-site programs.
Here are 5 reasons to visit the Kentucky Reptile Zoo

Kentucky Reptile Zoo has the largest collection of venomous snakes in the United States. Venom extractions are done almost every day, they allow you to watch while the extractions are being done. It was a thrill to be so close to a venomous King Cobra snake. There was no glass between us and the snake. I had no idea what to expect, and I was pleasantly surprised we were so close, but far enough away to be safe. I have to admit it was very exciting.
Jim Harrison and Kristen Wiley, the Director and Curator of the Kentucky Reptile Zoo have over 50 years of combined experience with venomous reptiles. Jim and Kristen have experience training Law Enforcement Officers, assisting with raids, confiscations, and holding of evidence animals.
It was a privilege to watch Jim handle the snakes and as he extracts the venom. Jim has been bitten many times in his over 40 years of working with reptiles. Jim gets a very small amount of venom from each snake. We watched as he “milked” at least a dozen or more.

Kristin works with Jim as he does the extractions. They’ve worked together for quite a while, it’s very obvious by watching them work so comfortably with the snakes together. They were teaching our tour guide on how to tell the sex of the snake. Interesting.

2. Non-profit 501(c)3 That means they aren’t doing any of this to get rich. They rely on venom sales, admissions to the zoo, and donations from people like us! Admission is only $10. per person. That is a bargain!

3. Conservation of reptiles is huge to the zoo. Some of the snakes are on the endangered list. They also work with reptiles that need rehabilitation and/or medical care.

4. Small Guided Tours: Filled with as much or as little information as you want. Each outbuilding is securely locked. Your guide unlocks the door, everyone goes inside and the door is closed. It can get a little warm inside because they are climate controlled for the reptiles. Our guide was great, she is an intern and knew so much about all reptiles. She fully answered our questions, I only wish I had recorded it so I could remember all the stuff I learned.


The guides unlock and lock each one before and after we tour the building. Each building is climate controlled to benefit the reptiles.

I found it fascinating that most of the snakes aren’t on display. I’m only the most well-adjusted snakes are used for us to view. You can see behind the glass enclosures that there are stacks of plastic tubs with lids. They all had snakes in them. They are happy being tucked away from us. I can understand that I would be too!

5. Tucked into the gorgeous Natural Bridge and the Red River Gorge area in Kentucky. The drive to the zoo is beautiful. If you’re into hiking or just like to take a walk. There are hiking paths everywhere. You can camp, fish, and even rock climb! We stayed at a cabin the Natural Bridge State Park Resort. I’ll tell you about that later. There’s something for everyone in the family.


(Above) Under the Kentucky Natural Bridge

(Above) View from the top of the Kentucky Natural Bridge

Kentucky Reptile Zoo

Open for Tours
Memorial Day-Labor Day
EVERY DAY,
from 11am – 6pm.
Live Reptile Shows at 1, 3 and 5 pm!
For more information about the tours,
fall, winter, and spring hours,
and venom extraction
for public viewing,
visit  “Tour KRZ” page.

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Have you ever been to the Kentucky Reptile Zoo? If so what was your experience like?

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