ETHEL, LOUISIANA– Louisiana can be a wild place! Only two hours northwest of New Orleans are the 11 acres of Barn Hill Preserve. Founded in 2013, it’s a place dedicated to the mission of educating the public about everything that swims, flies, crawls, slithers and hops in the animal kingdom.
Some of the animals at the Delaware location have been used by renown wildlife expert family of the Irwins and have been featured on national television on Jimmy Fallen. The experience is well worth the drive as it is one of the few places in the country where you can bottlefeed a water buffalo, get face to face with a sulcata tortoise, snuggle up with a wooly opossum, and walk with emus and camels.
Many of the preserve’s residents are well-known from their likeness on cartoons and animal cracker boxes, but some are downright bizarre like the rare binturong. The binturong is also known as an Asian bearcat and is the largest animal in the world with a prehensile tail. Curiously, if you get a chance to get up close and personal with one, you’ll immediately notice their unique aroma. They have musk glands in their tails that smell like popcorn butter.
There are many different encounters visitors can experience, but one of the favorites is a rendezvous with giant red kangaroos. When fully grown, these marsupials can jump the length of a school bus but one of the more interesting facts is that mother kangaroos have the ability to produce different types of milk at the same time to meet the nutritional needs of their joeys.
Probably the internet’s favorite animal currently is the sloth. Barn Hill has quite a few of them, represented in the two-toed sloths; the largest living species of sloth. To visit the preserve you must make an appointment and you can do so here.