ETHEL, La. (BR Proud) — As people look for more outdoor activities to attend post-pandemic, one place in southeast Louisiana is growing in popularity. Barn Hill Preserve is a nearly 20-acre animal sanctuary dedicated to the preservation, education, and interactive experiences with some of the world’s most exotic animals.
“My favorite part about working here is making a difference in the animal’s lives,” said Hunter Osborn, Operations Director. “It’s also nice that we get to educate people on conservation and make them really care.”
The preserve is perhaps best known for its Encounter Tours. “An encounter tour consists of an hour walking tour of the preserve guided by one of our tour guides, and then we also do an hour of animal encounters,” said Osborn. Throughout the tour, guides include facts related to deteriorating populations and why exotic animals are not meant to be household pets.
Barn Hill is currently home to about 150 animals and 40 different species, according to Osborn. While not all animals are available to interact with directly, like the hyena, there are still plenty of animal ambassadors to pet and see up close.
Make sure to check their event calendar for “Sip with the Sloths.” The special activity is offered every other weekend, weather permitting. “It’s an after-hours event for adults only,” said Osborn. “You get to come, walk around, drink some wine, meet sloths. We also have all of our ambassador animals out.”
Barn Hill is also one of the only places in the southeast U.S. offering a Swim with Otters Encounter. “We have three otters that are swimming right now and they’re a lot of fun. Their names are Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Whiskers,” said Osborn.
Visitors also have the opportunity to book an experience at Barn Hill’s sister site, Magnolia Ridge Adventure Park.