Barn Hill Preserve
Barn Hill Preserve was founded by Gabe Ligon and Josh Mueller who both shared a passion for animals and education. Working together, they were able to create a haven for animals with conservation initiatives in mind and interactive educational programs for visitors. Barn Hill Preserve is set apart from other zoological parks since their facilities consist of open fields and grassland to mimic their animal ambassadors’ natural environment to ensure a high quality of life. Even with these efforts, Barn Hill Preserve staff will often travel around the world to help with emergency conservation efforts beyond their facilities. Visitors can learn a lot from their interactive educational programs and they also can be contacted directly about field trips or school presentations as well!
At Barn Hill Preserve, you can go and schedule your very own tour and encounters! Patrons have the option of purchasing a basic ticket that is a 45 minute animal presentation or you can purchase a ticket for the Encounter Tour. The Encounter Tour is approximately one and a half hours long and includes both the animal presentation plus up-close encounters with their animal ambassadors. Another option includes Otter Swims! Otter Swims include a 30 minute animal show that is led by staff, followed by an Encounter Tour and then finished up with an opportunity to swim with Asian small-clawed otters in a climate-controlled, chlorine-free pool. Over the summer, I had gone on the Encounter Tour and had a great time! Some of the animal ambassadors we got to meet included a blue-tongued skink, an otter, and a hedgehog. At the end of our tour, we were able to go inside of the red kangaroo enclosure and take pictures with them. After the Encounter Tour, some visitors had opted to add-on additional animal encounters with either their sloth animal ambassador or their aardvark animal ambassador. Myself, my son, and a friend opted to go meet Doogal, their aardvark animal ambassador. One of their staff members took us into Doogal’s enclosure and he was taking a little nap but was roused at the scent of breakfast which consisted of essentially a bug soup. The three of us each were able to hold a cup with some of Doogal’s preferred breakfast and had the honor of feeding him some of it. My son absolutely loved meeting Doogal and it was such a cool experience for him.
You can also meet some of Barn Hill Preserve’s animal ambassadors at some special events. Some of these events are seasonal so be sure to periodically check their website to see when you can participate in their next event! Some upcoming events include Munchin’ with Monkeys where you can have a playful picnic with spider monkeys and Sippin’ with Sloths where you can enjoy some wine at a local vineyard while hanging out with a sloth! Event venues for Sippin’ with Sloths include Bordeleau Vineyards in Eden, MD, Salted Vine Vineyard and Winery in Frankford, DE and Windmill Creek Vineyard and Winery in Berlin, MD. Events to check back in for with future dates include Brews and Roos, Kangaroos and Comedy, Kangaroo Yoga, and Paint-N-Sip. My husband and I tried out the Kangaroo Yoga in September and we both enjoyed it. We took the opportunity to rent one of their yoga mats and enjoyed doing a 45-minute beginner yoga class right in the kangaroo enclosure. Some of the kangaroos would come up and check to see if you were doing your poses properly and would either hang out or move on to the next person. Some even expressed interest in the yoga mat rentals. After the yoga session came to a close, we and the other patrons were able to meet some of the kangaroos and take pictures. I found it to be very relaxing and would do it again.
To find out more about Barn Hill Preserve, please be sure to check out their website and Facebook which were used as the sources for this article. Until next time, we on the Julie Gritton Team hope you are enjoying this beautiful fall season and we look forward to hearing from you soon!