Information on:

Kentucky Reptile Zoo

200 L And E Railroad

The Kentucky Reptile Zoo is a non-profit organization which was founded in 1990 by director Jim Harrison. Renting out an old restaurant building in the tourist town of Slade, Kentucky, Jim Harrison converted the place into an exhibit area for people to view some of the world's most venomous snakes. A path around the building led to an outdoor area which exhibited American alligators and turtles. Using personal funds to open the zoo, Harrison single-handedly conducted reptile shows, worked the register, and cared for the animals for the first few years. Jim worked hard to establish KRZ, formerly known as Miami Valley Serpentarium, as a credible, honest institution where visitors could learn about and view native and exotic reptiles. The focus of KRZ expanded when a venom extraction lab was built in 1995 in order to extract venom for pharmaceutical research and the production of antivenin.

As time went by, an internship program was established, allowing college students to work with and learn about reptiles. The interns provide greatly appreciated help, especially during the summer months when schedules become busy. Interns gain an invaluable experience working closely with reptiles, specifically snakes, at an institution where the animals' care and conservation is the primary concern.

Another element of student education at KRZ involves an exchange program with the University of Brasilia in Brasilia, Brazil. Several Brazilian students have studied with Jim in past years learning about the venoms, including a more scientific aspect of their composition and effect on humans. The partnership between the Kentucky Reptile Zoo and the University began in 1997 with a behavioral research trip to Brazil. The crew from KRZ studied Crotalus durrisus terrificus. Jim Harrison gave lectures at the University and ideas concerning behavior were exchanged.


Jared Yates

Thursday, April 26, 2018
We were in town for hiking and camping at the Natural Bridge park. We took our 4 and 6 year old girls, not really sure what to expect. The facility exceeded our expectations for sure. It has a strong science and conservation vibe, and all of the staff were very polite, well-spoken, and smart. The facility has over 1000 snakes, but most of them are not on display. The ones that are on display are in artful enclosures grouped into buildings according to their natural habitat. In the North America exhibit we were able to see the rare creatures like rattlesnakes, copperheads, and a cottonmouth. With years of outdoor adventures in the southeastern US, I've never seen most of these in the wild. Our guide for most of the tour was a young lady named Carson, and she was fantastic. Thinking from the role model perspective, I love it any time our young girls are able to see a confident and knowledgeable leader who also happens to be female. We spent about 2 hours, which included seeing the venom extraction demonstrations. The cost of admission was more than I expected, but afterwards we felt like we had received value that exceeded the cost.

R Webb

Friday, July 6, 2018
Love the reptile zoo. They get a little over chatty at the exhibits which slows the viewing down and the last time I was there they had several of the animals missing for different reasons. But overall not bad. Been several times and always a good experience.

Brooke Diuguid

Tuesday, June 26, 2018
So it’s a little sketch driving up but seriously this place is rad! It’s not super expensive and the staff is friendly and knowledgeable. A lot of interesting reptiles! Definitely go check it out!!

Scarlett Walker

Monday, July 9, 2018
Great Tour! Tots of poisonous snakes, even held a baby alligator! Super informative guide Bethany was awesome! Great place to learn about reptiles! If you like snakes, this is the place for you!!

Mckyle Meads

Sunday, June 3, 2018
Staff was very friendly, and very knowledgeable. The wrangler was very cautious and aware of each and every species handled. Plus the wrangler's back story leading up to his profession was very exciting. Easy 5 stars 😀

Kentucky Reptile Zoo is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media