Limestone County family builds backyard zoo for children

By Jack Madison - email

LIMESTONE COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - Darrell Blakenship was a volunteer firefighter with the Oak Grove Department for 16 years.

Now, he's a zookeeper, and the zoo he keeps is right behind his house.

"Most normal people would think you're crazy."

Why, what's so crazy about a wallaby hopping around your backyard, a fox getting a little snack, a stoically standing llama and a white nose coatimundi doing, well, what white nose coatimundis do.

Darrell has a way with the animals, and says the animals have a way with the kids.

"We wanted to do something for the kids. We enjoy having kids around, and there's nothing to do around here like this. Kids have a ball out here."

Darrell also says new additions to his zoo are on the way, including two baby camels next spring.

"This is just where we want to begin at. We want to put something in Limestone County that will draw tourism to the area, and give the kids something to go to every weekend. Come out and support us, and the more it gets supported, the bigger it's going to get."

Darrel's zoo is on Children Lane in Athens.

It's open for birthday parties and school trips.

The cost is $3 per person, and pony rides are a dollar each.

It's open every day except Wednesday, from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.