Kentucky Kingdom officials say entire park is open to nursing mothers

Published: Jul. 12, 2014 at 2:09 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 26, 2014 at 2:09 AM EDT
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Shannon Stone (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Shannon Stone (Source: WAVE 3 News)
John Mulcahy (Source: WAVE 3 News)
John Mulcahy (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Kyle Shepherd (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Kyle Shepherd (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Mothers and their babies are free to play together, and nurse whenever the need arises, at the shop in the Highlands called Mama's Hip.

"I wasn't really surprised that it happened, I was really disappointed," Shannon Stone said Friday.

She was referring to a post that first appeared on Facebook made by a nursing Mom, claiming one or more young employees at Kentucky Kingdom had told her she'd made breast-feeding a bit too obvious, then suggested a park restroom might be more appropriate and discreet.

"Unequivocally, Kentucky Kingdom supports breast feeding, OK," the park's Communications Director John Mulcahy said Friday. "They did what they thought was right at the time. But you know, we've corrected that."

Kentucky Kingdom's President & CEO Ed Hart has issued what management terms a "written clarification" stating every part of the park is open to nursing mothers "and will leave it up to Mom to determine and know, when and where she decides to breastfeed, whether publicly or privately."

"This incident was a case of some miscommunication or misinterpretation of discretion," Mulcahy said.

"Discretion" is the word that bothers Stone most.

"I don't understand why discretion is needed when you're feeding your baby," she said. "You're meeting your baby's basic need."

The Louisville Zoo offers a number of options for nursing mothers seeking privacy. Beyond banks of family restrooms, the venue has several lactation stations; private, air-conditioned nooks that offer cots, running water and space for accompanying family members.

"We never ask a guest to not breast-feed anywhere on campus," Louisville Zoo Communications Director Kyle Shepherd said. "We just offer them that option if that's what they prefer to do."

Kentucky Kingdom has established similar accommodations within its First Aid stations on the ride Midway and in Hurricane Bay.

But Stone believes that Mothers shouldn't feel compelled to use them.

"Sometimes you need a quiet space to take your four kids, you can have your eyes on them and nurse your baby," she said. "And sometimes that's not what you need. You need to feed your baby right now—you can't go across the park."

Mulcahy insists all of Kentucky Kingdom's staff has gotten the message.

"We're perfectly comfortable with that," he said. "When it comes to discretion, it's the moms who have it, not us."

Saturday morning, Mulcahy confirmed Hart spoke directly to the mother who reported the incident. According to the park officials, Hart called the mom Friday and apologized, offering to refund her money.

Mulcahy said the mother previously sought a refund, but in the end refused it because her daughter enjoys the park.

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