Love animals? Why not skip the zoo and true some really exciting animal encounters with some of your favorite species? We’ve rounded up the best 20 animal encounters you can have around the world.
20. Gentle Giants Giraffe Encounter
The Cincinnati Zoo’s acclaimed Giraffe experience will put you face-to-face with the long-necked beauties. Visitors will stand on a platform and feed the giraffes, where they can see their long eyelashes and purple tongues up close.
19. Tampa’s Big Cat Rescue
Tampa’s Big Cat Rescue provides many different opportunities to enjoy big cats. The night tour lets you walk through the park at night (accompanied by a guide) where you glimpse hundreds of big cat eyes and the roar of lions nipping at your heels!
18. Swim with Otters
Otters are nature’s most amusing, charming and ingenious characters. You can swim with them at Nurtured by Nature’s pool, where you will play and swim alongside otters.
17. Churchill Polar Bear Tours
Manitoba’s Churchill polar bear tour guides have several different polar bear experiences but perhaps none is better than the Great Ice Bear Adventure, which enables people to ride in small buggies next to the polar bears as they go about their business in their natural habitat.
16. Jaguar Safari, Brazil
Hidden in the tropical wetlands of Southern Brazil is one of the largest concentrations of jaguars in the world. To see these amazing cats, people can go on a safari with SouthWild, who can put you on land or send you to see the 350 lb animals by boat.
15. Jose’s Crocodile River Tour
Travelers to eco-conscious Costa Rica can see crocodiles and baby crocs by floating up the river, where they will also be exposed to iguanas, lizards and up to 50 different varieties of exotic birds.
14. Buffalo Luxury Camp
The Serengeti is one of the most breathtaking vistas in the world. You can experience the mighty water buffalo at the Buffalo Luxury Camp, run by Tanzania’s Intimate Places safari, which takes campers on guided nature walks and exposes them to local Maasai traditions.
13. Taj Safari Lodges Explores Bengal Tigers
Bengal Tigers are among the world’s most endangered species. At Bandhavgarh National Park in India, you can experience tigers by traveling in a 4 x 4, or even better, by heading into their territory on elephant-back.
12. Chongwe River Camp’s Hippo Excursion
Africa’s most dangerous mammal is not a lion, tiger or a snake. It’s a hippo, which travelers can see in Zambia, where more than 40,000 of these hungry hippos live. At Chongwe River Camp, you board canoes to visit the hippos in the water.
11. Gorilla Treks
There are only 880 known mountain gorillas. In Southern Uganda, Silverbeck Lodge is located right in the middle of half the world’s mountain gorillas. Experienced guides will lead you up the mountain, where you can track gorillas, other chimpanzees and many other species.
10. Johnstone Strait Killer Whale Kayaking
Although it sounds dangerous, experienced guides will set you up on the superhighway of giant water life – the channel between Vancouver Island and British Columbia, where you will lay eyes on killer whales. Spirit of the West Adventures hooks people up with this fascinating experience.
9. Galapagos Island Iguanas
Who hasn’t dreamed of following Darwin’s path to the Galapagos Islands? To venture to the world of iguanas, you’ll need to travel aboard the 48-passenger boat Eclipse, which is also outfitted to let you snorkel and dive with the worlds most diverse marine life, include the famous iguanas.
8. Golden Retriever Festival, Scotland
Everyone loves golden retriever dogs, so Invernesshire, Scotland, the breed’s ancestral home, decided to hold a festival in their honor. Play with more than 200 dogs at this delightful experience.
7. Yellowstone National Park Wolf Encounters
Wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and has been a great success. Five packs of wolves are in the Lamar Valley, north-central Yellowstone. Yellowstone National Park Association lets you observe the grey wolves in winter, traveling by ski or snowshoe.
6. Experience Rabbit Island
Okunoshima, Japan is known as “Rabbit Island” because the island is home to hundreds of friendly and feral rabbits. The island is formerly a WWII chemical weapons site which is now managed by rabbits, who will approach you for treats and even sit on your lap.
5. Wild Horses
Every little girl dreams of experiencing wild horses, especially if they read or watched Misty of Chincoteague. The book and movie are based on the wild ponies of Virginia’s Chincoteague and Assateague islands and helped transform them from fishing villages to wild pony tourist destinations. The ponies even take an annual swim across the channel!
4. California Peacock Watching
Spend a fanciful day inside the Los Angeles County 127-acre botanical arboretum, where you can drive around and view peacocks on full display. The surrounding neighborhoods are also good places to spot fowl, since they regularly venture outside the park to hang with the locals.
3. Vatican Blessing of the Animals
The Vatican formally blesses animals in a special ceremony. Pope Francis, who assumed the name after St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, will meet with dogs, penguins, cats, horses, chickens and whoever else shows up for a papal blessing. The event typically happens in January.
2. Woodstock Animal Sanctuary
Woodstock New York is famous for a music festival, but now animal friendly people can travel to upstate New York to stay at an animal sanctuary and farm. You will hang out with goats, pigs, chickens, sheep, and other animals who are not food but friends!
1. March with the Penguins
If you loved March of the Penguins, why not join them! Visiting Antarctica between November and March is chilly, but optimal penguin time at Dawson-Lambton Glacier. Your photo opportunities will be astonishing at this remote location.