Travel

Wildlife Parks and Tours

If you’d like to save money this year but still visit some of our world’s ecosystems and their animals, you can visit wonderful animal parks and wildlife tours while staying within North America.

lionessI remember several years ago looking at the animals roaming the savannah at the San Diego Wild Animal Park  and thinking I was in Africa.  Even a wildlife researcher who was on the tour said it was realistic.   This 1,800 acre wildlife preserve is home to over 3,500 animals from 260 species, and is also a botanical garden.  If you’d like to learn and view the animals at night, the Park offers a Roar and Snore Sleepover.

Living DesertI was only about seven years old when my family visited The Living Desert in Palm Desert, California, but it made such an impression on me that I still remember seeing some of the animals.   Dedicated to life in the deserts of Africa and North America, The Living Desert is committed to wildlife conservation and increasing the number of slender-horned gazelles, sand cats, addaxes, and Arabian oryx, as well as other species, in our world.  Desert species often have comparatively small populations due to the severe environment, and thus are more vulnerable to human activity than forest species.

Caribou DenaliWildlife tours through national parks usually include enough sightings to keep passengers happy.  While Denali National Park in Alaska has a wonderful assortment of moose, bears, caribous, foxes, dall sheep, and other animals, national parks such as Yellowstone are also home to a variety of animals.  Both are best on trips of at least several days.

egretThe Florida Everglades and the Louisiana swamps both offer tours.  Manatees have recently been in the news, pictured huddling in warm springs to try to fend off the cold.  If you’re going, look for tour operators who support The International Ecotourism Society’s policy of responsible travel that respects the local environment.  That includes keeping a safe distance from manatees.

humpbackAs well, if you go whale watching off the coast of California, Washington or British Columbia (Canada), look for responsible operators who respect the whales and avoid disrupting them.  California Grey Whale watching season tends to be in December and April, and I’ve seen Humpback Whales off the California coast in September.  Farther North, the Orca Whale watching season in British Columbia tends to be in the summer, perhaps because that’s when the weather is most favorable.  Doing more research will uncover more whale watching opportunities for you.

If you’re looking for a whole world experience, then Disney’s Animal Kingdom may be the place to visit.  You can see over 1,700 animals from 250 species on 500 acres.  That’s one of the four Florida Disney parks, and the other three are fun for non-animal reasons.

There are other notable wildlife parks and tours, but I can’t include them all!  If you have a favorite that didn’t make it onto this list, feel free to add a comment about it.

By the way, someone recently asked if I benefit from any organizations I mention on this blog.  No, I don’t receive any compensation or products from any organization.  This is a volunteer effort, with the only benefit to me being the satisfaction of helping you and our world.  I hope you’re enjoying it!

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Alison Wheatley

Alison Wheatley

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