The Best Vacation Spots for Animal Lovers
Are you crazy for the animal kingdom, a fur-ball fanatic, or an undersea adventurer? If you love animals, but hate that the only ones you generally see on vacation are limited to guys dressed like Mickey and Pluto at Disneyland, then you're about to get some good news. This list features all of the best vacation spots for animal lovers from all over the world! Whether you want to cuddle with cows in California or volunteer with elephants in Africa, we’ve got you covered with the coolest animal islands, fur-ball-loving festivals, and four-legged fun the planet’s got to offer.
Toss out those theme park pamphlets and scroll down to learn how you can spend your next vacation meeting little known creatures or even volunteering with some of the most gorgeous endangered species on the planet. Whether you’d love to swim with sharks or work hands on with giant pandas in China, there are plenty of fellow animal lovers in the world that would love to help you do it and we’re here to help you get you in touch with them. Here you’ll find not only fun and festive annual events that honor the furry, but some incredible non-profit organizations around the world who always welcome volunteers to give love to the animals they work so hard to save.So why not consider making your next vacation one you’ll remember for a lifetime? Whether these animal islands, critter getaways, and vacation spots for animal lovers lead you to a place where you can make friends with monkeys or make a difference in the life of a cheetah, one thing’s for sure: they’ll all leave you with memories you’ll cherish for a lifetime.
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Chill with a Cheetah at South Africa's Cheetah OutreachPhoto: Mycatkins / flickr / CC-BY-ND 2.0If you like kitties of the larger variety, check out the volunteer program at Cheetah Outreach in South Africa. The organization works to increase awareness and promote the survival of the gorgeous endangered cats in their huge outreach center, where they even occasionally breed more of the beautiful animals. Not only is it a great place to visit, the center also welcomes volunteers from all over the world, who are invited to work with and enrich the lives of the big kitties who live at the facility.
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Meet This Adorable Creature Is at the Phillipine Tarsier and Wildlife SantuaryPhoto: Steven Olmstead / flickr / CC-BY-ND 2.0
This adorable, Gremlin looking little dude is called a tarsier and if you're ever in the Philippines, you can meet him up close and personal at the Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary in Corella.Native only to the Philippines, the tiny primates are incredibly shy, so staff are constantly on hand at the Sanctuary to guide guests along tours, which they make sure to keep respectfully quiet and incredibly gentle. Along the route you'll see the adorable little dudes enjoying their large, free-roaming environment, set up to make them feel right at home.
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Bond with Elephant's at Thailand's Elephant Nature ParkPhoto: shazinova / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0If you've always dreamed of making a big difference, you can make one for some of the biggest boys around at Thailand's Elephant Nature Park. The park provides a sanctuary for elephants, many of which have been injured, orphaned, blinded, or abused as working animals. They even offer hands-on volunteer opportunities, where you can sign up to help bring joy to some of the biggest buddies you'll ever have.
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Relax at a Golden Retriever Festival in Inverness-Shire, ScotlandPhoto: Sarah VR / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0Want to hang out in an environment that makes every scene in 101 Dalmatians look like chump change? Then check out this yearly golden retriever festival, hosted by The Golden Retriever Club of Scotland! The event includes dinner, dancing, dog shows, and more little golden guys and gals that you can shake a stick at.
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Pamper Pandas at the Bifengxia Panda Base in ChinaThink it'd be awesome to hang out with Giant Pandas all day? It would be, and you totally can, through the Panda Volunteer Program at Bifengxia Panda Base in China (they have other locations as well, if the Bifengxia location is under construction). For a small fee, you can sign up to volunteer and help staff take care of a group of the country's biggest cuddle bugs. You'll join trained panda experts as you help feed, clean up after, and shower the big guys with love.
- Photo: Arctic Wolf Pictures / flickr / CC-BY-ND 2.0
If you can't get enough of polar bears then you won't be disappointed if you bring it on up to Manitoba, Canada this fall! Each year, during the fall migration, the area ends up hosting the largest unofficial polar bear convention in the world.Wanna get up close and personal without becoming a tasty snack? Just book your stay aboard the Tundra Lodge, a huge rolling hotel which constantly repositions to give you the best possible view of your new polar pals.