If you’re a nature lover, one of the easiest ways to see exotic creatures up close is by popping into the local zoo, no matter where you are in the world. However, especially outside of the UK, zoos aren’t always the most moral choice, with animals often undernourished, under-exercised and lonely. It’s fascinating to see all sorts of creatures in the flesh, but while they might look lively and playful behind bars, seeing them in their natural habitat is so much more rewarding.
These days, it can be tough to know where to go that’s ethically in the green, because there’s a lot of fake claims out there. That’s why we’ve pulled together 4 animal sanctuaries that are well worth a visit, not only to see gorgeous wildlife in its natural environment, but because these places are really doing their bit for conservation, recuperation and repopulation.
#1: The Kangaroo Sanctuary, Australia
We’re starting out in Australia, with the Kangaroo Sanctuary. Celebrating the life and magnificence of the Red Kangaroo, the sanctuary is based right in the centre of Aus, just outside Alice Springs. The team run a 188-acre wildlife reserve, where they raise, rehabilitate and release orphaned kangaroos. Any that can’t be released into the wider Australian outback still get a comfy, safe and natural home within the reserve, too.
Whether you opt for a late afternoon stroll or a guided sunset tour, you can get up close and personal with some of their special residents. It’s the No. 1 thing to do in Alice Springs, and you’ll be able to feel warm and fuzzy at knowing that your donation and custom is helping to repopulate the Red Kangaroo community in Australia.
Go and explore for yourself, just check out their website for more details.
#2: Libearty Bear Sanctuary, Romania
Why not take a trip to Romania? When Cristina Lapis came to realise the horrific treatment of bears in the country, she set about with creating Libearty Bear Sanctuary. Across 70 hectares of forest in the Carpathian Mountains, the sanctuary now houses over 70 bears, all enjoying a new lease of life.
Most of the bears looked after in the sanctuary were captured as cubs, meaning they can’t ever truly be released into the wild without a great risk to their lives, but here they’re able to climb trees, swim in pools and forage to their heart’s content. Rescued from circus owners, substandard zoos and other forms of captivity, the sanctuary is not only caring for the bears and giving them their own simulated wilderness, but is also raising awareness within Romania of the importance of nature.
If you want to visit, you’ll need to go in the morning, which is the only time the sanctuary’s open. You can get all the info for visiting on their website.
#3: One Ocean Diving, Hawaii
Hawaii’s not just for beaches and luaus. If you’re taking a trip there, you could also have the most amazing experience swimming with sharks. Yep, you heard me. Actual, real life, wild sharks. One Ocean focus their efforts on studying and conserving the wildlife deep underwater, and with 90% of shark species eradicated in the past 20 years, it’s one heck of a task.
That’s why they focus on educating visitors and taking them out on carefully planned dives. See sharks, turtles, dolphins and tonnes of other marine life as part of your trip and get the skinny on how these gorgeous animals survive in the wild. You can even record it all with a rented GoPro or hire a pro photographer! Book your flights, get going, and book your trip online.
#4: The Big Cat Sanctuary, England
If you’re looking for something a little closer to home, check out the Big Cat Sanctuary in Kent. Based in the countryside of Smarden, there’s a peaceful site that’s working hard to encourage breeding and rehabilitation of a whole heap of endangered big cats. Across 32 acres of grassland, there’s over 50 cats to meet and marvel, from African lions right the way through to Servals, and everything in between.
You can experience the joy of seeing these wild cats in a natural setting, with space to roam and hunt as much as they like. If you decide to take a visit, you’ll not only get the opportunity to observe them; you can also book personal experiences to meet some of their cheetahs and lions, or spend the day shadowing a park ranger and get the full experience. If you’re really wanting to push the boat out, you can even stay in the park lodge, to experience the sounds of the jungle while in the heart of Kent.
Check out all the details about visiting on their website and book your next staycation now.