California is known for its beaches and amusement parks, but it’s also home to great animal experiences. From California’s best zoos to wild experiences, let us take you on a California animal tour beyond the San Diego Zoo…
The San Diego Zoo is a world-famous zoo that ranks alongside SD Wild Animal Park and deserves its reputation. But that’s just a few of the wide variety of animals found both in California’s conservation parks and in the wild.
So let’s assume you already know that the San Diego Zoo is worth visiting. Instead, we’ll focus on lesser-known places in California where you can see and learn about animals.
We have a lot to cover, so let’s dive right in!
The best of CA Zoos, Aquariums and more!
We RVers know that we enjoy seeing wildlife more than anything else. However, the beautiful nature of our country is home to a great many species. Many of them are rarely (if ever) seen.
Sometimes it’s nice to see more animals up close and learn about conservation efforts to protect them. I have the deepest respect for the animal ambassadors of zoos, aquariums and nature reserves to spread awareness of their wild brothers.
We are also very grateful for the great ethical progress that California’s best zoos and aquariums are making to provide animal ambassadors with the best lives possible. The improvement is very evident. That’s why all the destinations on this list are known for their compassion for animals.
1. Fresno Chaffee Zoo
The Fresno Chaffee Zoo is a perfect example of creation. habitat For animals, not cages. For over a decade, the zoo has continuously upgraded its small park in big ways. He’s definitely one of the best CA zoos, although much smaller than the San Diego Zoo.
Their greatest achievement so far is an African adventure. This 13-acre property is home to African elephants, lions, cheetahs, white rhinos, giraffes and ostriches. The open habitat makes the animals seem mingled, but clever architecture and landscape design separate them.
Sea Lion Cove is also making impressive progress. Less than 20 years later, these sea lions were trapped in a small circular pool. Now they have a deep and expansive pool for swimming and playing. Visitors can watch them frolic from several vantage points, including an underwater viewing area.
The Fresno Chaffee Zoo will open its long-awaited Asian Kingdom in early 2023 with sprawling enclosures for primates, sloth bears and several new species.
This relatively small zoo is a hidden gem not far from Yosemite National Park. Anyone visiting Yosemite should definitely visit this zoo.
PSST! While in Fresno, check out the unique underground garden.
2. Project Survival Cat Haven
Speaking of Yosemite, there is another animal destination worth visiting while in the area. Project Survival Cat Haven was founded in 1993 to save the world’s rarest cats.
It’s not a big park that you can play in about an hour and a half, but you can see 25 cats up close. The reserve also offers daily tours to further introduce you to the cats and conservation efforts.
Located on 93 acres just west of Kings Canyon National Park, known for its giant redwood trees. So you can see a big cat and a big tree in one day.
3. Safari West
Located in wine country, this wildlife park is known as the “Sonoma Serengeti.” Like Cathaven, this park opened in his 1993. Since then, he has pursued “his three key goals: conservation, education and exploration.”
Visitors can go on a day safari or stay overnight with Safari Glamping. Falling asleep to the sounds of the African wilderness is the same reason he leaves his RV at night.
Additionally, it offers a fine dining experience inspired by a South African tradition called braai.
Mike and Jennifer’s Summer T-shirt for your next adventure
4. West Coast Falconry
Bird lovers can enjoy a unique falconry experience just north of Sacramento, California. West Coast Her Falconry promotes “protection through education,” with over 10 different experiences to choose from.
Take basic falconry lessons, encounter all kinds of birds of prey, or enjoy a fun nature walk. There are excursions for all ages, but mostly he’s 7 and up.
5. Lions, tigers and bears
Not far from the world-famous San Diego Zoo is the Lions, Tigers and Bears, a large cat and exotic animal rescue team. Go on his two-hour guided educational visits of sanctuaries and animal habitats and you’ll surely say “oh my.”
More than 60 animals of 19 species live here. Upgrade your tour so he can feed one or all of the animals he meets. Tours are by appointment only, so please book early.
6. Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey Bay is probably as famous as the San Diego Zoo, but many non-Westerners may not know about it.
An incredible non-profit public aquarium known for its regional focus on the marine habitats of Monterey Bay. The marine exhibit is just part of it.
Their scientists are working to rebuild sea otter populations, transform fishermen and aquaculture around the world, and protect California’s oceans.
Located on the California Coast, it’s the perfect stop during your California tour along scenic Highway 1.
7. Elephant Seal Vista Point
Further south on scenic Highway 1, you can see elephant seals, rare wildlife creatures. These big-nosed seals lounge, bark and sometimes fight on highly visible beaches.
In fact, the Piedras Blancas rookery is the only elephant seal rookery in the world that is easily accessible, free and open to the public all year round. No reservation required. Even RVs can be driven and parked to see the animals.
8. Aquarium of the Pacific
The Aquarium of the Pacific rivals the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It is a 5 acre lot on Rainbow He Harbor in Long Beach, California.
There are beautiful exhibits including a shark lagoon and a fun penguin habitat. The aquarium hosts many unique educational programs, including guest speakers, arts and science events, and responsible seafood initiatives.
As a bonus, it’s right across from the famous Queen Mary. The iconic ship has become a tourist attraction.
9. Catalina Island Bison
People come to Yellowstone from all over the world to see bison, but you can see them a short boat ride from LAX. Yes, I’m a boater.
Small Catalina Island off the coast of California is home to a herd of wild bison. How did the bison get to the island? Hollywood is believed to be responsible.
The story goes that a film crew brought bison to the island to film scenes in the American West. vanishing american Also Swarm of thunder. Once filming was over, they apparently left the bison there to roam free.
10. Captain Dave’s Dana Point Whale & Dolphin Watching Safari
Sometimes you need to leave the land for the best animal experience. And California is known for its front row seats to the Pacific Ocean.
California has many whale watching tours, but the Dana Point Eco Safari is known to be one of the best. Operates year-round to look for whales, dolphins, sea lions and more.
During your cruise, your naturalist will tell you about sea creatures, their lifestyle, their natural habitat and what is being done to protect them.
Our catamarans are specially designed to give you the best possible experience, including an underwater viewing pod!
Our Favorite California National Parks
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