Everyone loves animals and all over Southern California there are opportunities to see a variety at diverse locations. Check out a few of our favorites.

Santa Barbara

— At the Santa Barbara Zoo you can enjoy the regular experience seeing the animals, feeding the giraffes and sheep or you can spend a little more to get a closer look with a behind the scenes tour or a family safari.

500 Ninos Dr., Santa Barbara, www.sbzoo.org

Los Angeles

— At the Moorpark Zoo, America’s teaching zoo, you are able to get fairly close to the animals’ cages. It is a smaller zoo and only open on the weekends, but it offers an intimate experience.

On February 4 the zoo will celebrate Ira the lion’s 3rd birthday and guests can watch as he claws open his large presents and eats his special birthday treat.

7075 Campus Rd., Moorpark, https://www.moorparkcollege.edu/teaching-zoo

— The public can visit The Wildlife Learning Center where all varieties of displaced and rescued animals are given sanctuary. They even have birthday parties with a guided safari.

16027 Yarnell St., Sylmar, www.wildlifelearningcenter.org

— The Los Angeles Zoo boasts of having more than 1,000 animals with more than 250 species on 133 acres. Some of the most unique animals include a Sumatran Tiger, Visayan Warty Pigs, Yellow-Footed Rock Wallaby and Cape Griffon Vulture. The zoo often has special events.

5333 Zoo Dr., Los Angeles, www.lazoo.org

— See the penguins above and below the water at the Aquarium of the Pacific. Sea otters and whales are favorites as well. The 10,000 square-foot shark lagoon is the biggest attraction with more than 150 sharks and interactive displays.

100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, www.aquariumofpacific.org

The Star Eco Station Environmental Science Museum & Exotic Wildlife Rescue Facility is a haven for endangered and illegally trafficked exotic animals. This venue touts lessons in ecology and environmentalism through hands-on encounters with exotic birds, reptiles, mammals and ocean life.

10101 Jefferson Blvd., Culver City, www.ecostation.org

— On the weekends, Malibu Wine Safari opens its safari to those guests who are under 21-years-old. Held at the 1,000 acre Saddlerock Ranch and vineyard, it is home to about 20 exotic animals including camels, zebras, alpacas, bison, a giraffe named Stanley, as well as many horses. You’ll get to feed and pet the animals and enjoy a beautiful backdrop, while riding in a custom open-air safari vehicle.

32111 Mulholland Hwy., Malibu, www.lasafaris.com

— At The Montebello Barnyard Zoo, children will enjoy pony rides, a petting zoo full of sheep, goats, ducks, chickens and rabbits and lots of other activities.

600 Rea Dr., Montebello, www.montebellobarnyardzoo.com

Orange County

— The OC Zoo which exhibits animals in their natural habitats including black bears, mountain lions, coyotes and more.

There is also a petting zoo with such animals as domestic goats, pot-bellied pigs, sheep and chickens.

1 Irvine Park Rd., Orange, www.ocparks.com/zoo

At Zoomars Petting Zoo there’s a 1,000-pound cow, ponies, llamas, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, alpaca, emu, rabbits, guinea pigs and horses with which to interact as well as other fun activities for the family.

31791 Los Rios St., San Juan Capistrano, www.zoomars.com

— A smaller zoo, The Santa Ana Zoo features 80 species of animals and is known for having 50 monkeys on the premises at all times. Kids can pet some of the animals and learn about life on a farm.

They will be celebrating their 65th birthday March 4-5.

1801 E. Chestnut Ave., Santa Ana, www.santaanazoo.org

Palm Springs

— Since 1970 The Living Desert has been engaged in preserving, conserving and interpreting the desert and its plant and animal life. Guests can see 600 animals from 145 species, including endangered species, on 1,200 acres.

A special event starting at 7:30 a.m. on February 25, the 3rd annual Living Desert Cheetah Run, allows participants to run through the venue alongside zebras, camels and cheetahs and then enjoy a day at the zoo.

47900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert, www.livingdesert.org

San Diego

— You can feed the giraffes and hear the animal keeper’s tales at The San Diego Zoo or pet a sheep’s coat or comb a pygmy goat’s hair in the Petting Paddock. With more than 3,700 animals of more than 650 species, the San Diego Zoo, with an aerial tram ride called the Skyfari, is one of only four zoos in the United States which have giant pandas on display.

2920 Zoo Dr., Balboa Park, www.sandiegozoo.org

— The San Diego Zoo Safari Park (formerly known as San Diego Wild Animal Park) has an emphasis on conservation and making a difference in the lives of endangered animals. Some of the featured exhibits are the African Plains with elephants, rhinos and giraffes, the African Outpost is home to cheetahs, flamingos and warthogs and the Asian Savanna where you can see Przwalski’s horses, deer and one-horned rhinos.

15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd., Escondido, sdzsafaripark.org



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