The Triangle is a terrific place to live for a variety of reasons, but with such prominent cities comes an overwhelming amount of activities or events hosted each week. With festivals, concerts, food or drink tours, and more, the Triangle seems to have it all. While those specific events can get a bit repetitive, one type of activity many haven’t considered is having an animal-oriented outing. The Triangle has a surprising amount of exotic animals and wildlife centers open to the public that are surely worth exploring.
So we’ve gathered our Top 3 favorite organizations with exciting animal encounters, exhbitis, and enriching opportunities that every Triangle local should explore.
1. Practice Your Roar with Real Tigers
Did you know there are real life tigers right here in Central North Carolina? The Carolina Tiger Rescue in Pittsboro is the spot to see majestic big cats for yourself, up close and personal. But don’t let this non-profit wildlife sanctuary’s name fool you, they also have lions, servals, ocelots, and plenty more. They even house kinkajous, which no, isn’t the name of an exotic cocktail; but actually a fascinating, cuddly relative to bears.
The Carolina Tiger Rescue offers multiple types of tours, from general public and private, to specific outings for either children, adults, and those interested in volunteering. From learning how the big cats hunt, to why a caracal’s paws are so big, this charming organziation is sure to bring a special experience to all ages.
2. Tour Zoboomafoo’s Home in Durham
There are dozens of lemurs that look just like the popular television character at the Duke Lemur Center. Plus, Zoboomafoo himself (real name Jovian) was actually born at the center, where he also lived out much of his life. This 85-acre sanctuary and research center at Duke University is an engaging location to see lemurs in a more natural habitat than typical zoo-like enclosures. Open year-round, the Duke Lemur Center is home to 15 species of lemurs and 2 species of loris, which are essentially tiny fluff-balls with shockingly-large eyes.
Reservations are key at the center, as you won’t be able to simply walk in and see the lemurs without confirming a reservation ahead of time. Depending on your budget, age, and the amount of walking or standing you want to do, you can choose from four different tours; each of which vary in degree of education, interest, and views of the lemurs.
3. Float like Butterflies or Run like Wolves
As a Raleigh-based company, we love the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh. However, our neighbors in Durham have a tremedous museum too that’s actually much larger: The Musuem of Life and Science. If the snakes, taxidermy, and giant hissing cockroaches at the Raleigh musuem aren’t your thing (we don’t blame you), you can stroll through hundreds of butterflies, watch fluffy red wolves run around, or tour NC-specific wildlife (like owls, muskrats, and black bears) at the Durham museum.
The Musuem of Life and Science has a bit more of a hefty price-tag, with general adult admission at $21 and children’s tickets at $16; however, you are certainly getting a worthwhile expereince at those prices. With how large the musuem’s facilities are, definitley consider wearing comfortable walking shoes and packing a water-bottle and suncreen for the outdoor exhibits. Visiting this musuem will take quite a few hours, especially if you’re brining little ones, so remember to take breaks or consider breaking down your trip into specific sections to accommodate snack or nap time.
Regardless of which animal experience you choose, we’re certain all ages will enjoy visiting these wonderful Triangle organizations, and perhaps you’ll learn something new by experiencing nature in an engaging way.
Featured tiger photo is by Nathan White Images; found on Medium.com and the WWF