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If you love animals, you might try to squeeze in trips to local zoos when you travel. But another option to see and support the animals you love is to visit wildlife sanctuaries that emphasize education and conservation. While some sanctuaries aren’t open to the public, there are many others that welcome guests. These are some of the best animal sanctuaries that you can visit in the U.S.
Located just southwest of Shreveport, Louisiana, Chimp Haven is dedicated to the care of chimpanzees, many of which have been used for research. The facility is located on 200 acres of forested land and has staff to help care for around 300 chimpanzees. The chimps have lots of room to make sleeping nests, climb trees, and play on large structures. You can visit Chimp Haven on Chimpanzee Discovery Days, which happen about three times per year. Chip Chat & Chew Events give visitors a more intimate look into the chimps’ lives and include breakfast or lunch.
This wildlife sanctuary aims to rescue and care for animals, as well as educate the public about the risks of captive wildlife. Unlike a zoo, animals at the Wild Animal Sanctuary live in large, open habitats and aren’t required to perform for visitors. Instead, you can walk along a 1.5-mile walkway to see them in their natural habitats. Here, you’re likely to see lions, tigers, bears, wolves, and other animals on the 720-acre facility. Audio tours are available and accessible by cell phone to learn more about the animals beyond the posted signs.
Wild horses used to run free across the lands of South Dakota, but rarely anymore. An Oregon rancher and naturalist established this sanctuary near Hot Springs, South Dakota to care for wild horses that aren’t adoptable so they can experience the freedom they deserve. You can stop by any time of the year to see the mustangs, and two-hour tours are offered. Photo tours and three-hour, cross-country tours are also available by appointment. There’s a gift shop that’s open daily, and you can also stay overnight at the sanctuary in a rustic cabin or prairie house. RV spots are also available with full hookups when combined with a tour of the sanctuary.
Located in Northern California, Animal Place was founded in 1989 to be a home for farm animals. It’s located on 600 acres in Grass Valley and is dedicated to hundreds of neglected farm animals. Some animals are part of the permanent sanctuary, while others are available for adoption. You must register in advance to take a guided tour and see the pigs, goats, chickens, and other animals up close. Guided tours last about two hours and require a fair bit of walking. You can also do a self-guided tour, but these tours don’t allow for direct contact with the animals. There are some nice picnic spots to hang out in after your tour, but be mindful of the fact that all food you bring into the sanctuary must be vegan.
Another sanctuary that focuses on rescued farm animals is the Catskill Animal Sanctuary in Saugerties, New York. This is just a couple of hours north of New York City. Animals that live here include cows, pigs, horses, and sheep. You can visit the sanctuary as part of the general public on weekends between April and October. No reservations are needed for these tours. The tours last about an hour and a half. There’s also a pre-Civil War residence called the Homestead where guests can stay overnight and enjoy a seasonal vegan breakfast.
The Best Friends Animal Society has been operating the largest no-kill companion animal sanctuary in the country for over 30 years. This is an ideal place to visit for dog and cat lovers. You can take a free Grand Sanctuary tour any day of the year except for Christmas Day. These are two-hour tours that include a short video and a 90-minute van ride. They include interacting with cats and dogs and seeing sanctuary sites from the tour van. If you’re pressed for time, you can also take an abbreviated 45-minute tour instead.
Woodstock Farm Sanctuary is another great sanctuary that cares for rescued farm animals in High Falls, New York. Between April and October, you can take a tour. The tours are about 75 minutes long and allow you to see the animals and hear their rescue stories. You can bring your own vegan lunch or pick up prepared snacks and sandwiches at the visitor’s center.