One of the perks of traveling is seeing things you would otherwise not see at home. For example, when you're sitting at home doing nothing, you're certainly not getting up close and personal with some of the craziest wildlife in the world.
When traveling though, the sky is the limit. One of the best destinations for animal lovers, surprisingly, is the UK. Some of the best animal sanctuaries and zoos dot this island nation, just waiting for travelers like you to take advantage of them. Here are 10 great examples of animal encounters that the United Kingdom has to offer.
11 Edinburgh Zoo - Edinburgh and Lothian
Edinburgh Zoo on its own is fairly standard. It has solid exhibits, semi-overpriced concessions, and animals that you would hope to see at any zoo. But, Edinburgh is lucky enough to play host to two types of creatures otherwise absent from most British zoos.
The Edinburgh Zoo is home to the only Giant Pandas and Koalas in all of the UK. There are two pandas, Tian Tian, and Yang Guang, female and male respectively. In regards to the friends from down under, their names are Goonaroo, Alinga, Tanami Kalari, and the newest member little Joey.
10 The Isle Of Wight Donkey Sanctuary - Isle Of Wight
Maybe not the most exotic of creatures, but Donkeys are incredibly sweet. Sadly, they are often mistreated, abused, or neglected. That is where donkey sanctuaries, such as the one of the Isle of Wight come in, giving these furry friends a new and loving home.
The sanctuary is home to nearly one hundred donkeys, not to mention a small population of ponies too. Visitors can come and see the hard work that goes into hosting these animals, visit the gift shop and cafe, and get up close and personal with these sweet animals.
9 Scottish Seabird Centre - East Lothian
The UK is home to many animals purely of their own. Scotland, for example, is renowned for their coastal seabirds. Not too far from Edinburgh lies the Scottish Seabird Centre. This charity also doubles as a tourist attraction, teaching visitors about the environment and birds that call this place home.
Opening in 2000, the Scottish Seabird Centre offers exhibits and educational opportunities to learn about the local seabird population. With this, it also offers cruises to nearby rocks and habitats such as the Bass Rock.
8 ZSL London Zoo - Greater London
Why not stop by the worlds oldest scientific zoo on your British vacation? The London Zoo was founded back in 1828, serving as an observation park for academics. Many of the animals who first were housed in the zoo were transferred from none other than the Tower of London menagerie.
Now, the Zoo stands as one of the best in the country. Their lions are arguably their most famous exhibit, and their reptile house is a famous landmark for Harry Potter fans. It is also known for its excellent Lowland Gorilla enclosure.
7 Tiggywinkles Visitor Centre - Buckinghamshire
The UK is not always renowned for its exotic wildlife, but what it does have to offer is quintessentially English. Hedgehogs, red foxes, and more dot the countryside and are too adorable to handle. But, when one gets hurt, this is where they go to heal up.
Tiggywinkles (seriously that's its name) is one of the leading wildlife hospitals in the UK. Apart from its medical center, it is also open to visitors. It has a few residents critters that were unable to be returned to the wild, who now live on-site as educational tools. Come see the great work these veterinarians do and meet some of the cutest English critters around.
6 Yorkshire Wildlife Park - South Yorkshire
This is certainly one of the best zoos in the entirety of the UK. Yorkshire Wildlife Park was opened in 2008 and is now home to nearly 400 animal residents. It is one of the largest zoos in the UK, spanning across 260 acres. Almost all of the animal environments are large open spaces, providing even more room than most zoos.
When it comes to must-sees, the Polar Bears have to be number one. These four giants are the only Polar Bears housed in an English Zoo, adding a bit of exclusivity to this wildlife park. The park is known for its rehabilitation work, caring for animals who have been abused or neglected by lesser zoos and private owners.
5 The Screech Owl Sanctuary - Cornwall
Owls are some of the most fascinating birds of prey around. From their unique digestive abilities to their striking physique, owls have captured the imagination of humans for millennia. Well, if you've ever wanted to get up close and personal with these wise fowl, you can do so at the Screech Owl Sanctuary in Cornwall.
Here visitors can have one on one meetups with the owls under the supervision of a trained professional. It is a great way for youngsters and their parents to learn about these incredible birds.
3 Howletts Wild Animal Park - Kent
Howletts Wild Animal Park is much more than a simple zoo or safari. While the animals you will see are similar, and much of the layout is similar to a zoo, this impact this Park has on the lives of these animals is much more important.
Their first priority is breeding wild animals to be reintroduced into their natural habitat. This means their enclosures are open, and they do not force the animals out to be observed. The care of their elephants, big cats, and gorillas all come first while tourism comes second.
2 The Deep - Yorkshire
Maybe land critters aren't your forte? Well, The Deep might be the solution. One of the largest aquariums in the country, The Deep is both an excellent spot to view some aquatic life and appreciate fantastic architecture.
The exterior of the building is unreal and striking, designed by Sir Terry Farrell. Inside you will find exhibits showcasing a diverse array of fish life, mammals, birds, and even a glimpse into prehistory with their fossil exhibits. The underwater tunnels are a top-tier delight.
1 The Monkey Sanctuary - Cornwall
The final attraction is dedicated to everyone's favorite furry little primates: monkeys. Located in Cornwall, The Monkey Sanctuary offers visitors a chance to view rehabilitated monkeys who have been rescued by the Sanctuary.
So many monkeys become the victims of thoughtless pet owners who neglect them. The sanctuary offers these animals a home where they can remain safe, cared for, and stimulated.