Friday, June 22, 2018 Edition: U.S. & World | Regional

4 Incredible Destinations Where Wild Animals Rule the Roost

It’s an undisputed, proven fact, animal lovers display a more empathetic attitude, are more positive about life, and their generosity often goes above the call of duty. According to a Gallup study, six out of 10 Americans own pets. Forty-Four percent of us own one or more dogs. Twenty-nine percent own one or more cats. Three percent own snakes, fish, tarantulas, pigs, or an alligator named Rambo like 55-year-old Floridian, Mary Thorn. Pets calm our nerves and love us unconditionally, except perhaps the pets of the three percent owning “other” things.

As Charles Darwin so eloquently put it, “The love for all living creatures is one of the noblest attributes of man.” If your affinity for the animal kingdom surpasses any pet you can adopt or purchase, start saving up, there are some really cool places you need to visit.

Rottnest Island, Australia

This relatively unheard of Australian island is an A-class reserve. The islands’ inhabitants are highly reputed for their conservation efforts and community values. Every plant, including weeds, and every animal and insect are protected by law. Don’t pick anything, stay on the trails, and do not for any reason disturb the wildlife in their natural habitats. They are there for observation purposes only. Visitors are asked to report any injured animals and animal cruelty will cost the guilty party $50 thousand dollars and five years in the pokey.

Quokkas, appropriately dubbed the happiest animals on earth, draw in the largest numbers of curious animal enthusiasts. They’re about the size of a domestic cat and are the smallest members of the macropod family which includes kangaroos and wallabies. They are also the only land mammal on the island.

Quokkas emerge at night to scavenge for food and though they are classified as happy, they aren’t afraid of using their razor sharp rear claws if provoked. And then there are their teeth… Never try to feed one. The islands infirmary treats dozens of Quokka bites every year, mostly children who got away from their parents and didn’t know any better.

Quokkas have established large settlements near tourist resorts, condos, youth hostiles, and anywhere they can be assured of an easy meal. They’ve even been known to raid a kitchen cabinet through an open window.

If observing these rat-faced cat sized critters appeals to your sense of animal adventure, Rottnest Island awaits you.
Rottnest Island, Australia
Zao Fox Village, Japan

There is a tiny village in the mountains near Shiroisis, Japan. Within this village, there are 100 different free animals. But the main attraction belongs to the six different varieties of foxes who always steal the show.

In the U.S. a fox might be spotted now and then but it will quickly dash away if approached. They want nothing to do with people. At Zao Fox Village they’ll approach you. They’ll even eat out of your hand. Because they’ve been protected from birth, they have no fear of humans. The foxes are kept within a huge area where they roam freely among the many trees and bushes. Visitors say it gives the feeling of being far in the wilderness.

Because of the six varieties, there are foxes of many colors and sizes. Some will approach visitors out of curiosity, sniffing their scents. Others might run away. Some will be napping and some will be playing. After you feed one it may stalk you for awhile hoping for another morsel, but visitors must remember these are wild animals and even though they are friendly it is never advisable to physically touch one. Their instinctual defense mechanism might kick in and their teeth are very sharp.
Zao Fox Village, Japan
Exuma, Bahamas

Not far from the part-time residences of such major stars as Johnny Depp and David Copperfield, and only 40-miles from the southern tip of Florida, lies an island not controlled by its human inhabitants. Creatures were on the island long before the rush of tourists began invading their homeland, but rather than reject their visitors, they choose to live in harmony with them. The creatures are not something out of the Black Lagoon by any means, they are wild and beautiful pigs.

The pigs of Exuma Island attract thousands of visitors every year, including the rich and famous who revel in taking advantage of photo ops with them. Unlike the fat hogs we see being raised only for the slaughter, these pigs are small and trim, they are wid and free, and they absolutely love swimming in the warm waters of the islands surrounding ocean.  But the most fun and exciting part of going to see the pigs in their natural habitat is not just in watching them, they never mind if someone decides to join them for a refreshing dip.

The pigs of Exuma are so accustomed to visitors invading their turf, some of them can actually be picked up and petted.
Exuma, Bahamas
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

If seeing countless monkeys hanging from trees, sloths, and plenty of other wildlife in a rainforest type setting appeals to you, hop the next flight to Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio National Park and your fantasy will become reality. The park boasts of housing 109 species of mammals, and 109 varieties of birds, all in their natural habitats.

Certified guides are available to take groups or private parties deep into the forest on animal spotting excursions, and they never disappoint. The guides know which animals are friendly and which ones to steer clear of so going it alone is never recommended. Besides this, the chances of getting lost in the woods are not in anyone’s favor who is unfamiliar with the lay of the land.

The park receives as many as 150,000 visitors a year but many of them come simply to enjoy the gorgeous beaches and couldn’t care less about the wildlife. This is okay because it only means that while people are busy splashing in the ocean, the forest itself will not be crowded with animal lovers seeking glimpses of what you came to see.

 
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
There are many places in the world where those with an affinity for observing wildlife can travel to. If this is a passion of yours, try these places out or do an internet search to find a place that may appeal more to you. They’re out there, you just have to find them.
 

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