Los Angeles is a city with a lot to offer visitors, from its world-famous beaches and Hollywood attractions to its diverse neighborhoods and vibrant arts scene. But did you know that LA is also home to some of the best zoos, aquariums, and wildlife sanctuaries in the country?
If you’re looking for a fun and educational day out with the family, be sure to check out one of these amazing animal attractions.
Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Los Angeles
The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is one of the oldest zoos in the United States, and it’s home to over 1,400 animals from around the world. The zoo is divided into several different geographical zones, so you can see animals from Africa, Asia, North America, and more. There are also several educational exhibits that teach visitors about animal conservation. During Halloween they also offer Boo at the Zoo and during the holiday season they host the popular event Zoo Lights. My personal favorite though is their private animal encounters.
Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach
The Aquarium of the Pacific is a must-see for any marine life lover. The aquarium is home to over 11,000 marine animals from over 500 species, including sharks, penguins, sea otters, and dolphins. There are also several interactive exhibits that allow visitors to touch sea stars, sea anemones, and other marine creatures. They also offer special preview days throughout the year just for homeschoolers.
Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, San Pedro
The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is a small but well-curated aquarium located in San Pedro, California. The aquarium is focused on the marine life of the Southern California coast, and it features exhibits on everything from seahorses to sharks. There is also a touch pool where visitors can get up close and personal with some of the aquarium’s animals. They offer excellent grade specific field trips as well.
Heal the Bay Aquarium, Santa Monica
Heal the Bay Aquarium, formally known The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, is a small, free aquarium located on the Santa Monica Pier. The aquarium is home to a variety of marine life from the Pacific Ocean, including sea stars, sea anemones, and crabs. There is also a touch pool where visitors can get up close and personal with some of the aquarium’s animals.
Gentle Barn, Santa Clarita
The Gentle Barn in Santa Clarita, California is a non-profit organization that rescues farm animals from abuse and neglect. The organization operates several “sanctuaries” where the animals can live out the rest of their lives in peace and safety. Visitors to the Gentle Barn can meet the animals, learn about their stories, and participate in educational programs.
One interesting fact about the farm is that they offer cow hug therapy for visitors! Advance reservations are required. The Gentle Barn is also home to one of the many other local family farms in the greater Los Angeles area.
Wildlife Learning Center, Sylmar
The Wildlife Learning Center in Sylmar, California is a non-profit organization that provides educational programs about wildlife conservation. The center operates a wildlife hospital where injured and orphaned animals are rehabilitated. Visitors to the Wildlife Learning Center can learn about the center’s work, meet some of the animals, and participate in educational programs. They also interactive educational tours and animal experiences for an additional cost.
Montebello Barnyard Zoo, Montebello
The Montebello Barnyard Zoo is a small zoo located in Montebello, California. The zoo is home to a variety of farm animals, including goats, sheep, pigs, and chickens. Visitors to the zoo can feed the animals, pet them, and learn about their care.
America’s Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College, Moorpark
America’s Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College is a non-profit zoo located in Moorpark, California. The zoo is home to over 200 animals from around the world, and it offers educational programs for both children and adults. Visitors to the zoo can learn about animal conservation, animal behavior, and animal care. The zoo also offer an Associate Degree in Exotic Animal Care for students.
These are just a few of the many amazing zoos, aquariums, and wildlife sanctuaries near Los Angeles. With so many options to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect place to learn about and appreciate the natural world.
Happy Field Tripping!