See Cute Critters in the Wild

by funnywebpark | 11:52 PM in , , , , , |

Where to See Cute Animals
It's fun to visit favorite animals in the zoo, but visiting them in their natural environments can be much more meaningful. Here we present great places around the world to view 16 irresistible creatures. Any time you’re viewing wild animals, of course, remember that you are in their territory; respect their habitat and keep your distance.

Bison

American bison have made a triumphant return from the brink after being hunted nearly to extinction in the 1800s. While most bison these days are part of captive herds, a few locations have populations of free-roaming animals. Notable among these is Yellowstone National Park, where the number of bison ranges between 2,300 and 4,500.  Yellowstone is the only place in the U.S. where bison have lived continuously since before recorded history.

Elephants

Both cute and mighty, elephants are the largest land animals on the planet. These intelligent creatures are found in much of Asia and, especially, in Africa. Some of the best places to see free-roaming pachyderms are in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, which boasts large elephant herds. Other good sites include Addo Elephant National Park in South Africa and the Maputa Special Reserve in Mozambique.

Wild Horses

Assateague Island National Seashore, split between Maryland and Virginia, is home to a population of several hundred wild horses. It’s likely that the graceful creatures are descended from domestic horses that lived in the area a few hundred years ago, although local folklore holds that the horses’ ancestors survived a shipwreck off the Virginia coast. The horses gallop through the park, so you’re likely to see them on the beach or in marshes.

Gorillas

Gorilla habitat covers only a small part of Africa, and both gorilla species are considered endangered. There’s disagreement over the potential risks tourism might hold for gorillas, but the International Gorilla Conservation Programme states that gorillas and tourism are “inextricably linked. Arguably, neither has a future without the other.” Good places to see these magnificent primates include Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.

Giraffes

Want to stick your neck out and see giraffes in their natural habitat? A great place to do so is in Chobe National Park in Botswana. Giraffe families tend to hang out in the northeast area of the park, near the Chobe River. Other good giraffe-viewing spots include Kenya’s Nairobi National Park and Tanzania’s Arusha National Park.

Marmots

If you’re on a hike in the mountains, keep your eyes peeled for adorable, fuzzy marmots. Similar to prairie dogs, these big ground squirrels are a common sight in the world’s mountainous regions. In North America, you’re likely to see hoary and yellow-bellied marmots in the Cascades and Rockies of the U.S. and Canada; their close relatives, the Olympic marmots, live on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula and are especially easy to spot on Hurricane Ridge.

Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn sheep are quintessential denizens of the Rocky Mountains. You can find them at parks throughout the Rockies, but perhaps the best place to see them is in Alberta’s Jasper National Park. During winter, you’ll find them at lower elevations; in the warmer months, they’re likely to be hanging around in the high alpine meadows.

Polar Bears

Churchill, Manitoba, on the shores of Hudson Bay, is often called the “Polar Bear Capital of the World” thanks to the graceful white ursines that visit in the fall. The best way to see the furry white beasts is in the special all-terrain vehicles, called “tundra buggies,” that take visitors on polar bear tours throughout the area. Prime polar bear viewing lasts from early October to mid-November.

Penguins

Emperor penguins are always popular with cute-animal fans, but their Antarctic home base is awfully cold and remote. One of the most accessible places to see these tuxedoed seabirds is on Snow Hill Island, on the Antarctic Peninsula, which stretches north toward South America. Around 4,000 breeding pairs of penguins live here, and tours take place in October and November, at the tail end of the breeding season.

Moose

Moose are a common sight in many parts of the world, but the largest subspecies — whose scientific name translates loosely to “giant moose” — calls Alaska and Canada’s Yukon territory home. The critters are common throughout the area, but if you want to make sure you see one, try one of Alaska’s national parks, such as Kenai Fjords National Park. Your odds are highest along the Seward Highway or in the Exit Glacier area.

Blue-footed Boobies

A little more than 500 miles west of Ecuador lie the Gal├ípagos Islands, a veritable treasure-trove of endemic wildlife. One of the islands’ most famous residents is the blue-footed booby, a seabird with distinctive turquoise-blue feet. While those colorful toes certainly catch the eyes of human fans, the birds are more concerned with impressing each other: Male blue-footed boobies show off their blue feet while “dancing” during courtship.

Harp Seals

The harp seal’s genus, Pagophilus, means “ice lover,” so you know you’ll have to get cold to see these cute, social marine critters. The world’s biggest harp seal population breeds off the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland or around the Gulf of St. Lawrence. They like to haul themselves out of the water and hang out on ice or snow, and your best chance of seeing them is on the ice floes off Canada’s Maritime provinces.

Wallabies

Australia is famed for its kangaroos and koalas, but arguably the cutest marsupial you’ll find in the wild is the wallaby. One of the most common species is the red-necked wallaby, frequently found in the Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania states. Look for them in the grassy areas of Bunya Mountains National Park in Queensland, where they’re abundant.

Manatees

These gentle aquatic giants are endangered, but it’s possible to visit them — and even swim with them — while still respecting their space. One of the best places to see manatees is at the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, which aims to protect the manatee and its habitat. Try going with an established company to make sure you follow all laws and regulations when visiting.

Lemurs

Lemurs resemble a cross between a cat and a monkey (they’re related to the latter but not the former), and they’re found in the wild only in Madagascar and the Comoro Islands. Most lemur species are either endangered or threatened. Spot them at places such as Madagascar’s Andringita National Park, Ranomafana National Park and Andasibe Special Reserve. They’re a lot of fun to watch, with behaviors such as dancing across the sand or leaping more than 30 feet.

Zebras

What’s black and white and striped all over? A zebra, of course. These horselike critters look like they’re wearing a referee’s uniform and are native to sub-Saharan Africa. You can find zebras in places such as Zambia’s Luangwa National Park, Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve and Namibia’s Etosha National Park.