Animal Encounters & Zoos That Are Open Now
Foxes, camels, ostriches, cheetahs, oh my! Check out this list of animal sanctuaries, ranches, and zoos that are outdoors and open. Many offer private tours for an extra special way to connect with animals you don’t get to see everyday. If you plan on visiting one of these animal destinations, be sure to read up on their safety guidelines and reserve tickets in advance.
Note: Information is updated as of 7/22/20. As changes and closures can happen unexpectedly, we recommend contacting the business directly for the most current COVID-19 updates.
Children’s Nature Retreat
5178 Japatul Spur, Alpine
The Children’s Nature Retreat welcomes visitors of all ages to explore 20-acres of terrain, which acts as a safe haven to over 120 domesticated livestock and exotic animals from around the world. A single-visit pass includes animal interaction from outside of the enclosures. Visit horses, goats, alpacas, zebras, camels, pigs, peacocks, and lots more.
COVID-19 Update: The retreat is open Thursday-Sunday with advance reservation.
Single-Visit Pass: $18-28 per person (children under 2 years are free)
Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary
8545 Buttemere Road, Phelan
This non-profit sanctuary allows visitors to meet exotic animals like bobcats, raccoons, owls, tigers, foxes, reptiles, and more. Follow them on social media to stay updated and see what the animals are up to!
COVID-19 Update: Open for tours by appointment only, call to make a reservation. Their Snake Room is off limits to guests right now, but when they reopen, you’ll be able to see rattlesnakes, a Black Mamba, and even a King Cobra.
Cost: $6-15 per person (children under 2 and under are free)
Lions Tigers & Bears
24402 Martin Way, Alpine
Visit this 93-acre scenic sanctuary and historic ranch where you will get to meet exotic animals and big cats like Louie the White Lion (above) and learn their rescue stories. Lions Tigers & Bears is a “no contact” sanctuary.
COVID-19 Update: All visits are by appointment only.
Member for a Day: $26-46 per person
Oasis Camel Dairy Farm
26757 Highway 78, Ramona
Camels are the rockstars of this farm, but you’ll also get to meet comical cockatoos, colorful parrots, smiling sheep, and talkative turkeys! Your tour includes all the treats to feed the camels (apple pops!) and grain for the mini sheep. You can also add camel rides to your experience!
COVID-19 Update: Open for family/household private tours. You and your family (up to 10 members) will enjoy the farm with just the animals and staff. No other guests will be on grounds during your tour.
Cost: $150 for up to 10 family/household members
610 E. Highway 246, Solvang
Have you ever fed an ostrich? It’s pretty thrilling! These big birds have a lot of pecking power. Visit this ranch of 100+ ostriches and emus as they eat from your bowl and run around vast fields. You might even get a chance to see ostrich chicks! Don’t forget to buy yourself a fresh ostrich egg — equal to 18-24 chicken eggs!
COVID-19 Update: The ranch is now open daily. Book reservations online.
Cost: $2-5 per person
Lakewood Equestrian Center, 11369 Carson St., Lakewood
Petting zoo with goats, chickens, sheep, an alpaca, llamas, and a cow. Hand-led ponies around a trot track are also available. Follow their Facebook page to the most current updates.
COVID-19 Update: Now open for pony rides, picture ponies, and mom and me classes.
Cost: $2-5 per person
Discover thousands of rare and endangered animals at both the Zoo and Safari Park.
COVID-19 Update: Both the Zoo and Safari Park are outdoor destinations and remain open. During the initial reopening phase, there will be limited shows, shopping, dining, and transportation experiences. The parks are limiting the number of guests and entry will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit the website for best times to visit and estimated wait times.
1-Day Pass: $48-58 (children two and under are free)
Susie Q Ranch
28330 Mary Place, Murrieta
Susie Q Ranch offers horseback trail rides and accommodates first-time riders to experienced (ages 4+). Their 90-minute trail ride will take you for a scenic ride up hills and through valleys and meadows of Temecula Valley. They also offer a 60-minute trail.
COVID-19 Update: Open for guided horseback rides by reservation only.
Cost: $60-80 per person
Wild Wonders is a 5-acre home to over 120 animal ambassadors. Interactive animal experience available now include Celebration VIP Behind the Scenes Tour, Meet and Greet a Cheetah, Meet and Feed a Bearcat, Cat Training 101, and Wallaby Walkabout. Custom tours are also available!
COVID-19 Update: The facility is open to family/household members ages 5+. Only your family/group will be at the facility during your experience.
Experiences: $250+ per group of 1-4 people
31791 Los Rios St., San Juan Capistrano
Pet and feed adorable guinea pigs, goats, sheep, and see over 100 farm animals. Kids can also play on a western-themed playground, ride ponies, and pan for “gold”, real gemstones, fossils, and other treasures. They can also jump on an electric mini excavator to scoop, dig, and pile up sand!
COVID-19 Update: You can purchase entry and attraction tickets online.
Daily admission, $10-15; attractions, $3-28.
Closures: As of 7/22/20, the following facilities remain closed.
Animal Tracks – Agua Dulce
Centennial Farm – Costa Mesa
Los Angeles Zoo – Los Angeles
Orange County Zoo – Orange
Santa Ana Zoo – Santa Ana
STAR Eco Station – Culver City
The Reptile Zoo – Fountain Valley
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This post was written by Alina Na