Nothing seems to warm our hearts like spending time among amazing animals. And we’re lucky to have many wildlife centers all around Los Angeles we can visit with the whole family.
Wildlife centers are important institutions that can serve as a lifeline for animals who are injured, sick, or orphaned. These centers provide critical care and rehabilitation services to animals in need, helping them to recover and return to their natural habitats. Additionally, wildlife centers play a vital role in educating the public about the importance of conservation and the need to protect our planet’s biodiversity.
At wildlife centers, experienced professionals work tirelessly to provide expert care to animals in need. From administering medication and providing specialized diets to performing surgeries and physical therapy, these dedicated individuals are committed to ensuring the health and well-being of the animals in their care. Furthermore, wildlife centers often work closely with other organizations, such as government agencies and conservation groups, to develop strategies for protecting endangered species and preserving natural habitats.
Visiting a wildlife center can be a fascinating and educational experience for people of all ages. Many centers offer guided tours and interactive exhibits, providing visitors with the opportunity to learn about the animals they are helping to support. By promoting awareness and understanding of the issues facing wildlife today, these centers are helping to create a brighter future for all living creatures.
Wildlife Centers in Southern California
Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary
8545 Buttemere Rd., Phelan, CA 92371
Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary is “dedicated to preserving the lives of abused, neglected, and abandoned exotic animals through rescue, rehabilitation, and education.” Families can arrange for a guided tour.
California Wolf Center
2775 B St., Julian, CA 92036
The California Wolf Center is “dedicated to the return of wild wolves to their natural habitat and to the people who share the landscape with them” and is happy to welcome visitors. Several tour options are available including a Public Wolf Conservation Tour as well as a Public Behavioral Enrichment Tour. Masks and/or face coverings are required as are advance reservations. Additionally, the Visitor Center and Nature Store offer a “children’s education station with interactive learning experiences.” Children 4 and under may attend the tours free of charge.
The Gentle Barn
15825 Sierra Hwy., Santa Clarita, CA 91390
The Gentle Barn is a very special place. Here, you’ll find animals who are rescued from “severe abuse and neglect who are too old, sick, lame, or scared to be adopted into homes.” Pigs, peacocks, emus, turkeys, llamas, and more all call The Gentle Barn home. Check their website to learn about tours.
Wildlife Learning Center
16027 Yarnell St., Sylmar, CA 91342
Wildlife Learning Center is a “zoological park nestled in an old olive grove in San Fernando Valley.” At WLC, families will have the chance to “appreciate and learn about animals from around the world.” While the WLC is currently closed for general admission, families can currently enjoy a private Zoofari Tour. Enjoy a 30-minute guided tour and the opportunity to meet an animal up close including the option to feed a giraffe or touch an armadillo. Details and reservations are available online.
Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center
21900 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, CA 92646
The Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center is dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of injured and orphaned native wildlife. The center is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year. In the event of a petroleum spill, their trained volunteers are on a 24-hour call to respond to aid California wildlife.
5200 Escondido Canyon Rd., Acton, CA 93510
Farm Sanctuary was “founded in 1986 to combat the abuses of factory farming and encourage a new awareness and understanding about farm animals.” At Farm Sanctuary, animals are regarded as friends, not food. The 26-acre Sanctuary provides shelter for about 100 animals (including pigs, turkeys, cows, and other farm animals) and also offers one-hour guided tours.
Pacific Marine Mammal Center
20612 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Beach, CA 92651
At Pacific Marine Mammal Center, it’s all about “Rescue, Rehab, Release, Educate, Research.” There are usually dozens of animals (including California sea lions, Pacific harbor seals, and more) being cared for, and most are visitors from the visitor yard. The visitor yard also features interactive displays, marine mammal artifacts, and a gift shop. Admission is free, though donations are gratefully accepted.
Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary
29322 Modjeska Canyon, Silverado, CA 92676
There is much to do at the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary. Families can explore nature trails, wildlife observation areas, and seasonal creeks. The Sanctuary is also a popular birding site. The Mission of the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary is to “support science and environmental education and to act as a sanctuary for the preservation of the local native habitat and wildlife.” With short trails and a family-friendly nature center offering hands-on, interactive activities, kids will find lots to keep them engaged.
Marine Mammal Care Center
3601 S. Gaffey St. #8, San Pedro, CA 90731
The Marine Mammal Care Center (MMCC) was established in 1992 and serves to rescue and rehabilitate injured and ill sea animals found along Los Angeles County’s coast. Their goal is to treat and release sea animals including sea lions, harbor seals, and elephant seals. Additionally, the center seeks to inform the public about conservation and environmental issues. Visitors are welcome every day of the year during daylight hours, and volunteers are happy to answer questions. Check the website for details about tours. Admission to the MMCC is free, but there is a suggested donation.
Related: Things to do in San Pedro with Kids
STAR Eco Station
10101 Jefferson Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232
The STAR Eco Station is the place to bring kids who are interested in animals and their role in making sure these animals are safe. Partly a science museum and partly an exotic wildlife rescue facility, the STAR Eco Station is a special place. Here you’ll find animals that you won’t find anywhere else. Families will participate in hands-on ecology lessons and be able to observe a variety of birds, reptiles, and mammals. Public tours are generally offered each Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, beginning on the hour. The tours are 45-60 minutes in length and will introduce families to more than 200 hundred different rescued wildlife.
Animal Tracks Inc.
10234 Escondido Can Rd., Agua Dulce, CA 91390
At Animal Tracks families are provided with “up close animal encounters” with animals that “can’t be returned to their natural habitats.” Animal Tracks is home to a variety of mammals, birds, reptiles, arachnids, insects, and amphibians. Currently, all tours are virtual and offer families the opportunity to spend about 10-15 minutes with an animal of their choice. A $50 donation is recommended for each virtual meeting. Details are available online.
Wendy Kennar is a mother, writer, and former teacher who has lived her entire life in the same Los Angeles zip code. You can read more from Wendy at her website WendyKennar.com where she writes about books, boys, and bodies (living with an invisible disability).
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