9 Ethically Responsible Wildlife Animal Experiences to Visit on Your Next Trip

Ever wonder what it would be like to experience the encounter of animals in their natural habitats? 

Animal encounters are among the most fulfilling and unforgettable experiences to explore. It’s a wanderlust adventure whether you’re traveling solo, with a friend, or the whole family!

Don’t be confused with the unethical type experiences like going to the zoo or an aquarium where the animals are kept in captivity against their will and restricted from living in their natural environment. These are ethical experiences that involve animals enjoying life in the wild responsibly – the way it should be. 

Here are 10 ethically responsible, not-for-profit wildlife animal experiences around the world that will shift your perspective and leave you in awe with amazement. 

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9 Ethically Responsible Wildlife Animal Experiences to Visit on Your Next Trip

Image credit: AFEW Giraffe Centre

1. The AFEW Giraffe Centre, Kenya

The AFEW Giraffe Centre in Nairobi, Kenya is a non-profit conservation and educational program that was started in 1979 to protect what would have been the last remaining Rothschild Giraffes in the country. What started out as 80 surviving individuals, turned into over 600 and rising, with the center’s hard work and tireless efforts to keep these individuals from going extinct. Visitors can hand-feed these majestic animals and maybe even snag a long tongue smooch. 

To add to the experience, you can book a stay at the all-inclusive Giraffe Manor next door where guests can dine and lounge in the comfort of their own room – many times with the giraffes poking their heads through the windows to sneak a peek and greet you – A wanderlust experience that will last a lifetime. Giraffe Manor is associated with the Giraffe Center and supports the AFEW program by donating $10 per guest stay. 

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Image credit: Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

2. Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage, Kenya

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi is an ethically responsible place where rescued orphaned baby elephants come to live and receive care after losing their mothers to ignorant human activity or natural causes. The elephants are cared for until they are able to reintegrate them back into the wild. 

At this wildlife animal experience, visitors will get to meet the babies and learn about their care and the rehabilitation process. Although the sanctuary is open to the public, limited human interaction with the elephants is essential for a successful reintegration. 

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Image credit: Elephant Nature Park

3. Elephant Nature Park, Thailand

Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai is a project that provides ethically responsible sanctuary and rehabilitation for distressed elephants who have been rescued throughout Thailand as well as cats, dogs, buffalo and other species. 

Visitors will learn about ethical wildlife animal experiences and the full scope of the park’s projects including how they are working on rain forest restoration. Guests can also enjoy watching these humble giants bathe and play as well as feed them. Depending on the tour package you choose, you can also enjoy a forest walk with them and lots more.  

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Image credit: Reef HQ 

4. Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium and Education Centre, Australia

Opened since 1987, the Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium is the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium making it home to the Great Barrier Reef on land for visitors to experience. 

The idea was not only to make the majestic beauty easily accessible to the public but to become a place where visitors can learn about reef conservation to help protect and support the ocean’s Great Barrier Reef. 

Visitors can also visit the Turtle Hospital on-site where sick and injured sea turtles are treated and rehabilitated. The hospital promotes the C.A.R.E philosophy (Conserve. Act. Rehabilitate. Educate.) and works to raise awareness through education to inspire change.  

Currently, the aquarium is under complete renovation and will reopen in 2023. Plenty of time to plan your next trip! 

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Image credit: Elephant Conservation and Care Center

5. Elephant Conservation and Care Center, India

The Elephant Conservation and Care Center is home to over 20 rescued elephants that came from severe distress. The center works to rehabilitate and provide these wildlife animals with an environment that comes close to their natural habitat. They will no longer be forced or coerced to perform or bear heavy loads nor will they ever have to walk on hot pavements again. Instead, they can finally live the rest of their lives surrounded by love, open lush green fields, natural vegetation, a nutritious diet and plenty of play time in elephant water pools as well as take dips in the river that borders the property.

If you’re planning a trip to India, this is one stop you’ll want to add to your trip.

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Image credit: Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary

6. Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary, Thailand

Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary is highly regarded for their ethical treatment of its wildlife animals. It’s an ethically responsible family owned sanctuary with a passion for creating a safe haven for these majestic beauties. They rescue and protect elephants throughout Thailand from further being abused and becoming extinct. They also allow the elephants to live in their natural environment as they relearn how to naturally forage, swim, socialize and play. 

The sanctuary is open to visitors but keeps the numbers low for the well-being of the elephants as well as that of their guests. 

BLES partners with a local guest house to offer accommodation nearby. The fee includes an unforgettable wildlife animal experience, meals and transportation to and from the airport and guesthouse. If you opt for other accommodations, you can find local stays here

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Image credit: Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

7. Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Uganda

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is home to southern white rhinos in Nakasongola where they breed these threatened animals to keep them from going extinct before releasing them back into the protected ecosystem. The sanctuary began with six of the eight rhinos left in Uganda at the time and are now up to over 30 individuals. 

Ziwa offers unforgettable guest experiences when visiting the sanctuary with overnight stays that includes a morning canoe safari as well as a night walking safari. Visitors will have the opportunity to observe these amazing animals in their natural habitats while learning about this threatened species and gaining valuable knowledge. 

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Image credit: Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary

8. Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary, South Africa

The Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary protects and rescues mostly lions, but also tigers and leopards, from captivity, exploitation, entertainment and abusive environments all over the world. Currently there are over 100 animals living at the sanctuary. 

Travelers can visit for a day trip as well as book a stay at their lodge on-site. These big cats are a sight to see and an ethically responsible wildlife animal experience that will last a lifetime. 

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Image credit: Chengdu Research Base

9. Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, China

Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is located just 6 miles from the center of Sichuan where they work to rescue, breed and protect giant pandas from becoming extinct as well as provide public education and educational tourism. The sanctuary also rescues red pandas and other endangered wildlife animals in the China region. 

These majestic animals live in an ethical environment that mimics their natural habitat. They call it, “the natural paradise of national treasures and our Xanadu” – making it one of the best sanctuaries in the world to visit. Visitors can observe these beautiful beings as they rest, eat, drink and play with one another. You can also witness the female pandas as they nurse their cubs in the sanctuary nursery rooms. How awesome is that?! 

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Is there an ethical animal sanctuary you’ve visited you would like to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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