Five zoo adventures to set your sights on
Want to see your favorite animal outside the zoo?
Here are the best places to track down some of the world’s most exciting beasts.
Lemurs in Madagascar
The world’s fourth-largest island of Madagascar has unique and exotic flora and flora that has evolved since it became isolated more than 160 million years ago, and its most iconic species is the lemur. There are more than 30 kinds of this cute primate living on the island. Stay at Vakona Lodge and you can go on expeditions into the local rainforests to find nocturnal and daytime lemurs including the Indri Indri, Diadem Sifaka and mouse lemur. The Lodge also has a private reserve on an island which is home to black and white ruffed lemurs and eastern lesser bamboo lemurs which have been rescued from captivity. www.aardvarksafaris.com
Kangaroos in Australia
Want to spot a kangaroo bouncing in the wild? The best place to find them is Kangaroo Island, South Australia, a short flight from the city of Adelaide. The island broke free from the mainland 10,000 years ago and there’s even a unique sub-species of kangaroo here as well as the regular ‘roos. A third of this island is preserved as national conservation park, and it’s a bit like a zoo without enclosures, with many of the country’s native creatures roaming free including wallabies, koalas and spiny short-beaked echidnas. You’ll also find whales, dolphins, penguins and seals along its 500km of shimmering coastline. www.southaustralia.com
Leopards in South Africa
For the best sightings of leopards languishing in the trees, the best place is Sabi Sand, the oldest private reserve in South Africa and home to a huge wealth of Africa’s most exciting animals, including lions, cheetahs, giraffes and, of course, leopards. It’s also the setting for some of the country’s most glamorous lodges. Their expert trackers will take you by 4×4 to hunt down leopards to shoot – with your camera, of course. For a honeymoon splash out on a stay at a lodge in the Singita Sabi Sands concession, where you can recover in plush surroundings after getting up at 5am to look for leopards.
Orangutans in Borneo
Love a flaming redhead? Then you probably love orangutans. You can find them in the wild and in rehabilitation centres in the Malaysian island of Borneo. The best place to track them down is by following one of the trails in the Danum Valley Conservation Area or by boat along the Kinabatangan River at the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary in Sabah, where you’ll also see crocodiles, proboscis monkeys and elephants. The rusty beasts also roam free at the rehabilitation centre in Kubah National Park in Sarawak, and you can join a ranger on a jungle tour to visit them.
Pandas in China
Remember those adorable pandas you saw on the news when they were relocated after the huge earthquake in Sichuan province in 2008? All 18 of them have just returned to eat their bodyweight in bamboo at the Wolong Nature Reserve, 100km from Chengdu city, where they live in large, newly-rebuilt enclosures. You can hold panda babies and spend a couple of days volunteering to look after them there or at Bifengxia Panda Reserve where the Wolong pandas stayed after the quake. It’s only two-hours’ drive from Chengdu, and visitors can see adult and baby pandas in an enclosure as well as explore the reserve’s stunning landscape.