Exotic Animal Adventures

Everyone knows Monterey County for its fuzzy sea otters and majestic Monarch butterflies but there are some lesser known species that call this area home. Condors, bats, bears and elephants can also be found roaming this diverse terrain, however; some of these not-so-cuddly creatures are not so easy to find. Lucky for you we have rounded up a few adventures to give you the extra edge at catching a glimpse of these beautiful and rare creatures.

Coastal Condors

Check out the comeback of the California condor at Ventana Wildlife Society's condor base camp. With a wingspan of nearly 10 feet, North America's largest land bird and one of the largest flying birds in the world is truly a magnificent sight to see. On the endangered species list since 1967, the California condor now thrives on Big Sur's rugged coastline. A two-hour guided hike is available at the base camp and is led by a wildlife biologist using specialized equipment to monitor nesting, feeding and flying habits. Extreme enthusiasts can even book the California Condor Sanctuary tour where the Executive Director of the Ventana Wildlife Society guides visitors to a remote location in the Big Sur wilderness for a hopeful peak of these monumental birds. 

Bat Crazy

Seeking a rendezvous with a Townsend's Big Ear Bat while roaming 23 million-year-old volcanic rock formations? Hightail it to the Pinnacles National Park. This is ground zero for ranger-led bat walks, "experiential" night hikes and eyeing 20+ condors who reside on this lunar-scape. The National Park sports two "talus" caves - a system of passages snaking under and between house-size boulders - offering a natural habitat for bats. Visitors can strike out solo to the Balconies Cave and Bear Gulch Cave, housing some 14 species of bats including the Townsend's Big Ear bat and Western Mastiff bat, with a wing span of 12 inches. Opened in 1908, the monument is a true character builder for hikers, climbers and nature lovers.

Lions and Tigers and Bears...

"Monkeying around" is redefined at the Monterey Zoo, an exotic animal training facility housing 100+ animals on 51 acres of Monterey County. Centrally located off the scenic Monterey/Salinas Hwy.68, this exotic animal facility offers daily public tours or deluxe private tours ranging from two-hours to a seven-hour Walk with the Animals program. Sign up for a stint washing an African elephant; take the ultimate catwalk with an exotic cat or one of the many other unusual animals. Fun, exciting, educational and safe, Wild Things truly is a one of a kind facility found no-where else in the U.S. today. Guests can even overnight in a safari-style suite on a remote savanna, with breakfast delivered by an elephant.

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