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 return of the California Condor in Big Sur. North America’s largest land bird by wingspan (9.5 feet), the California Condor was saved from extinction by a captive-breeding program and releases back into the wild. Join Ventana Wildlife Society on a two-hour tour of the central coast in search of these critically-endangered birds. Ventana Wildlife Society began releasing condors in the region in 1997, and now manages a wild population of just under 100 birds. With their expertise and radio tracking gear, you will be in the best position to witness this iconic species, and other local wildlife. Although these are wild birds, and sightings are not guaranteed, you might be lucky enough to find condors feeding on a marine mammal carcass, or hear the wind through their wings as they glide by at close range. These are some of the greatest experiences in nature, and it happens right here in Monterey County. Tours are $75 per person and include transportation from Andrew Molera State Park and a knowledgeable guide. Check the Ventana Wildlife Society website for reservations and a schedule of departures. 

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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