Meet Missouri’s Wildest Critters


Article Tags:

Great Outdoors , Outdoor Adventure , outdoors , family activities , Family Fun , Zoos
Lions & Eagles & Elk, Oh My
Author: Scott McCullough

Kids love to go outdoors and experience new adventures. They can spend hours chasing the family dog around the yard or hunting for pollywogs or learning about nature. But, how often do kids have the opportunity to see wild animals? Missouri brings the world’s animal kingdom to life.

The naturalists at World Bird Sanctuary, 25 minutes southwest of St. Louis, introduce visitors to live eagles, owls, hawks, vultures, parrots, falcons, reptiles and other species and provide fun and valuable info about the vital role those creatures have on our planet. In addition to tours, special themed events are scheduled throughout the year.

There’s nothing quite like being super close to amazing animals. Located 15 minutes northwest of Cape Girardeau, Lazy L Safari Park provides opportunities to do just that ... get close. Rather than placing animals behind bars, Lazy L allows its many residents to roam free, so your experience puts you right in the middle of the action. Feed pygmy goats; watch the playful babies; observe the graceful antelope; visit more than 50 species of exotic animals in the main barn, petting zoo and park grounds. Curious kids love the reptile aquarium and the emu-egg incubator.

For a truly amazing animal adventure, take a self-guided driving tour and discover Missouri’s wild elk population. Watching – and hearing – wild elk is an awe-inspiring experience you can enjoy right here in Missouri. Read all about it in this VisitMO article: Discover Missouri’s Wild Elk.

This idea is nothing new: go to the zoological garden ... that’s official speak for zoo. Fascinating things are happening at Missouri’s three major zoos.

  • The world-renowned Saint Louis Zoo is home to more than 18,000 exotic animals; many of which are rare and endangered. General admission is free; there are fees for some attractions. Sign up for spring and summer Hands-On Programs, where all ages and abilities learn through experience, involvement and discovery.
  • The Kansas City Zoo boasts some of the best penguin, polar bear and chimp exhibits in America. Throughout the day, Zoo Keeper Chats & Shows give you the opportunity to learn about the animals, such as where they live in the wild, their diet, whether they are endangered, et cetera. It is more of a personal look at the animals that call the Kansas City Zoo home.
  • Animals from around the globe reside at Dickerson Park Zoo, a not-to-be-missed Springfield attraction. See hundreds of animals from a variety of habitats, including Africa, Australia and South America. Be sure to visit the river otters, whose delightful antics leave a smile on every face.

Here is a great outing you can find only in Missouri: Warm Springs Ranch, home of the world famous Budweiser Clydesdales. Not really wild animals, but very worthy of mentioning. March thru October, tours take you behind the scenes, up close and personal with these magnificent horses. The facility, located 10 miles east of Boonville, has more than 70 Clydesdales, ranging from foals to stallions. (Tours by reservation only – space is limited.)

Like cats—really big cats? Visit the National Tiger Sanctuary, 15 miles north of Branson. Tours are given four times a day, Wednesday thru Sunday. Get a close look at tigers, lions, a black leopard and mountain lions. You can even feed the big cats yourself.

On a tamer side, Promised Land Zoo, 45-minutes southwest of Branson, features a 100-acre drive-thru park, a free-flight parakeet paradise, bottle feeding of baby animals and a petting zoo. This is a perfect side trip from the hustle and bustle of Branson.

In northwest Missouri, 16 miles southwest of Brookfield, you’ll find sights that will take your breath away. Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge, covering 10,795 acres, affords you the chance to see more than 241 species of land and water birds, including thousands of ducks and geese. It is one of the best places in Missouri to observe bald eagles year-round. In addition to birds, white-tailed deer are abundant, as well as foxes, squirrels, raccoons, coyotes, beaver, muskrats, opossums, rabbits and river otters.

Put winter behind you and, as we say ... Enjoy the show. Share your comments and photos on our PictureMO Flickr page.

  World Bird Sanctuary
This wildlife encounter, situated on 305 acres, offers self-guided displays of live eagles, owls, hawks, ...

  Lazy L Safari Park
Lazy L Safari Park is a walk-thru zoo featuring animals from Alligators to Zebras. Perched on the banks ...

  The Saint Louis Zoo
This world renowned, 90-acre zoo is home to more than 14,000 exotic animals; many are rare and endangered. At ...

  Kansas City Zoo
It's always a new adventure at the Kansas City Zoo. The Kansas City Zoo is one of the top zoos in the ...

  Dickerson Park Zoo
Dickerson Park Zoo’s 55 acres are home to hundreds of animals, representing habitats in Africa, ...

  Warm Springs Ranch - Home of the Budweiser Clydesdales
This is the 300-acre Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale breeding facility, home to more than 100 Clydesdales. ...

  National Tiger Sanctuary
National Tiger Sanctuary is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to environmental education and caring ...

  Promised Land Zoo - Eagle Rock
Home to hundreds of rare and endangered animals from around the world. Our four-mile drive-thru and ...

  Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Established in 1937, Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge covers 10,795 acres two miles south of Sumner, ...