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Discover Wildlife and Zoos in Northern California

Be amazed by exotic creatures from across the planet at world-class aquariums and zoos. Northern California’s most famous animal attraction is the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium. Plan to spend a whole day at this unparalleled aquarium, which houses an immense collection of undersea creatures and marine mammals. Meet sea otters, sharks, penguins, and glow-in-the-dark jellyfish.

In San Francisco, the California Academy of Sciences features a living four-story rainforest and colorful coral reefs filled with tropical animals. Feed penguins and see an albino alligator named Claude. Find tigers, giraffes, and elephants nearby at the San Francisco Zoo and the Oakland Zoo. Looking for an African safari-style experience? Head to Safari West in Sonoma County to encounter an incredible number of zebras, rhinos, and wildebeests.

Smaller zoos in Northern California offer a more intimate experience. Check out family-friendly parks like the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, the Monarch Grove Butterfly Sanctuary (Pacific Grove), and the Great Valley Serpentarium (Lodi). Unleash your wild side in California.

Fresno Chaffee Zoo

Opened in 1929, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo is a premier attraction the Central Valley of California. Originally known as Roeding Park Zoo, this park yields chances to see bears, cats, hoof stock and birds. Nosey the elephant joined in the bunch in 1949, after being named by local school children.

The "Monkey Island" habitat was the first major exhibit, followed by habitats for the camel, sea lion, sun bear, giraffe, hippo, flamingos, apes, rhinoceros and crocodiles. Visit Fresno soon and see all you can at this exceptional zoo.

Many animal exhibits have been added throughout the years. The zoo is excited to be constructing a new exhibit: Sea Lion Cove. It will feature a large underwater viewing area and presentations. Enjoy your time learning about the animals and consider attending one of the zoo's onsite educational programs.

Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary

Near downtown Arcata, the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary is ideal for an easy outdoor getaway. Part of Humboldt County's innovative waste water management program the wetlands are a wildlife refuge and are on the Pacific Flyway bird migration route. It's a premier outdoor destination in the North Coast Redwoods.

With nearly five miles of trails, the Arcata Marsh is a popular destination for hiking, biking, jogging and bird watching. Saturday morning tours are staffed by the Redwood Region Audubon Society. Enjoy a sterling day of hikes, bike rides, bird watching, and fishing on your next visit to Arcata.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Have an aquatic adventure the next time you visit California. The Monterey Bay Aquarium, located on Cannery Row along the Central California Coast is one of the premier aquarium and marine life exhibits in the USA. Visitor highlights include an indoor ocean – a million gallon showcase of ocean-life, and the Splash Zone – especially designed to provide kids a fun and interactive learning experience.

Drive in from nearby Monterey or Pacific Grove and spend a day marveling at life under the sea or check out your favorite exhibits in a few hours time. Peak season for visitors are during summer, on weekends and holidays. Facilities include the Portola Restaurant and Café, storage lockers and a gift and bookstore.

Monarch Grove Butterfly Sanctuary

Free to the public, the Monarch Grove Sanctuary is located in the city of Pacific Grove near Monterey on the central California coast. Best visited from October to February, the sanctuary is a eucalyptus grove and habitat for migrating Monarch butterflies.

Part of Butterfly Town, USA heritage, the Monarch Grove Butterfly Sanctuary was established by the City of Pacific Grove – and acts as a temporary home for over 25,000 butterflies each year. Human visitors to the sanctuary may look, photograph, and discuss, yet keep in mind there is a $1,000 fine for touching.

Great Valley Serpentarium

Check out a Hissing Cockroach at the Serpentarium – A Living Reptile Museum. You can even get your picture with one – or at least the kids! Lodi's Serpentarium has an outstanding collection of live reptiles and invertebrates – visitors learn the difference between lizards and snakes first hand.

Enjoy seeing and handling Tarantula's, Scorpions, Turtles and of course a large Burmese Python. Don't forget your camera there are photo opps aplenty here – this is a visit you will not forget. North of Stockton on Highway 99, take the Harney lane exit in Lodi to get to the Serpentarium. It's a premier family destination in the Sacramento area.