Whether you want to see a sample of Wales' abundant wildlife or a celebration of exotic animals and marine life from all over the world, the zoos and aquariums of Wales offer opportunities to learn, observe and (sometimes) get really close to our animal companions.
Welsh Mountain Zoo, Colwyn Bay
High above the coast town of Colwyn Bay, the Welsh Mountain Zoo is home to a Sumatran tiger and snow leopard, as well as chimpanzees, sea lions, penguins and birds of prey. The zoo has also been a longstanding haven for flora and fauna, featuring plants from Chile, Russia and the Himalayas.
Folly Farm, Pembrokeshire
Folly Farm is one of the most popular visitor attractions in Pembrokeshire and its zoo is sometimes overlooked. The only giraffes in Wales are the headline act, but the zoo is full of unusual animals. There are over 50 different species, including bongo, fossa, turaco, Nile lechwe and capybara. It's also home to a sloth retirement centre (yes, you read that right!).
Manor House Wildlife Park, Tenby
Set in 50 acres of Pembrokeshire countryside, Manor House Wildlife Park's attractions include red pandas, rhino, Brazilian tapir, marmoset, zebra and many more. There is plenty of picnic space, a café with locally sourced snacks and a secure Hay-Play area.
Perched on the North Wales coastline, the Rhyl SeaQuarium features the only long walk-through underwater tunnel in Wales and an outdoor sea lion cove. The seabed stroll brings visitors close to sharks and rays, while other attractions include Ocean Falls Cascade, the Sea At Night and the Lethal reef, where some of the most poisonous creatures on the planet lurk.
Anglesey Sea Zoo
Featuring over 150 marine species from shark to seahorse, the Anglesey Sea Zoo highlights the diversity of wildlife living off the coast of Wales. The zoo is also actively involved in a variety of conservation programmes, including the Dolphin Rescue Service and the Lobster Hatchery of Wales.
Pili Palas Nature World, Anglesey
The Pili Palas Nature World butterfly enclosure on the island of Anglesey is full of exotic flora and fauna, offering the opportunity for visitors to commune with a rich variety of butterflies in their colourful glory. You can also come up close and personal with snakes and lizards in a handling session. Fortunately, the tarantulas, scorpions and fire-bellied toads do not feature. A furrier range of attractions include rabbits, guinea pigs, pygmy goats and adorable kune kune pigs.
Welsh Hawking Centre
The Welsh Hawking Centre has a collection of 200 birds of prey across 20 acres of parkland in the Vale of Glamorgan, including Buzzard, Kestrel, Goshawk, Red Kite, Lanner Falcon and Savigny Eagle Owl. There is a daily flying demonstration, an adventure playground and the opportunity to see newborn chicks being nurtured at the biggest breeding centre for birds of prey in Britain.
Magic of Life Butterfly House
Located adjacent to the stunning Rheidol Valley near Aberystwyth, over 80 different species of butterfly are displayed during the year. The tropical conditions of the butterfly house are the perfect environment for rare plants to thrive in the Magic of Life Butterfly House garden.