The Victoria Bug Zoo boasts a bountiful collection of live and robust multi-pedied insects, housing everything from warm and fuzzy tarantulas to the cold-hearted giant centipedes that wander the Sonoran Desert. Your Groupon is good for an annual pass to the insectorium, where you can freely roam the colony of more than 40 species of ’sects, bypassing the glow-in-the-dark scorpions to make a bumble-bee-line to the 400-leg millipede or the enormous ant farm. While bugs are kept safely in glass-enclosed insectariums, the friendly staff is known for hands-on education and often releases the friendlier of the bugs to mingle and wander up and down the arms of brave visitors.
Years ago, Olympic Game Farm was a home for actors. The bears, cougars, and big cats who lived on the premises were all movie stars—most often for Disney Studios, which worked with and filmed the farm's animals for 28 years. The farm's founder, Lloyd Beebe, served as the go-to trainer, and his bond with the wildlife was reputedly amazing. During those early years, he even managed to tame five wolverines, who would eat raw egg out of his hands.
Today, Lloyd's grandson Robert runs the farm. For the most part, the animals are no longer film celebrities—although footage of the famous waving bears has gone viral and even appeared in a Carrie Underwood video, and some animal actors from elsewhere still retire to the farm. The majority are descendants of the original film animals, or rescues. Visitors can drive through the park to see zebras, elk, wolves, and lions, then head to the petting farm for an up-close encounter. They can even feed many of the animals—whole-grain bread is an accepted treat.
"The Reptile Man" Scott Petersen melds his passions for both education and reptiles at his zoo, which he calls the Serpentarium, where kids can touch or hold certain inhabitants. Inside, snakes, lizards, gators, and turtles slowly slither or amble around their enclosures, visible to curious eyes. Some of the deadliest snakes in the world—such as the horned viper—live on site, all de-venomized with only their angsty poetry left as weapons. The zoo is also home to invertebrates, including some of the planet's biggest spiders, centipedes, and cockroaches. An onsite party room hosts birthday bashes with a focus on education and absolutely no snakes hiding in the cake.
For more than a century, Woodland Park Zoo's 92 acres of exhibits have provided an urban oasis replete with nearly 1,100 individual animals, representing almost 300 species and 75 animal vocations, such as jaguar dentist. Ooh and ahh your way through more than a dozen exhibits representing the exotic wilds of Australia, Africa, and Bug World. Should the sight of the king of the jungle paralyze you with fear, visit the golden lion tamarin, an endangered Brazilian primate that was hunted for its fur by hopelessly misinformed gold prospectors. Debate the appropriate classification of the red panda (aka the firefox), or marvel at the soaring majesty and silly names of the Hottentot teal, bufflehead duck, and Temminick's tragopan. The diverse array of flora and fauna ensures that every art lover will uncover a masterpiece within Mother Nature's gallery.
Today's side deal gets you one-day admission to the Seattle Bug Safari on Western Avenue for $4 (an $8 value). Feel your deep-seated phobias for multi-legged exoskeletons evaporate after making the acquaintance of 54 fascinating, exotic insectoid species—from behind the safety of thick glass, of course. Check the site or call ahead before dropping in, as Seattle Bug Safari is closed to the public during Groupon-exempt field trips.