With 18 acres of blooming gardens and natural North Carolina wetlands, the Sylvan Heights Bird Park provides a home for more than 2,000 ducks, geese, and exotic egg layers. As they stroll along the trails and waterfront, guests can observe birds hailing from almost every continent, such as peacocks, flamingos, and toucans. In addition to the walk-through aviaries, the park aims to educate and entertain visitors with interactive children’s programs, tours, and activities such as scavenger hunts. Among its many attractions are the Bird’s Nest Treehouse and Beaver Pond Blind, both of which highlight the importance of wetland conservation, as well as the Landing Zone, where visitors can feed the birds with a seed stick.
The clucks of more than 250 chickens harmonize with the braying of goats and the snorts of pigs, composing a pastoral symphony that resounds across 30 acres of lush, sustainable farmland. Lofty woods outline the acreage as the leaves of pumpkins, squash, and flowers dapple the pastures. Brier Creek Family Farm's resident staff patrols these scenic grounds, carefully tending to the ever-changing flocks of livestock that have included sheep, rabbits, cattle, and ducks.
The team bestows its passion for agriculture upon budding farmhands during camps, teaching pupils to intermingle with the animals, till an organic garden, and communicate through subtle pitchfork motions. The farmers further enlighten visitors at an onsite store brimming with eggs, seeds, crafts, and antiques.
Some 233 lemurs have traveled from the island of Madagascar to call the Duke Lemur Center in Durham home. Here, at one of the world?s largest sanctuaries for rare and endangered prosimian primates, they find protection and able tennis partners in their caretakers. The Lemur Center looks to promote research and understanding of these interesting creatures?ancient relatives of monkeys, apes, and humans?while further sustaining global biodiversity.
Not ones to keep these creatures all to themselves, the scientists at the Duke Lemur Center offer an array of tours that let visitors get up close. During Lemurs Live!, a knowledgeable guide introduces them to about 10 different species and explains what makes them some of the most interesting animals on the planet.
Within 93,000 square feet, the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores manages to fit all of the state's and most of the world's main aquatic environments into five galleries. A 30-foot waterfall throws a cool mist over guests as they begin a journey that brings them to the Piedmont gallery, where the aquarium's three spunky river otters?Neuse, Pungo, and Eno?frolic and play poker underwater. Further exhibits promise other memorable encounters, such as the Dinosaur Adventure where visitors come face-to-face with the lifelike extinct creatures, and the Tidal Touch Pool where handlers let visitors touch skates, rays, and select invertebrates. At the epicenter lies the ocean gallery, anchored by a 306,000-gallon tank with a 65-foot viewing window. Sand tiger sharks and moray eels swim about the Living Shipwreck exhibit, a replica of a German U-boat that sank off the United States' East Coast in 1942. Behind the glass of another tank, a young loggerhead sea turtle named Nimbus flashes its gold-toothed smile and rare white coloration.
Divers host live shows twice a day in the ocean tank, answering visitors' questions via special equipment. They've also been known to assist with proposals, unveiling engagement rings as an unsuspecting fianc? peers through the glass. Beyond overseeing the standing exhibits, the staff also ventures outside for numerous educational programs and activities. Participants can catch crabs, fish in the surf, explore the marsh, take a paddleboarding class, or even explore the water on canoeing and kayaking outings.
Have you ever looked a tiger in the eye? Felt the whole-body impact of lions roaring? Watched wolves romp through the woods?
These and other exciting experiences are possible at the Conservators Center, a wildlife conservancy with a focus on education, conservation, and rescue that is home to more than 80 animals. You're guaranteed a unique and up-close view of breathtaking exotic animals.
An "oofing" at the Conservators Center is an experience you'll have to feel to believe. It's the earth-shaking sound our lion prides make when they roar to one another. Our guides call to them on every tour, and you may have the opportunity to hear them from just 5 feet away! Most of our friendly and curious lions, tigers, leopards, and wolves enjoy greeting and observing their visitors. You will be equally enchanted by our smaller species, which include binturongs, New Guinea singing dogs, lemurs, servals, and jungle cats.
Learn about our residents' individual stories, some of their unique habits, each species and its role in its ecosystem, and how we provide excellent care for our residents. Every visit from you helps support them!
See our website for more information about our tours and events, and to make advance reservations. Then come visit and awaken your wild side!
Motor skills and movement come disguised as playtime inside of Playtopia, an "edutainment" center with indoor playgrounds and other kinetic activities. Wee ones can climb rung ladders, barrel down tube slides, swing from the monkey bars, and let out energy in the bounce house. For a more relaxed activity, the glow-putt course features nine holes that glow in the dark and pit players against motorized obstacles. Playtopia also features a playground for toddlers aged 1–3, an arcade with more than 25 games, and a viewing area for parents.