Spread across 10 acres of land in California's high desert, Hesperia Zoo is home to rare and endangered species from six continents. The charming, scaled-down zoo opened in 2001, and has since become a destination for families to learn more about tigers, lemurs, and more. In fact, the zoo's visitors can get up close and personal with the zoo's animals during Feeding Frenzy tours, which occur Saturday and Sunday every week.
At The Pumpkin Factory, festive gourds bring an orange glow to the atmosphere, setting the scene for an exciting fall carnival. At three locations, kids leap into the air in inflatable bounce houses, converse with the goats at the petting zoo, and trot around on gentle ponies. In Corona, a special EuroBobble attraction lets guests play buoy, rolling atop a pool in a clear, inflatable bubble. At the Westminster Pumpkin Factory, helicopters take flight for scenic tours of the fairgrounds. At the end of the day, families can take home a pumpkin of their own to create a gruesome jack 'o' lantern doppelganger of their neighbor.
When Big Bear Alpine Zoo opened in 1959, it wasn't a zoo at all. It was a makeshift rehabilitation center for animals affected by a devastating fire that ripped through the San Bernardino National Forest. Among the facility's first residents were two bobcats and an orphaned 30-pound baby black bear.
Since then, the operation has stood as a safe haven for injured, orphaned, and imprinted wild animals. While the zoo is home to a variety of animals that cannot be released back into the wild as they would not be able to survive, most of the animals that are brought in for rehabilitation can be released. In fact, 90% of the zoo's animals get released back into the wild once they're healthy enough. Today, Big Bear Alpine Zoo is home to more than 85 species, including foxes, eagles, and yes, even bears. Weather permitting, visitors can visit the zoo's residents throughout the year except for Christmas Day. Visitors can get involved in the zoo's efforts by volunteering, becoming a member, or bringing in items from the wish list, saving the animals a trip to the grocery store.
Thousands of captive-bred exotic animals face abandonment, abuse, and neglect every year. Since readily available homes with trained caretakers are few and far between, euthanasia remains a common recourse for many of these animals. Joel and Chemaine wanted to prevent these deaths, so they founded Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary, a nonprofit organization that rescues and rehabilitates creatures with nowhere else to go. The staff members obtain?but never purchase?animals from private owners as well as facilities that are no longer capable of providing adequate care and attention. The sanctuary then supports these exotic animals for the rest of their natural lives while allowing them to behave as naturally as possible within a protected environment.
Although Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary's primary mission is to save and protect at-risk creatures, educating the public is also a major goal. When staff members lead guided tours throughout the grounds, they not only teach guests about the sanctuary's exotic reptiles, birds, and big cats, but also explain the importance of preserving these species for future generations. Over the course of a visit, groups may have the opportunity to see everything from an African lion and a Canadian lynx to an Egyptian cobra and an Eclectus parrot. Most of the animals are protected in private enclosures, although, under the supervision of the guides, some tour groups may get the opportunity to examine select reptiles and non-exotic creatures.
While the rest of the natural world prepares to hibernate for the winter, Enchanted Country Trees & Pumpkins has been at its most active since 1983. Farmers pick the plumpest pumpkins from their patches, displaying them next to bounce houses and trundling John Deere tractors. Barnyard animals deign to be petted in exchange for palmfuls of feed, and ponies accept small riders for afternoon trots. Come winter, the lots fill with Christmas trees.
Ziddle and Zaddle the zebras, a alpaca named Cletus, and a Bengal tiger that eats from a zookeeper's hand all sound like characters from a charming children's book?but these animals are the real-life residents of the Rancho Las Lomas Wildlife Foundation. Home to animals from around the world and myriad plant species, the zoo serves as a educational resource for locals and educational establishments. Visitors can take behind-the-scenes tours or explore the grounds for themselves, chatting with macaws, watching the servals play, and staring at a white Bengal tiger until they can see the 3D picture in her stripes.