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 Raleigh 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.
The seasoned tour guides at the Conservators’ Center in Burlington, North Carolina have had their fair share of animal adventures. It is these that help them provide guests with once-in-a-lifetime experiences with exotic wildlife, with more than 30 lions, tigers, and leopards.
Tours bring customers unique experiences, such as eye-to-eye experiences with tigers, and an "oofing", the Center's description for the earth-shaking lion's roar when they call to one another. On every tour, guides will "oof" to the lions, who often respond. Visitors will also get to observe wolves romping through the woods, and the discovery of lesser-known species such as servals and binturongs.
Being true to their mission of wildlife education, conservation, and rescue, the nonprofit Conservators' Center houses animal residents who were in need of a new home. They all live comfortable lives in this haven for wild animals.
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.
Cold Blooded Encounters fills guests' days with a variety of science-related exhibits, interactive presentations, and games. The newly-opened Science Center schools visitors on topics from fossils and gemstones to fun kitchen chemistry and turtle races. At the Reptile Zoo meanwhile, an affable red-footed tortoise named Confucius and a gentle black rat snake named Oreo greet visitors. Secluded and multispecies habitats house more than 150 species of amphibians, fish, reptiles, and invertebrates, including fire salamanders, jewel cichlids, Kenyan sand boas, and whip scorpions.
Annual memberships grant gift-shop discounts, guest passes, and a family photo posed with an animal. Cold Blooded Encounters also reaches out to school groups from preschools to colleges with effusive educational programs and sends ambassadors to birthday parties, where children can help feed turtles or pose for photos with 8-foot snakes.
Anytime from 1 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, December 4 or Sunday, December 5, families can embark on 25-minute hayrides through the woods and pastures of Harris Farm. As you travel over the scenic Reedy Creek, gorge your eyes on area wildlife and cute farm animals as you chat with Santa himself about wish lists, cheerful holiday memories of yore, and the universal appeal of Seinfeld -themed stocking stuffers. Bring home some seasonal spirit by getting your photo snapped with St. Nick (an additional $5) or picking out the perfect evergreen from the farm's Christmas-tree lot.