HAVE YOU ever seen a bison up close? Watched otters frolic? Watched a hawk hunt? Heard the shrill cry of a peacock? Held a stare-off with an owl? Been splashed by a dolphin? Been nuzzled by a sheep? Petted a mule?
It’s easy to walk on the wild side in Charleston. No, we’re not talking about the nightlife but the many ways to observe, and even touch in some instances, a veritable ark-full of animals.
Charles Towne Landing
A few weeks ago, 450-pounds of Memphis swagger arrived in Charleston and settled comfortably into a two-acre natural habitat enclave Charles Towne Landing state park. Memphis, a black bear, is the newest resident of the sprawling salt marsh forest-adapted zoo that is home to a variety of animals indigenous to South Carolina. What makes this habitat unique is its use of mixed-species exhibits, which enable visitors to observe animals living together and interacting as they would in the wild.
Want to see the wild turkey, white-tailed deer, bison, bobcats and wolves for yourself?
Charles Towne Landing is open daily from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
South Carolina Aquarium
Madagascar sounds exotic, doesn’t it? To the inhabitants of that African island country situated in the Indian Ocean, the name McClellanville—the fishing hamlet north of Charleston—likely sounds foreign. With more than 9,000 miles and diverse culture separating the two places, they could not seem further apart. Yet, you can explore aspects of both for a limited time at the South Carolina Aquarium, where four visiting ring-tailed lemurs have joined the indigenous permanent residents, including a loggerhead turtle, flounder and stingrays.
Want to experience the touch tank and Sea Turtle Hospital for yourself?
The Center for Birds of Prey
At Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the owls—like Harry Potter’s Hedwig—deliver mail twice a day. At the Center for Birds of Prey, a one-of-a-kind avian conservatory, the owls, hawks, falcons and eagles are the star of the show. While they don’t deliver mail or do “tricks,” the flight demonstrations are an awe-inspiring sight with the birds’ precision moves and soaring wingspans casting long shadows across the grounds of this tranquil place.
Want to see these majestic birds in person?
Guided tours and flight demonstrations are offered year-round on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Center for Birds of Prey.