If you have an affinity for everything completely precious covered in fur, scales, or feathers, the Tar Heel State is the place to be. North Carolina is full of animal encounters at zoos, sanctuaries and wildlife centers that are devoted to the conservation and education of every creature you could imagine. Here are seven of the best spots from every corner of the state that are heavenly for animal lovers.
Carolina Raptor Center
Address: 6000 Sample Road, Huntersville, NC 28078
Why You Need To Go: If you ever wanted to live out your Harry Potter dreams and hold your own Hedwig, you can do just that at this research center. Owls are just one of the several fascinating birds that live here.
Price: $16 (additional $2 discount with college IDs)
Address: 676 E Hughes Mill Road, Burlington, NC 27217
Why You Need To Go: You can actually "adopt" an animal here, coming back weekly to visit with gifts and help with feeding sessions.
Apple Hills Farms
Address: 400 Apple Hill Road, Banner Elk, NC 28604
Why You Need To Go: You can cuddle up to this farm's most famous resident, the alpaca, while touring the grounds of this bustling mountain farm.
Sylvan Heights Bird Park
Address: 500 Sylvan Heights Park Way, Scotland Neck, NC 27874
Why You Need To Go: You might be used to birds soaring above you, but the birds that call this place home will actually land all over you.
Duke's Lemur Center
Address: 3705 Erwin Road, Durham, NC 27705
Why You Need To Go: This sanctuary is in the business of protecting the world's more endangered mammal on Earth. You can even book a special tour to watch a lemur painting party (yes, you read that correctly).
Address: 4400 Cook Rd, Rockwell, NC 28138
Why You Need To Go: You can get an up-close and personal look at endangered species from nearly every continent in the world as they undergo rehabilitation.
Aloha Safari Zoo
Address: 159 Mini Lane, Cameron, NC 28326
Why You Need To Go: This super interactive animal haven puts you face-to-face with giraffes, livestock, and more, most of which you can give snacks to.