9 Animal Encounters Near Bergen County You’ll Be Wild About

Day Trips  / 

Oh dear. It looks like you’ve had a bad day. You know what you need? Pet therapy. Maybe a gif of a baby chinchilla taking a “bath”. Or that viral video of the dog who hugs the policeman after the policeman frees him from the sheet he got tangled in. But you know what might be even better? If you could get up close and personal with some of those furry little loves that make you go, “Awwww”.

Guess what? You can. Zoos and farms in and around Bergen County have all sorts of animal encounters. So whether you’re partial to penguins, giraffes, snakes or sloths, here are Nine Animal Encounters near Bergen County that you are definitely going to want to reserve. You know, on the off chance the kitten pics don’t do the trick. 


Central Park Zoo Breakfast with the Animals: Mark your calendars for April 6th at 9:00 am (for families) or April 7th at 8:30 am (just for adults). The Central Park Zoo is hosting breakfast with the animals. After a light breakfast and either animal themed activities (families) or a convo with zookeepers (adults), you’ll head out to watch some of the animals get their own breakfasts. Reservations are required and the family event is for kids ages 3-6. Prices start at $30 for the kids event and $60 for the adult event.

Bronx Zoo Wild Encounters: Make a connection with animals like a cheetah, a penguin, a reptile or a fennec (we didn’t know about this guy, but he’s a small fox with huge ears and he is soooo cute!) among others. Encounters start at around $50 per connection and we’d advise reserving ahead of time. Discovery tours are also available. Check the website for reservations, minimum ages and disclaimers. 


Turtleback Zoo Behind the Scenes: Spend 30-45 minutes behind the scenes at the zoo learning about the animals from the inside out. This encounter will also include the chance to speak with the keepers and vets who keep the animals happy and healthy. Behind the Scenes tours include the Giraffe House, the Animal Hospital, Sea Lion Sound, and Penguins. Prices start at $42.50 and included admission to the zoo. Participants must be 6 and over. Children under 18 must be with an adult. Reservations are being taken now for March and April tours of the Giraffe House. 


Goats of Anarchy Volunteer: For those who don’t know, Goats of Anarchy (GOA) is a 501(c)3 non-profit vegan sanctuary for special needs baby goats and other animals located in Annandale, NJ. Volunteers who aren’t afraid to get their hands (and pretty much everything else) dirty, can email liz [at] goatsofanarchy [dot] com to be put on a waiting list. 


Humor Me Farm: They have alpacas and bunnies! And if you want to get a taste of what work on the farm is, make and appointment for a farm tour. Depending on the season, and for a small fee, you might be “skirting and washing fleece, carding, finishing yarn, and weaving.” Or you could be “feeding the livestock, tending various structures or helping in the gardens.” We’ll admit to not know what half of that is, but it sounds fun! 


Lakota Wolf Preserve and Howling Woods Farm Wolf Encounters: At Howling Woods Farm in Jackson, NJ you can get up close and personal with the wolves and then, after you’ve fallen in love, you can adopt one of their super cute wolfdogs so you can enjoy an animal encounter every day! Howling Woods Farm is open to visitors by appointment only. Please visit their website for contact information and a calendar of events. For ages 10+. A minimum donation of $20 per adult and $10 per child ages 10-12 is requested.

At the Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia, you’ll participate in an Educational Wolf Watch Tour where you’ll have the experience of watching and listening to packs of British Columbian, Timber and Arctic wolves. Visit the Lakota Wolf Preserve website for a schedule of tours. Appointments are required on weekdays – no reservations are taken on weekends. Cost for the tours is $15 for adults and $7 for kids under 11.


Animal Adventure Sloth Encounter: Located in Harpursville, New York (close to Binghamton), Animal Adventure states that most of their animals can be interacted with and fed by guests. Which is amazing considering that they have a TON of animals. This spring they will be offering sloth encounters! Visitors will have the chance to get face-to-face and then feed their family of two-toed sloths. The park has a tentative open date of May 1stand the cost for the sloth encounter starts at $250. Participants must be at least 6 years of age. PS – April the Giraffe is apparently pregnant so there will hopefully be a giraffe baby this spring. Squeee!


Lehigh Valley Zoo Close Encounters of the Wild Kind: These interactive private programs are scheduled with certain zoo animals and an educator or zookeeper. Most are offered year round and include a giraffe painting encounter, a sloth encounter, penguin encounter, various bird encounters, and an armadillo encounter. Encounters are available for kids 5 and over. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Prices start at $199 but some encounters are as much as $400/pp. 

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