SoCal's wonderful weather makes an ideal location for some of the largest animal sanctuaries in the nation. Many opportunites to get up close to both wild and companion animals are within Santa Clarita. Others listed as "Outside Santa Clarita" are within about an hour's drive. (Use our MAP IT! feature for driving time and directions.)
Please note that while many of these rescues and sanctuaries do not charge an admission, most are run by volunteers with very little funding--if any. They all appreciate your donations, and many seek volunteers to love and work with the animals. Also, many are located at personal residences, so please call ahead as requested.
Please visit our
Calendar of Events
for specific tour and 'up close' opportunities.
IN THE SANTA CLARITA VALLEY
Gibbon Conservation Center
19100 Esguerra, Saugus
Technically an ape, these animals are smaller than a chimpanzee and do not have tails. The forty gibbons at the Gibbon Conservation Center live as families in outdoor enclosures on the 2.5-acre site located across the street from Lombardi Ranch on Bouquet Canyon. The gibbons will entertain you with their beautifully pitched voices and acrobatic antics. Call ahead and join a scheduled tour, or reserve a private tour. Tours are also open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays. The center is always looking for volunteers, age 18 and over. Admission is tax deductible. Check their website Tourspage for upcoming tours.
Farm Animal Rescue
The Gentle Barn
15825 Sierra Hwy, Canyon Country
This animal rescue shelter opens its doors to the public Sundays from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm. Teaching kindness and compassion to animals, you'll have an opportunity to not only interact with the pigs, but to brush the horses, hug the cows, hold the chickens, hang out with a turkey, and pet the goats and sheep.
William S. Hart Park
Museum Information: 661-254-4584
Park Information: 661-259-0855
24151 San Fernando Road, Newhall
Several bison roam the hillside near the William S. Hart Museum, donated by Disney in 1962. Park the car in the lot and walk up the drive toward the mansion. They can be difficult to spot; look for the chain link fence 'feeding area' to your right just before you reach the mansion. They are usually there every day between 6:30-noon, and then again at 4:00 pm for feeding. If it is blazing hot, they may be resting in the shade at the bottom of the hill near the Senior Center, or drinking from their watering trough. Or they could be roaming anywhere on the hillside around the mansion. Free. While there, stop in for a tour of the mansion, offered Wednesday--Sunday, hours vary. Free.
William S. Hart Park
24151 San Fernando Road, Newhall
Chickens, horses and other barnyard animals await your visit at the small zoo in William S. Hart Park, just to the right of the Big Hall. Admission is free. Open daily 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Snakes & Tarantulas
Placerita Nature Center
19152 Placerita Canyon Road, Newhall
Get up close and personal with some of the scariest insects and reptiles from our area. Saturdays at 1:00 PM the Placerita Nature Center staff bring out these creatures to give you an opportunity to touch them. The Nature Center is open Tuesday - Sunday, closed on Mondays, 9-5. Free.
Birds of Prey Presentation
Vasquez Rocks Natural Area
10700 W. Escondido Canyon Road, Agua Dulce
On the first Sunday of every
month, the rangers at Vasquez Rocks bring folks closer to the magnificent birds in our area. Check the link above at our
Calendar of Events
for exact times, but do note that programs are cancelled due to inclement weather. (It can be beautiful here in the Santa Clarita Valley and quite nasty at Vasquez Rocks, and vice versa, so call the park to confirm the presentation.)
Green Landscape Nursery
These brightly colored parrots can sometimes be heard throughout Green Landscape Nursery. It's located at the corner of San Fernando Road & Cinema Drive. Head past the main building into the shaded area on your right, toward the giant steel cages. But watch your fingers! Note: At any given time, there are about a dozen Morning Dove nests and 30 or more hummingbirds scattered throughout the nursery--including the very beautiful Costa. The cheerful staff is more than happy to point you in the direction of the living creatures on the property. This is also one of the very best sources for quality plants and expert info on what will grow in your yard here in the SCV.
Animal Safe Haven Foundation
661-268-1879, Agua Dulce
Horses, livestock, cats and dogs reside in this sanctuary for senior animals who's owners can no longer care for them. Visitors are welcome Saturday and Sunday by appointment. Location will be provided upon calling.
Rivendale Animal Sanctuary
661-268-1133, Agua Dulce
The passion of this sanctuary is to save ponies, horses and donkeys. They also have rescued other abused animals. All of the animals here are not suitable for adoption. The public is welcome to visit by appointment. Location will be provided when you call.
Exotic Animal Encounters
Hollywood Animals Exotic Animal Training School
Located in Santa Clarita
Get up close to animal actors during a one day seminar, or ride an elephant during a private animal encounter. Location will be disclosed after making reservation.
GREAT ANIMAL ENCOUNTERS BEYOND THE SANTA CLARITA VALLEY
America's Teaching Zoo
Open to the public on Saturdays & Sundays from 11:00 am - 5:00 pm. Wildlife education shows and carnivore feeding demonstration at regularly scheduled times, free with admission.
Feline Conservation Center
The Feline Conservation Center, also known as "The Cat House," is just 40 minutes outside of Santa Clarita in Rosamond. Not only are kids always welcome and the admission nominal, but there are special events such as Twilight Tours and Kids Day! And they are always in need of volunteers.
6867 Soledad Canyon Road, Acton
Shambala Preserve, an 80-acre wildlife habitat, is a haven for endangered and exotic big cats. African lions, Siberian and Bengal tigers, leopards, servals, mountain lions, bobcats, a lynx, a Florida panther, a snow leopard, and a cheetah all reside at this sanctuary--the only one like it in the United States. Open periodically for public tours to visitors 18 and over.
It's true; Michael Jackson's Bengal Tigers, Thriller and Sabu, are now at Shambala. Unfortunately, they didn't come with any funds to care for them over the next 13 years of their life expectancy. You can help by visiting Shambala on a regularly scheduled tour or adopting one of the animals.
Steckel Park Aviary
8080 Mistletoe Road, Santa Paula
Off Highway 150
Refurbished in 2013, this aviary is open to the public and a long-time favorite of locals. Some of the species you'll view: peacock, cockatoo, cockatiels, parakeets, parrots, peafowl, pigeons, doves, geese. Shaded picnic areas, updated bathrooms.
400 Main St, Newport Beach
Amazing fun for the whole family, and at an unbeatable price! Don't miss this rare opportunity for the experience of a lifetime--which you'll make a family tradition. Visit our
for your discount from Newport Landing for your passport to great family fun!
Updated May 31, 2012