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Winter Wildlife Viewing

Spend Time with the Animals - Local Zoos & Habitats

Gibbon Center Santa Clarita
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.


Newport Beach Whales
Newport Landing Whale Watching
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 Special Offers page for your discount from Newport Landing for your passport to great family fun!



Newhall Aquarium
24631 Arch Street, Newhall
A non-profit organization providing hands-on learning experience, touch tanks, and daily activities. Suitable for small children. Limited hours.

Barnyard Zoo

William S. Hart Park
24151 San Fernando Road, Newhall
Chickens, horses, pigs and other barnyard animals (over 50!) await your visit at the barnyard zoo in William S. Hart Park. Admission is free. Open daily 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (close early on holidays). The best time to visit the barnyard is between 12:30-2:00 for afternoon feeding. The geese form a procession from the duck pond back to their enclosures for their meal. Pellets are available to purchase in a dispenser next to the chicken coop. (Bring your quarters!) Is it the bison you want to see? Come in the morning between 9-10:00 right after they've been fed.


William S. Hart Park
24151 San Fernando Road, Newhall
Museum Information: 661-254-4584
Park Information: 661-259-0855

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. MAP IT!

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.


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.

Horse Sanctuaries

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.


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.

Snakes, Tarantulas & Local Wildlife

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 Interpretive Center's grand opening was February 2015 and features animal enclosures, an observation deck with two telescopes to observe nearby wildlife, a classroom, gift shop, and patio. It is open Tuesday - Sunday, closed on Mondays, 9-5. Free.


America's Teaching Zoo

Moorpark College
805-378-1441, Moorpark
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.

Big Cats

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.

Shambala Preserve
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 Tiger, Sabu, resides at Shambala. Unfortunately, Jackson didn't provide any funds to care for him or his sister, Thriller. Following Jackson's death in 2011, his "Thriller" jacket was auctioned off for $1.8 million; the proceeds going to Shambala. You, too, can help by visiting Shambala on a regularly scheduled tour or adopting one of the animals. In June 2012 Thriller succumbed to lung cancer. More on the story
Kids too young for Shambala? Then head to the Wildlife Learning Center in Sylmar, just ten minutes from Santa Clarita!


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. MAP IT!

Farm Animals

Farm Sanctuary Animal Acres
661-269-5404, Acton
Closed December thru March due to unpredictable weather. Guided tours are held 11am, 1pm, and 3pm. Arrive 15 minutes prior to your tour. Reservations are not required, but to visit with the animals you do need to join a guided tour. MAP IT!

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.

Whale Watching

Newport Beach Whales
Newport Landing
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 Special Offer for your discount from Newport Landing for your passport to great family fun!


Wildlife Learning Center
16027 Yarnell Street, Sylmar
Just 10 minutes from Santa Clarita! Interact with Rescued Wildlife with a Biologist! Hold An Owl! Pet a Fennec Fox! Meet Lola the Sloth! Pet a Prairie Dog! Feed a Porcupine! Enter our cat enclosure and meet Boomer, the Siberian lynx! And much, much more!! Opportunity of a lifetime for the animal lover in your family!

Updated November 24, 2014
Endorsed by
County of Los Angeles SCV Chamber of Commerce California Travel and Tourism Commission
In association with
City of Santa Clarita SCV Tourism Bureau
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