As human beings we just seem compelled to get as close as possible to our fellow animals, no matter what. For those bored with common kitten cuddling and want a more exotic experience in extreme animal interaction, these options are available:
1. Swim with the Sharks, Golden Nugget Hotel – Las Vegas, NV
In Las Vegas, you can now live out your childhood fear of discovering a shark in your swimming pool. At one popular hotel, there is a 200,000 gallon glass tank flush against its luxury guest pool. In this human-size goldfish bowl swims an assortment of sharks and stingrays, presumably trying to get the cocktail waitress’ attention.
2. Zipline Over Alligators, Gatorland – Orlando, Florida
If you just can’t seem to get enough alligator taunting in with your extreme lifestyle, then Florida is probably calling your name. There at Gatorland, you can zipline over (or near to over) giant alligators just like your ancient ancestors never did. The best of extreme animal interactions are always ones that make no sense in nature.
3. Spy on Bobcats at The No-Petting Zoo – Tucson, Arizona
In Tucson, Arizona, you can visit Bill and Susan Birky’s Home (associated with University of Arizona’s Department of Ecology) and not-frolic with bobcats, coyote and a dozen species of “Arthropods of Note”. Contained in their expansive backyard, visitors can see a mini ecosystem at work. The adventure seems to center around resisting your tourist nature and not touching all the cute (but dangerous) critters just because you can.
4. Scratch a Cockroach’s Stomach at The Bug Bowl in West Lafayette, Indiana
Trying to pet furry mammals is one thing, but at Purdue University’s Bug Bowl, you can pet the cutest worms and cockroaches ever. Bugs love to have humans rub their exoskeletons with the added benefit of some much needed human/bug bonding time. Extreme bug-petters may be disappointed, as there are no aggressive spiders or deadly scorpions. For that, you will have to settle for your own living room.
5. Pet a Hippo at Okinawa & Wonder Museum – Okinawa, Japan
Of all the dangerous animals in the world people just can’t help but want to pet, hippos would seem to be low on the list. And with good cause, hippos are one of the most dangerous animals in Africa (and still no Hungry, Hungry Hippos movie). At the Okinawa Zoo and Wonder Museum, however, you can actually go ahead pet a full grown hippopotamus. What is the worst that can happen?
6. Feed a Lion at the Paradise Wildlife Park – London, England
Just North of London, England, at the Paradise Wildlife Park, you can feed a lion with your bare hands. There is a large, thick fence between you and the fierce felines, but you can still sense the great cat smelling your warm blood as it takes the giant kitty biscuit from your sweet sweaty hands. Not to worry, the lions of England are taught etiquette from a young age.
If you are looking for your own animal adventure you might consider helicopter tours and view wildlife from a safe distance.