Best Exotic Animal Encounters in Minneapolis


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Woman and young child hold an exotic bird

Is there an animal lover in your family who dreams of meeting new and exotic creatures in person? It can be an unforgettable experience! There are a number of attractions and locations in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area that can give an up close and personal experience with animals and nature. Here’s a brief list that highlights some of the best locations to see exotic animals in Minneapolis – where you can interact directly with them! It’s an excellent way for family and friends to spend the day together and create a memory all of you will cherish!

Hemker Park and Zoo: Freeport, MN

At Hemker Park and Zoo, you will get up close and personal with some of the world’s most exotic and fascinating animals. Spend the day at Hemker Park & Zoo, where they have plenty of room to roam, both for the animals and for visitors alike! It’s a pretty family-friendly setup, making it a fun and memorable place for any day. They have Red Pandas, Giraffes, Rhinos, Kangaroos, and even a Warthog! There is something to see here for kids of all ages.

Take A Dive on the Wild Side! SeaQuest Roseville

Journey around the globe when you visit SeaQuest Roseville, the ultimate land and sea adventure! Located about 14 minutes from downtown Minneapolis, SeaQuest Roseville is home to some of Minnesota aquariums’ most unique and interactive experiences! But this aquarium showcases more than just sea creatures. Discover mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, and amphibians from around the planet! This is a hands-on adventure, as visitors get to touch, feel, and feed animals from a variety of habitats located on earth.

Check out the Amazon Rainforest, Caribbean, Mayan Jungle, and Pirate Island as you interact with sharks, snakes, turtles, and lizards during your quest. Are you a fan of kangaroos? Visit the wallabies at SeaQuest! Wallabies are the smallest in the kangaroo family and love to have visits from guests. Kids can also take a selfie with Marina the Mermaid, or meet the pirate, Captain Quest!

  • Crested Porcupine Interaction: Have you ever wondered what a porcupine actually feels like? Look no further – Meet Quilliam the porcupine here at SeaQuest, and learn all about his unique species while hand-feeding him his favorite snacks!
  • Sloth Interaction: Come meet the adorable sloth, Luca! You’ll get to feed, pet, and touch Luca in this once-in-a-lifetime experience all while learning about the sloth species and their natural habitats! Be sure to bring your camera for a selfie during your hand-feeding session.
  • Fishy Kisses: Dip your feet into a tank of fish that will gently “kiss” your toes, removing dead skin cells in the process.
  • Snorkel With Stingrays: Splash on in with Seaquest! Bring your suit and towel and jump in the water with a variety of rays, tropical fish, and non-threatening sharks for an ultimate up-close animal experience.

Buy One Get One Free at SeaQuest

Safari North Wildlife Park: Brainerd, MN

A quick trip north takes you to Safari North Wildlife Park in Brainerd. It’s a great way to spend a day with friends and family learning about some of the most unique and amazing creatures on earth! Safari Wildlife Park’s mission is to promote life-long learning by teaching guests about animal enrichment and environmental respect while helping prepare visitors for our conservation future. The park provides experiences that last a lifetime with every visit no matter how old you are! They have unique exotic animals like the Vervet Monkey, Java Macaque, Red Legged Seriema, and Caracal.

Sea Life: Mall of America

Located inside the Mall of America, Sea Life at Mall of America is an aquarium located in Bloomington, Minnesota, about ten miles south of downtown Minneapolis. It contains about 1.3 million gallons of fresh and saltwater aquarium exhibits, which house thousands of sea creatures, including sea turtles, sharks, sawfish, stingrays, jellyfish, and seahorses.  They also feature a few exotic animal encounter activities, including:

  • Ray Lagoon: Discover a variety of species and be mesmerized by the happy and smiley rays. You don’t get to swim with stingrays or feed them like the SeaQuest encounter, but it’s still a fun activity.
  • Rainforest Exhibit: Enter the mysterious world of the rainforest where unique creatures lie hidden around every turn. Or venture through the Piranha Tunnel! While you don’t get to feed or touch most of the animals as you do at SeaQuest, it’s still a neat afternoon jungle adventure.

The Wildcat Sanctuary: Sandstone, MN

The Wildcat Sanctuary, or TWS is a 501(c)3 non-profit, rescue sanctuary located in Sandstone, MN. Funded solely by private donations, the sanctuary provides a natural sanctuary to wild cats in need and inspires change to end the wildlife crisis. Combining natural and spacious habitats with a life free of the exhibition, TWS allows all resident cats to live wild at heart. Each cat has the opportunity, often for the first time in their lives, to choose a path to walk and a place to lie down. Visitors will love and appreciate seeing these majestic creatures in their natural and relaxed habitats designed for the animals the thrive and live full, healthy lives!

These are just some of our favorite picks for exotic animal encounters in the Minneapolis area! These attractions will surely bring the adventure of a lifetime for your family! For the BEST animal interactions in the state, check out the SeaQuest Roseville website. You can book your special exotic animal encounter today!

Colorful Parrot eats some seeds

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