Best Exotic Animal Encounters in Virginia


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Boy pets a sloth at SeaQuest Aquarium in Lynchburg, Virginia

Looking for a unique activity that includes meeting some exotic animals? There are a number of unforgettable experiences to have in Virginia and each can give an up close and personal experience with nature! Here’s a quick list that showcases some of the best locations in Virginia where you can interact directly with exotic animals!  It’s an excellent way for family and friends to spend the day together and create a memory all of you will cherish.

Dive In! SeaQuest Lynchburg

Looking for an incredible, interactive, and affordable animal experience in central Virginia? SeaQuest Lynchburg is a perfect choice! Boasting over 20,000 square feet of fun-packed adventures, SeaQuest Lynchburg is one of the few places in the state that offers hands-on encounters where visitors get to touch, feel, and feed animals from a variety of ecosystems found throughout the world. 

During your quest, you’ll journey through the Amazon, Caribbean, Egyptian Desert, and Mayan Jungle as you interact with sharks, snakes, turtles, and lizards. 

Exotic Animal Encounters at SeaQuest Lynchburg:

  • Asian Otter Interaction: Meet Chip and Dale! During your time to feed the otters, you’ll get an educational overview of the otter species and habitat, then participate in an informational Q&A on how you can help save the otters in the wild!
  • Capybara Fun: Hang out with a few of the most chill “Capys” around, Poppy and Oliver! Hand-feed the capybaras some of their favorite foods and learn all about the fascinating Capybara species. They love to take selfies, so don’t miss out!  They are the most photogenic Capybaras in Virginia!
  • Prehensile-tailed Porcupine Interaction: Have you ever wondered what a porcupine actually feels like? Look no further – Meet Quilliam, the porcupine here at SeaQuest, and learn about their unique species while hand-feeding them their favorite snacks!
  • Sloth Interaction: Hang out with Flash the Sloth while learning all about this beautiful creature. You get to feed, pet, and touch the sloth in this once-in-a-lifetime experience! Be sure to bring your camera for a selfie during your hand-feeding session.


Buy One Get One Free at SeaQuest


Backbay National Wildlife Refuge: Virginia Beach, VA

Backbay National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to take the family bird watching and see some amazing exotic birds. The Wildlife Refuge is a haven for migratory birds along the Atlantic Flyway. Pack a lunch, grab your binoculars, and spend the day looking for Canadian geese, American bald eagles, tundra swan, hawks, the endangered piping plover, and dozens of other species. There are also a number of foot trails to go for a hike, or if you feel like a water adventure, there’s a guided kayak tour to get an even closer look at the magnificent flying feathered friends. 

Creation Kingdom: Gate City, VA

Creation Kingdom Zoo is ranked as one of the Tri-Cities area’s top attractions. You’ll experience a world of fun adventures here with a variety of animals from around the planet. There are giraffes, bears, leopards, camels, zebra, and many species of primates. The zoo also strives to educate guests and the public on wildlife conservation. Staff will explain about the animals, how they care for them, and how we can help with preserving them for future generations. There are a number of special events throughout the year and a really fantastic gift shop to take home some animal souvenirs. 

Virginia Safari Park: Natural Bridge, VA

Virginia Safari Park is a drive-thru safari park on 180 acres in the foothills of the Blueridge Mountains. There is a diverse array of wildlife, and the park is home to over 1000 animals! You’ll be able to see and feed Giraffes, White Rhinos, African Penguins, Zebras, Bengal Tigers, and more. Guests can only view Africa’s rarest cat, the King Cheetah, at the Virginia Safari Park. They’re located just 2 hours east of Richmond and about 2 hours North of Greensboro, NC.

Nova Wild: Vienna, VA

Situated on 30 acres, NOVA Wild (formerly Roers Zoofari) showcases a vast array of exotic animals, including lemurs, cheetahs, wallabies, Asian water buffalo, and other unique animals. You’ll start your journey on a drive-thru safari adventure where you and your family can see and feed a wide variety of animals. Once you park, you can tour through several exhibits and see butterflies, exotic birds, and much more.! It is a great place to take the whole family for a fun-filled safari adventure day!

When it comes to exotic animal encounters in the Virginia Commonwealth, these are just a few of our favorite picks! From the coast to the Shenandoah Valley, a variety of aquarium and zoo locations will surely bring the adventure of a lifetime for your family! For the BEST animal interactions in the state, check out the SeaQuest Lynchburg website. Book your special exotic animal encounter today!  

~Kristy Lussier

Colorful Parrot eats some seeds

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