Oh Canada! You’ve got animal magnetism from coast to coast with more than 194 species of mammals, 426 species of birds, 42 types of reptiles, 1,100 fish, and 18,530 insects , not to mentions arachnids and crustaceans (yum, lobster!).
Plan your travels on the wild side and head to where the critters live. Whale watch on the west coast or the east. Catch a photo of bald eagles in flight in British Columbia or the Annapolis Valley region in Nova Scotia.
The more exotic animals may take a bit of time and money to reach. Ever seen a narwhal (monodon monoceros, also known as the "unicorn of the sea")? You’ll have to head to the Arctic Ocean.
The good news is once you find some of these animals you can have a meaningful relationship with them.
Beluga whales that swim in Hudson Bay near Churchill, Manitoba in August don’t mind when snorkellers join them in the water. They’re curious about what the heck you’re doing there and will twist their heads around to check you out. (Only beluga whales have the ability to move their necks.)
But don’t try this with polar bears in the summer. They’re hungry and a bit cranky since they haven’t had a good feast on seals since the winter. For something that mixes excitement and safety, check out the various zoo and museum programs where you snooze in close proximity to wild beasts for a thrill of a lifetime.
Either way, you don't have to travel across the world to get close to where the wild things are.
10 Amazing Spots To See Canada's Wildlife
After the public has left the Vancouver Aquarium, families can stick around and get some up-close-and-personal time with the critters. Then bed down for the night right <a href="http://www.vanaqua.org/experience/activities/sleepovers/family-themed" target="_blank">next to the underwater gallery for beluga whales</a> -- in what's the closest thing to an Arctic Canada sleepover. While you doze off in your sleeping bag, you can see these white mammals glide like ghosts in your dreams.
Meet Luna (L) and Fang (R), two furry wolves that make the <a href="http://www.haliburtonforest.com/activities/wolves" target="_blank">Haliburton Forest Wolf Center</a> in Haliburton, Ont. their home. They roam in an outdoor enclose spread over six hectares. An elevated observatory gives you a great view of these shy creatures and the occasional, super cute pack of pups.
Grin And Bear It
If you’re not into trekking long distances to see wildlife, do it the lazy way. At <a href="http://www.tweedsmuirparklodge.com/" target="_blank">Tweedsmuir Park Lodge in Bella Coola, B.C.</a>, spot grizzly bears from the bubbling warm waters of a hot tub, as it’s not uncommon to see bear roaming around the property. A safer place to see them would be from a drift boat floating down the Atnarko River during the late summer and fall. But there's no need to put hotdogs in your pockets since the bears come to feast on salmon.
Sure, you could spend a bundle to go on an African safari, but if you spend $108 a person, you can get the same adrenaline rush from close brushes with wildlife at the Toronto Zoo. Spend the night at its <a href="http://www.torontozoo.com/EducationAndCamps/CampsandPublicPrograms.asp?pg=69" target="_blank">Serengeti Bush Camp</a> in a tent. Guests get unprecedented access to the elephants and cheetahs. Factor in the flashes of white stripes of zebras at night and you'll remember this is exotic stuff!
Here’s a switch: At <a href="http://www.churchillwild.com/adventures/nanuk-polar-bear-lodge/" target="_blank">Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge</a>, 250 km southeast of Churchill, Manitoba, the guests are surrounded by a high-fence and locked in, while the polar bears roam outside. It’s not unusual to see the bears in late August eating grass and berries while they wait for the Hudson Bay to freeze – a sign that a seal meal is in store.
Africa may have its mass wildebeest migration, but Nunavik, <a href="http://www.bonjourquebec.com/qc-en/nunavik0.html" target="_blank">the most northern locality of Quebec</a>, has something equally as impressive. Hundreds of thousands of caribou trot across the wilderness to their calving grounds. Then saunter back to the Arctic tundra again. These beautiful beasts are best seen from July to late fall.
Cute and cuddling they are not, but you can’t ignore the red-sided garter snakes once they emerge from their winter dens each May near Manitoba’s Interlake region. Tens of thousands then slither their way back to their winter homes in the fall. At one point, so many snakes were crossing Highway 17 that<a href="http://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/wildlife/mbsp/fs/rsgarter.html" target="_blank"> local conservatory groups, businesses and organizations</a> built tunnels so they could safely migrate without becoming road kill.
Mad To The Bone
These creatures may have been dead for a few millennia, but at least they are quiet. All the better for a good night’s sleep in a tent at the <a href="http://www.tyrrellmuseum.com/programs/encana_badlands_science_camp.htm" target="_blank">EnCana Badlands Science Camp</a>, located in the midst of the Royal Tyrrell Museum, one of the world’s greatest sources of prehistoric dinosaur fossils.
Seals Of Approval
Cuteness alert: Each year in late February and early March, vanilla-coloured baby harp seal pups fatten up on mom’s milk on the ice surrounding the<a href="http://www.tourismeilesdelamadeleine.com/en/discover-the-islands/unique-features-of-the-region/fauna/" target="_blank"> Iles de la Madeleine</a>. Seal-watching excursions put you close enough to take a great selfie for your Facebook page. You’ll look hot in the prerequisite thermal-orange jumpsuit and the seals will adorable with those big black eyes.
Moose On The Loose
St. Anthony, Newfoundland, might be a picturesque, sleepy small town on the northern tip of the province, but it’s hopping with moose. In fact, this is where you’ll find the<a href="http://www.town.stanthony.nf.ca/moose.php" target="_blank"> highest concentration of moose in the world</a>. Just cruise along the highways and you’ll see them pokes their snouts out of the woods. Drive carefully though, they make hazardous speed bumps!
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