Lions, Tigers and Bears - Oh My!

Animal Sanctuaries, Zoos and Wildlife Parks That Welcome Dogs

Posted by Billy Francis

Bring Fido to the dog park, and he might see a few squirrels. Bring him on a tour of these pet-friendly zoos, safari parks and sanctuaries, and he'll have the chance to meet lions, tigers, bears and other members of the animal kingdom.

National Tiger Sanctuary

Saddlebrooke, MO
"You're lucky there's a fence between us!" Photo by National Tiger Sanctuary

Introduce Fido to the big cats at the National Tiger Sanctuary in Saddlebrooke, MO. A featured attraction in the 2021 edition of our Ruff Guide to the United States, this nonprofit facility is home to over 40 exotic animals, including a black leopard, mountain lion, African lion, and many tigers. What sets the sanctuary apart is the stress-free environment in which the animals live, along with the love and care given to the animals for their entire lives. The 75-minute ‘Awareness Tour’ includes a brief classroom presentation and the chance to see tigers from three feet away. The ‘Feeding Tour’ highlights the different personalities of each cat and lets tour-goers tag along for the feeding. Well-behaved, leashed pets are welcome on all tours.

Only two miles from the heart of Branson, a relaxing stay awaits you at Lilleys’ Landing Resort & Marina on Lake Taneycomo. Fish from the covered dock, lounge on the poolside sundeck, play a game of horseshoes, or gather with friends and family at the outdoor pavilion overlooking the lake.

Reptile Gardens and Bear Country USA

Rapid City, SD
“You live a 'shell-tered' life.” Photo by Melissa Halliburton

If you like scales and tails, bring Fido to Reptile Gardens in Rapid City. The world’s largest reptile zoo welcomes you and your four-legged companion to explore the grounds and observe 225 species of snakes, crocodiles, frogs, lizards, tortoises, and other reptiles. Catch a glimpse of the rare Komodo dragon before visiting the menagerie of cold-blooded creatures in the famous Sky Dome. Need a break from the creepy-crawlies? Visit the park’s prairie dog exhibit, where Fido can get up close and personal with these cute critters from an underground bubble. For more animal adventures, head to nearby Bear Country USA. At this drive-thru wildlife park, you’ll see dozens of bears, wolves, sheep, and elk.

After getting acquainted with reptiles and bears, rest up at the Hart Ranch Camping Resort. Spread out across 195 acres of beautiful Black Hills countryside, leashed pups are free to explore the south side of the resort near the dog run and hiking trail.

Elmwood Park Zoo

Norristown, PA
“Why the long neck?” Photo by Facebook.com/EPZoo

Elmwood Park Zoo is home to over 100 different species (101 if you include Fido). Featured creatures include giraffes, zebras, bald and golden eagles, jaguars, and red pandas. Metropolitan Veterinary Associates has partnered with Elmwood Park Zoo to welcome dogs and their owners to meet members of the animal kingdom during Dog Days. If you plan on visiting with your pooch, fill out this online application and be ready to provide proof of vaccinations and heartworm tests. Dog Days take place on select Wednesdays and Fridays from 12 to 4 p.m.

Spend the night around the fire pit in the fenced backyard of a tiny manor in nearby Plymouth Meeting.

Wild Country Safari

Delhi, LA
"Don't mind if I do!" Photo by @joannaleebenson

Visit Wild Country Safari in Delhi, LA, for a drive-thru safari with a chance to meet 30 exotic animals including giraffes, kangaroos, wild bison, deer, zebras, antelopes, and water buffalo. You can enjoy a hands-on encounter with many of the roaming residents, including petting, feeding and even cuddling a few of them as they go about their day. When you’re finished, grab a bite to eat at the pavilion. Dogs are not allowed on guided wagon tours or in the petting zoo.

Curl up with your Corgi at this cozy cottage near the interstate.

Bearizona

Williams, AZ
"I'm here for a 'beary' good time." Photo by @roamingwithmaddie

Wind up your windows and lock the doors on a fun romp through Bearizona. These aren’t the kind of bears you want to invite for a picnic, Fido. Together, you can set off on a fascinating drive through the Arizona wilderness and say hello to the North American wildlife that resides within the park. Over half of the animals are rescued or rehabilitated, and one of Bearizona’s main goals is to promote conservation and preservation. Dogs are welcome in the drive-thru segments of the park.

Enjoy a much safer bear hug with your best friend at the popular and pet-friendly La Quinta Inn & Suites Williams Grand Canyon Area.

African Safari Wildlife Park

Port Clinton, OH
“Hello, friend!” Photo by @dottiesdoggiediary

African Safari Wildlife Park is home to a variety of exotic animals that might not play nice if you start a game of fetch. Pups should keep their paws in the vehicle at all times while they watch bison, camels, giraffes, llamas and other wild animals grazing in the Ohio backcountry on a drive-thru safari. Well-behaved dogs are also welcome to join their owners in the walk-through safari, as long as they are under control and don’t mind meeting new furry faces.

After her wild ride, park your pup at Best Western Port Clinton. The hotel is just minutes away from the park and welcomes pets for no additional fee.

Nancy Forrester's Secret Garden and Key West Aquarium

Key West, FL
"There's something fishy about this place." Photo by @dogsworldinsofl

For a different kind of wildlife encounter, bring your pooch to Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden to greet an array of exotic birds. Nancy Forrester has been rescuing and re-homing orphaned parrots for over 35 years, with many of these colorful critters taking up residence in her safe haven in Key West. You’ll marvel at the South American Macaws and other parrots during your self-guided tour, but don’t just take our word for it - ask them yourself!

While you’re in the area, make the short journey to nearby Key West Aquarium. Four-legged guests can join you at the touch tank, jellyfish exhibit and throughout the aquarium, as long as they are leashed.

For more aquatic fun, lounge together by the private pool at Sugarpoppy Cottage.

Ready for a Road Trip?

Photo by Linda Segerfeldt


The editors at BringFido have dedicated themselves to digging up the best dog-friendly things to do across the country. And we've assembled it all in our new book, Ruff Guide to the United States.

Now in its second edition, the book features over 365 of the best places to stay and play with your dog in all 50 states. Order your copy today and save 50% off the retail price when you use the discount code TIGER.

Have you visited a pet-friendly zoo, animal sanctuary or safari park? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

BringFido is committed to providing authentic dog-friendly content that our readers will love. We may at times receive compensation from our partners or use affiliate links to promote products and services featured on our blog. Banner photo by Lisa Eastman.