12 places to ethically visit animals in BC this summer (PHOTOS)

Mar 3 2022, 9:55 pm

It’s a stressful time to be alive, and we could all use some animal therapy.

Hanging out with animals has been scientifically proven to make humans feel better, so don’t make fun of it. Animal therapy is real! 

Still, going to a zoo might just leave you feeling more depressed, and there are always ethical questions involved when visiting animals in captivity. 

If you want to make some clawed, scaled, and winged friends (from a safe distance) this summer, book ahead of time. Demand is high, and many sanctuaries are expecting to hit their capacity limits quickly.

These spots in BC will definitely leave you feeling a little better, though, and hopefully with some amazing pictures to remember them by. 

Urban Safari Rescue Society

Find over 350 exotic animals at this incredible rescue! If you like reptiles, this is the place to be. Visits are by appointment only, so book online or by phone sooner rather than later to save your spot.

Address: 1395 176th Street, Surrey
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The Happy Herd Farm Sanctuary

This sanctuary is for animals that were previously abused or at risk of abuse, including happy cows, goats, donkeys, and more potential pals. They make for a funny-looking herd all together, but an absolutely adorable one, without a doubt. Use their website to read their rules, learn more about what they do, and book a tour.

Address: 1920 269a Street, Aldergrove
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BC Wildlife Park


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Cougars, skunks, and foxes — oh my! This park for orphaned and injured wildlife has so many critters in it that guests will be hard-pressed to see them all in just one trip. Their Instagram shows close-ups of eagles, turtles, toads, wolves, porcupines, and more. There are lots of predators there, attracting only the bravest animal lovers.

Address: 9077 Dallas Drive, Kamloops
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The Wildlife Refuge on Grouse Mountain


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Two very famous grizzly bears named Grinder and Coola live here, but lesser-known is the aviary full of birds of prey. Rangers give presentations every day, so check out when they’re speaking to see the animals closer and learn something neat about them at the same time.

Address: 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver
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George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary


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Anyone who grew up in the Fraser Valley probably went here on a field trip as a kid, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring. A walk through this sanctuary promises close encounters with geese, ducks, chickadees, finches, and much more, depending on what time of year you go. 

Be careful not to get too close to mother geese with their babies; they will hiss and bite at you. Other than that, everyone’s super nice, and chickadees will land in your hands if you put birdseed in them.

Address: 5191 Robertson Road, Delta
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North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre

Birds and bears coexist happily at this location in Errington. The organization cares for ill, injured, and orphaned wildlife and educates the public about them. They host some rare and exciting animals that receive high-quality care.

Address: 1240 Leffler Road, Errington
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Nimmo Bay 


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This is more of a guided wildlife observation trip than a sanctuary, but it’s a great chance to see animals in BC without harming them. Deep in the Great Bear Rainforest, Nimmo Bay is home to black and grizzly bears, drawn there by the salmon runs. Expert guides “certified by the sustainably-minded Commercial Bear Viewing Association” will take you where you need to go to see them safely.

Address: 100 Little Nimmo Bay, Mackenzie Sound, Mount Waddington A
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Spirit Bear Lodge


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Indigenous-owned, this resort offers “exclusive access to wildlife viewing areas and cultural sites within the Kitasoo Xai’xais traditional territory,” as it says on its website. When you go, it will change what you see, of course, but there will always be rainforest and marine animals to connect with. That’s one great thing about beautiful BC, but this spring and summer, you can likely expect to see Stellar Sea Lions, birds, and fish.

Address: 300 Spirit Bear Drive, Klemtu
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Adventure Tofino Wildlife Tours


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The whales deserve love too. They’re super smart, relatively friendly to humans, and gorgeous, and this company offers tours that do their best to avoid disrupting them. They also book bear tours, so if whales aren’t your style, you can stay on land and still see wildlife in Tofino.

Address: 421 Main Street, Tofino
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Visit the farm animals on the Homestead

Treat yourself to an adult-style trip to the petting zoo — or bring the family, if you please — through this Airbnb experience. Based in Shawnigan Lake, the farm is home to huge, adorable wild boars, chickens, horses, dogs, and more. Guests get a 45-minute tour of the horse barn, wild boar piggery, chicken and guinea fowl coops, and the duck pond before meeting Budley the donkey. It comes with homemade baked goods and hot drinks, to boot!

Address: Maple Heart Ranch Homestead, Shawnigan Lake – Book to access
Airbnb only

Rescue Horse Therapy with Hobby Farm

There are a few ways you can go when you visit Hobby Farm, and they’re open to whatever feels best for you during your visit. Care for the horses, unwinding while you feed and brush them, or have s’mores over the fire, weather permitting. Not to be missed: The Nigerian Dwarf Goats, Thumper and Piper.

Address: Horse Haven, Maple Ridge – Book to access
Airbnb only



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Last but certainly not least, SAINTS, an organization that cares for senior animals that are otherwise deemed “unadoptable.” Many of their animals are special needs and could use a good cuddle themselves, so come prepared to be kind, gentle, and respectful.

Address: 33860 Dlugosh Avenue, Mission
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Donating to all of these organizations is heavily encouraged. They rely on generous patronage to keep doing what they do, and many deal with a constant influx of new animals to pay for and thus, new bills to pay.

Always read the guidelines and requirements for visitors before attending, since every place has different animals’ needs and sensitivities to consider.

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