If you want to see marvelous wildlife, you’re certainly in luck when you visit one of these top 10 places in Georgia! From zoos and aquariums to watching wildlife in their natural habitats, Georgia has it all. The various habitats throughout the state allow more than 470 animal species to make their homes. From hiking through the woods to taking a swamp boat tour to lounging on the beach, Georgia has a wildlife-watching fix for all kinds of animal lovers. Let’s explore the top 10 best places to see wildlife in Georgia below!
#1 Okefenokee Swamp Park
This 438,000 acres of wetland sits right on the Georgia-Florida line offering swamp boat tours, train rides, and more! Here you’ll see American alligators, sandhill cranes, river otters, and maybe even a black bear. The Okefenokee Swamp Park has many exhibits along with a nature show that gets you up close and personal with some of Georgia’s native wildlife.
#2 Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
A massive 402,000-acre nature reserve in Georgia, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge manages the Swamp Park along with several other protected land parcels. Visit the Chesser Island Homestead or the Owl’s Roost Tower to see the swamp and prairies from a bird’s eye view. This area includes more than 620 plant species and more than 400 animal species. Raccoons, foxes, deer, and wild boar are commonly sighted.
#3 Wassaw Island National Wildlife Refuge
The breathtaking Waasaw Island holds the promise of viewing wildlife in Georgia. Especially exciting is the chance to see Atlantic loggerhead sea turtles when they come to nest in the protected area each spring. Not only that but more than 250 bird species breed along the beaches on the island. American oystercatchers, osprey, and pine warblers are among the birds that live on the island year-round.
#4 Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge
With plenty of fishing, hiking, and biking available, Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge offers a multitude of wildlife to see in Georgia. If you watch the water closely, you might see bottlenose dolphins playing! Other species in this area include alligators, bald eagles, and painted buntings.
#5 Pine Mountain: Wildlife and Adventure in Georgia
Pine Mountain ranks high on Georgia visitors’ lists as both a great place to view wildlife and an adventure-seeker’s paradise. From the Wild Animal Safari to Dino Village Amusement Park and the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, there’s something for everyone among the attractions at Pine Mountain!
#6 Zoo Atlanta: Georgia’s Highly Rated Wildlife Experience
At the forefront of conservation efforts, Zoo Atlanta regularly wins awards for its leadership and excellence in preserving our world’s living creatures. The zoo constantly makes news headlines and boasts an outstanding 4.5-star rating with more than 19,500 reviews. Zoo Atlanta is a cannot-miss stop for anyone with hopes to observe wildlife when they visit Georgia. You will see clouded leopards, orangutans, native and non-native snakes, as well as a multitude of distinctive birds at the zoo. To top it all off, Zoo Atlanta even has Malayan sun bears on exhibit!
#7 Georgia Aquarium: Wildlife of the Sea
The Georgia Aquarium provides visitors with surprising opportunities to see ocean-dwelling wildlife up close! From tiger sharks and manta rays to endangered whale sharks, the aquarium gives you the chance to see some incredible aquatic creatures from around the world. In fact, the aquarium touts a whopping 177 different species!
#8 Georgia Sea Turtle Center
Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island is the only sea turtle education and rehabilitation facility in the state. The wildlife visitors see here are native inhabitants of Georgia’s coastal waters. They offer behind-the-scenes tours to staff-only parts of the center, such as the turtle hospital. The guided tour allows visitors to meet hospital patients and hear their stories. Georgia Sea Turtle Center has treated more than 1,500 sick animals since its beginning in 2007. Other than loggerhead sea turtles, the center rescues green, leatherback, Kemp’s ridley, and hawksbill sea turtles.
#9 Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary: Rescuing Wildlife in Georgia
Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary is a non-profit organization that rescues and rehabilitates both wildlife and farm animals in Georgia. After opening in 1978, the sanctuary has cared for more than 1,500 animals over the years. Their resident animals as of 2023 include a handful of Bengal tigers, a lioness, several black bears, and many monkeys and lemurs. The sanctuary offers visitation either by private tour or during their open house dates. The sanctuary even rescued more than 180 Chihuahua dogs from a hoarding situation in 2020 and found most of them forever homes! The remaining few with special needs live at the sanctuary.
#10 Georgia Mountain Falconry
Last, but certainly not least, Georgia Mountain Falconry offers one of the most unique wildlife experiences in the state. Get an up-close encounter with an astounding raptor (bird of prey) and learn about their hunting techniques. Then, get out in the woods and watch one of these incredible birds do what they do best: hunt. The falconry even apprentices people who would like to learn how to hunt with a falcon or hawk. Some species the falconry works with include great horned owls, barn owls, Harris hawks, and Siberian goshawks. Each of these awe-inspiring birds is trained to hunt and bring prey back to its human partner!
Summary of the 10 Best Places to See Wildlife in Georgia
Whether you’re looking to see wildlife from around the world or those species native to Georgia, the state has plenty of opportunities to see both! From zoos and aquariums to national parks and specialized rescue and animal training centers, Georgians welcome wildlife with open arms.
|Notable Wildlife to Observe
|Okefenokee Swamp Park
|Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
|Wassaw Island National Wildlife Refuge
|Sea turtles, ospreys
|Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge
|Malayan sun bears, orangutans
|Tiger sharks, whale sharks
|Georgia Sea Turtle Center
|5 Sea Turtle Species
|Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary
|Lions, tigers, bears
|Georgia Mountain Falconry
|Owls, hawks, falcons
The photo featured at the top of this post is © anjahennern/Shutterstock.com
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