Header image courtesy of @kadoorie_farm_botanic_garden (via Instagram)
From four-legged beasts to winged wonders to creepy crawlers, Hong Kong is home to a rich and diverse population of animals—which comes as no surprise, given the city’s great swathes of pristine wilderness. But even if venturing into uncharted woodlands and traipsing aimlessly through leafy shrubs are not on your ideal itinerary, there are still plenty of places where you can get up-close and personal with some fascinating animals. Covering all the grounds of furry, feathered, and scaled creatures, here is our round-up of the best petting zoos and animal encounters in Hong Kong!
You don’t have to make multiple excursions across the city to experience spectacular off-the-beaten-path attractions—enjoy them all in this 30-acre farm nestled in Yuen Long. A day at Tai Tong Organic EcoPark could see you picking strawberries, firing up a barbecue, feeding goats, rabbits, and pigs, and even riding a horse! Boasting the largest private stable in Hong Kong, the park provides not only kid-friendly pony rides but also horseback riding classes and training for those keen on picking up a new outdoor hobby. And if you need a break from all the activity, just head over to the tranquil lotus pond sitting in the innermost section of the park. Accented with serene fountains and swaying palm trees, it’s the perfect spot to relax and unwind to the soothing sounds of flowing water.
Tai Tong Organic EcoPark, 11 Tai Tong Shan Road, Yuen Long | (+852) 2470 2201
Is there anything more therapeutic than petting a fluffy, doe-eyed animal? Since the addition of four alpacas from Australia last year, this pineapple-themed farm in Yuen Long has become a buzzing hotspot for animal lovers, who come from all corners of the city to meet, feed, and take photos with the furry, long-necked creatures. While alpacas are clearly the star attraction here, the farm also features a number of rabbits and goats. After a smile-inducing petting session with the adorable animals, visitors can proceed to explore the fragrant pineapple fields, tuck into some tasty pineapple treats, sow a seed, or join one of the site’s many DIY workshops!
Go Green Organic Farm, Sze Pai Shek, Kam Tin, Yuen Long | (+852) 5579 2178
Grab your binoculars and get birding! Now that autumn is in full swing and migratory birds are making their annual trek south, it’s high time to take in some extraordinary avian spectacles—and there’s no better place for close-range bird watching than Mai Po Nature Reserve! Located in the northwestern corner of the New Territories where wetlands and marshes dominate the landscape, this 1,500-hectare nature reserve is a sanctuary for tens of thousands of feathered creatures, including the iconic Black-faced Spoonbill, Saunders’s gull, and Nordmann’s greenshank. Join a guided eco-guide and learn all about local biodiversity as you marvel at winged beauties swirling around majestically in the sky. Just make sure to book your visit in advance as walk-ins are not permitted!
Mai Po Nature Reserve, Tam Kon Chau Road, San Tin, Yuen Long | (+852) 2526 1011
No time to journey far out of the city? Even in the middle of bustling Central, you can get your fix of creature comforts—and no, we’re not talking about the wild boars that occasionally wander into the urban streets scavenging for food. First opened to the public in 1871, the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens is the oldest park in Hong Kong and continues to be a welcoming spot for metropolitans looking for an urban oasis. Take a stroll around the verdant grounds and you’ll encounter anything from flamingos and parrots to orangutans and lemurs! There’s also a reptile enclosure where you can gawk at gentle tortoises!
Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens, Albany Road, Central | (+852) 2530 0154
Invite snakes, rabbits, hedgehogs, and tarantulas to your next bash! Founded by wildlife biologist and educator “Goatee” Toni, Jurassic Garage brings unique animal encounters to you! Catering for a variety of events including children’s parties, school fairs, and corporate functions, this mobile zoo delights guests with hands-on experience with exotic animals all the while educating them on the friendly critters featured. From reptiles to bugs to safari animals, there are numerous themes you can choose from to accommodate your specific preferences. Whether you have an affinity for the cute and fluffy or the creepy-crawly, rest assured that all the animals here are non-aggressive and used to people, so you can feel free to pet, take photos, and love on them!
Set on the picturesque hillsides of Tai Mo Shan amid lush greenery and dense woodlands, Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden is much loved for its beautiful natural scenery and abundance of flora and fauna. In this treasure trove of a farm, you can come face-to-face with an extraordinary variety of birds, reptiles, and farm animals, but highlights are definitely the Da Hua Bai pigs (大花白豬) and Duffi the mule, which can only be visited via the guided Mule Talk tour. In addition to meeting fascinating animals, there are also many remarkable heritage sites, nature-related workshops, plant exhibits, and walking trails to keep the whole crew entertained!
Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, Lam Kam Road, Tai Po | (+852) 2488 6702
Birds, butterflies, and amphibians are expected inhabitants of this slice of marshy land tucked away in the northern corner of Tin Shui Wai, but did you know that you can also encounter a saltwater crocodile here? That's right—the crown jewel of this 61-hectare wetland park is the none other than the famous Pui Pui, a crocodile that was scooped up from a nearby river in 2003 and welcomed into the park in 2006. Visitors can admire the magnificent reptile in all its glory through the 72-square-metre outdoor glass enclosure. Dedicated to nature conservation and education, the park also offers an exciting array of themed exhibitions, regular workshops and guided tours!
Hong Kong Wetland Park, Wetland Park Road, Tin Shui Wai | (+852) 3152 2666