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Myrtle Beach is a great place to see wildlife, and we’re not talking about the spring break crowd at Senor Frogs. Several Grand Strand attractions provide visitors the opportunity to connect with nature by getting up close and personal with wild animals from all walks of life, whether they are native to the depths of the ocean, the heights of the sky and the terra firma in between.
Children always get a kick out of watching animals play, and the interaction even seems to bring out the kid in the adults. For a great family outing and an educational experience that feels more like fun than learning, check out the top five places to see wild animals in Myrtle Beach:
* Alligator Adventure: Barefoot Landing is literally crawling with crocs and gators, but fortunately for visitors they are confined behind the walls of Alligator Adventure. Featuring a wide array of reptiles, including snakes, turtles and rare lizards, as well as a limited number of mammals, such as lemurs and bobcats. But alligators and crocodiles are the main attraction, and visitors can watch as the prehistoric beasts feast at feeding time and catch some rays on the banks of the lake. Single admission is good for two days at Alligator Adventure.
* Brookgreen Gardens: Although this botanical sculpture garden is more famous for its beautiful plant life and artwork, Brookgreen Gardens also is home to the Lowcountry Zoo, a small but unique collection of critters native to the South Carolina coast. See alligators, otters and rare birds of prey in the open-air aviary. There's also a petting area for farm animals like goats and miniature horses and a Butterfly House filled with the fluttering creatures from all over the world. Guests might also spot some wild animals on the property, such as deer and waterfowl.
* Ripley's Aquarium: Myrtle Beach's most popular attraction features a fish from the far corners of the four oceans. More than 1.5 million gallons of water are pumped through the tanks of this underwater zoo, which includes various species of sharks, barracudas, piranhas and more. Visitors can pet the stingrays, pick up the horseshoe crabs and take part in other activities that allow them to have a hands-on experience with the aquatic world. Ride the moving walkway and get up close and personal with enormous sharks that pose with their pearly whites.
* T.I.G.E.R.S. Preservation Station: This refuge for big cats of the wild has lions, tigers and even the rare "liger," a hybrid version of the two that grows to enormous sizes. Guests also can side a wide variety of animals on the property, including chimps, elephants and gators. Providing animals and training for major movies, T.I.G.E.R.S. is also one of the few breeding centers dedicated to the preservation of several species, so often there’s a cute litter of kittens on hand for bottle feedings and photo ops. Although located in nearby Socastee, T.I.G.E.R.S. has a small space at Broadway at the Beach offering a sneak preview of what the attraction has to offer.
* Waccatee Zoo: One of the most unique zoos in the South is actually a converted family farm that is now home to animals all over the world. Always fond of collecting rare species, the Futrell family finally decided to open the zoo after visitors repeatedly pulled into their driveway to get a better view of their camels and water buffalo. Then came the elephants, kangaroos, monkeys, lions, tigers and bears, oh my! The zoo still resembles a family farm, with fenced cages containing such rare species as the zeedonk (part zebra, part donkey) and a petting zoo area with goats and sheep.