Snow Leopard Trust
Founded in 1981, the Snow Leopard Trust is the world’s leading authority on the study and protection of the endangered snow leopard. This non-profit group is really amazing. I became enamored with snow leopards by volunteering at my local zoo. My zoo is affiliated with the Snow Leopard Trust, which is how I found out about the organization. I became so interested and impressed with the Trust’s research and work to save not only snow leopards, but communities in snow leopard areas, that I started doing volunteer work for them and eventually started a chapter of the Snow Leopard Trust in my town. Check out their website for lots of information on snow leopards and the methods the Snow Leopard Trust takes to save these magnificent creatures. They are really quite an amazing group.
Smithsonian National Zoological Park
The National Zoo is located in Washington DC and always has tons of things going on. But even if you can’t visit the zoo in person, you can check out their animal cams that show their animals live on the internet – they rock!
Mill Mountain Zoo
Mill Mountain Zoo is a small zoo with a lot to see. I started volunteering at this zoo about 2 years ago because I absolutely love animals and I wanted to get some hands on experience with animals that I never had access to before. It’s such a wonderful experience. Our zoo has all kinds of amazing creatures including: snow leopards, a Canadian lynx, red wolves, a wolverine, a Corsac fox, macaques, a dwarf zebu, a takin, several species of exotic birds, several reptiles and amphibians and LOTS more! The zoo is located on top of Mill Mountain and it’s a beautiful setting. There are lots of trees located in the zoo itself, so it’s especially nice to visit on a hot summer day when you get the breeze from being on top of the mountain, and you get all the shade from the trees. Also, the smallness of the zoo means that you can usually find keepers going about doing their duties, and they are all happy to answer questions about the animals if you should have any. It’s a must see in Roanoke!
The Conservators Center is a facility that takes in animals when their owners can no longer care for them and that also rescues animals from various unsafe or unhealthy conditions. They are amazing creatures and the Conservators Center guides will explain each animal’s story and how they came to live at the Center. Some of the rescued animals came from previously horrible situations, and it’s astonishing to see how well they are recuperating and actually thriving at the Center with proper nutrition, healthcare and even play time. The staff at the Conservators Center is wonderful with their animals and provides them with everything they need to live happy healthy lives.
When touring the Center, you are always a safe distance from the animals, but you can get much closer than at a zoo so that you can really see the animal well. You’ll even be able to hear and smell them from such a close distance and it really enhances the experience. Learning the life stories of and interacting so closely with the animals makes you feel bonded to them. Sometimes one of the animals will begin creating a noise and then they all join in the chorus. The wolves howl, the lions roar, the tigers grumble, the singing dogs sing and even the smaller animals join in with their calls. The sound of all these animals in unison is out of this world and can give you chills. It’s a truly remarkable experience.
Wildlife Center of Virginia
The Wildlife Center of Virginia was formed in 1982 to provide quality health care, often on an emergency basis, to native wildlife. They have awesome critter cams that you can access on their website to watch live feeds of some of their current residents. The Center also offers rehabilitation classes for various levels of experienced or inexperiences individuals who wish to learn about rehabbing. I’ve taken a couple classes and they were awesome. I hope to take more some day. The website is also updated daily with information about new animals who are brought to the center for injuries or illnesses. It’s great to be able to learn about the status of animals, so the website is always full of new and interesting information!