A Guide to Animal Encounters in the Maritimes

Uncover the diverse animals that call the Maritimes home!

No matter where you go in the Maritimes, you’re never far from nature and its inhabitants. Whether on land or in the ocean, animals of all shapes and sizes call this region home. If you’re an animal lover, there are unique opportunities all across the Maritimes for you to experience your own unforgettable animal encounter. Here are some suggestions to consider when planning for your upcoming animal-centric expedition across the Maritimes.

Step off The CAT and make your way to see the Big Cats at the Oaklawn Farm Zoo. Only 1 hour, 45 minutes from Yarmouth, and 45 minutes from the mv Fundy Rose, the Oaklawn Farm Zoo is home to a diverse range of animals, including chickens, turtles, monkeys, pythons, and horses. Of course, the real stars at Oaklawn Farm Zoo are Hunter the Lion and his little sister Nnenne. You can watch this inseparable brother and sister duo—along with the rest of their family—sit down for dinner at the Big Cat Feeding, which takes place daily at 6 pm.

The Shubenacadie Wildlife Park offers animal encounters for every member of the family. The Wildlife Park is home to approximately 90 species of birds and mammals, many of which arrived orphaned or injured. These animals are being cared for and rehabilitated by staff with the ultimate goal of returning them to the wild when possible. The park is also home to Shubenacadie Sam, the world-famous groundhog with a knack for predicting the weather. If you’re in the area at sunrise on February 2 of every year, Sam’s Groundhog Day celebration is not to be missed!  

No Maritime animal adventure is complete without heading out on the water to see the whales! For a truly distinct Nova Scotia whale watching experience, try Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises. This expedition will bring you closer to the whales, dolphins, seabirds, and other marine animals than you ever thought possible. The team on Brier Island offers zodiac tours for the truly adventurous, as well tours aboard the 50 foot Mega Nova, which offers amenities such as shelter, a viewing deck, and bathroom for your journey.

The largest zoo in Atlantic Canada, the Magnetic Hill Zoo is home to 625 animals and nearly 80 indigenous and exotic species of mammals, fish, reptiles, birds, and insects. Throughout this 40-acre facility, you can learn more about the zoo’s diverse residents, as well as the impressive conservation efforts undertaken by staff members. The Magnetic Hill Zoo has been named the 4th Best Zoo in Canada by Day Trips Canada, and during your visit, you will quickly discover why!

If you’re more interested in animals who call the ocean home, you’ll want to visit the Fundy Discovery Aquarium as soon as you depart the mv Fundy Rose. Located an hour from Saint John, this aquarium lets you experience life in the Bay of Fundy like never before. Learn about the unique ecosystem that harbour seals and hermit crabs alike call home, gently handle sea stars in the Touch Tank, and participate in daily interpreter-led feedings of seahorses, salmon, and more! While you’re there, be sure to visit Loki and Snorkel, the aquarium’s resident harbour seals and renowned jokesters.

Take a relaxing horse and saddle ride through scenic Prince Edward Island at the Brudenell Riding Stables. These 40 to 45-minute trail rides are a great activity for the entire family and take you from secluded woodlands to the beautiful red sand beaches PEI is known for. For the youngest members of the family, Brudenell Riding Stables also offers pony rides—ensuring everyone will have a special experience they’ll never forget.  

Bird lovers visiting PEI will flock to Fun With Falcons for a once-in-a-lifetime animal encounter with magnificent birds of prey. During this unique adventure, you’ll see hawks and falcons take to the skies to dive, catch air currents, and enjoy the freedom of flight. You’ll also have the opportunity to put on a handler’s glove so one of these incredible birds can land on your hand to say hello! A photo-op with a beautiful bird of prey is sure to provide unforgettable memories for your entire family.

Your Maritime animal encounter starts by booking a trip on The CAT, the mv Fundy Rose, or the mv Confederation or mv Holiday Island. While you’re on your ferry journey, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for seals, whales, and more wildlife!

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