Powered by our sister site, Family Vacation Critic

In Your Face: 9 Up-Close Animal Encounters

  • feeding a giraffe
  • swimming with a dolphin
  • bobcat cub
  • feeding kangaroos
  • cheetah
  • washing elephants
  • hugging a panda
  • swimming with a manatee
  • petting a lion cub
For most people, seeing wild animals from the comforting vantage of the other side of the cage is exactly how they like it. But for some of us, that lion's chin just cries out to be scratched. That panda is asking for a hug and that dolphin clearly wants to play. For those of us for whom the other side of the cage is too far away, there are many places around the world that offer interactive experiences with a variety of animals. From feeding giraffes and kangaroos to cuddling pandas and wombats or swimming with dolphins and manatees, here's our selection of the best places to get up close and personal with exotic animals.

Click on any of the images on the left to start the slideshow.

--written by Dori Saltzman