Take a Walk on the Wild Side in L.A.

Walk with wolves like Jon Snow and hug rescued farm animals

Our feathered and furry friends find the weather and geography of Los Angeles just as hospitable as we do, which makes it an ideal place for animal sanctuaries. While coyotes, deer, rabbits and cougars enjoy free reign of our rugged terrain, sometimes their domesticated cousins need a little help to thrive. Here are a few local organizations caring for creatures great and small while offering memorable interactive experiences, sure to leave an impression on the heart.

Gentle Barn  Photo Courtesy Facebook
A hug with Crystal the cow | Photo courtesy of The Gentle Barn Facebook

The Gentle Barn

The Gentle Barn lets you get up close and personal with animals they’ve rescued from severe abuse and neglect and others who were just too old, sick, lame, or scared to be adopted into alternate homes. Brush a cow, cuddle a chicken, nuzzle a goat, pet a donkey, feed a horse, all while supporting their inspiring mission to “open people’s hearts to the connections with nature.” Tours are given on Sundays, season passes are available, and celebratory events may be hosted on the farm, as well. They serve as an educational experience for special needs and at-risk groups, too. Every detail of the nonprofit’s operation, right down to the vegan snack bar, shows their commitment to compassion.

Hiking with Wolves at Wolf Connection
Hiking with Wolves at Wolf Connection  |  Photo: Shelley Leopold

Wolf Connection

Indulge your Game of Thrones fantasies and walk with wolf dogs on a beautiful 165-acre mountainous ranch while learning all about these seemingly mythological hybrids. Dedicated docents at Wolf Connection share the background of each animal living on the compound, with tours speaking in terms of pack behavior and lessons for survival easily transferable to humans. Wolf Connection offers visits as a one-of-a-kind airbnb experience but their main mission is Wolf Therapy™, an empowerment program pairing at-risk youth with rehabilitated wolves, helping both to find their place in the world. Anyone granted a nudge or kiss from these canines is sure to go home with something to howl about.

Aspen and Willow at Shambala Preserve | Photo courtesy of The Roar Foundation, Facebook

Shambala Preserve

Actress Tippi Hedren’s big cat rescue, Shambala Preserve has the dubious distinction of being the film set of "the most dangerous movie ever shot" (Roar, 1981). However, the property was always planned as a refuge for abused or abandoned animals, and also serves as an important first responder outpost during fire season. Ms. Hedren’s team is well-focused on their felines’ well-being and runs a top notch rescue with happy tigers, lions, a leopard and more. Tippi lives on the property, which has a replica of the playground set from The Birds. Take a tour, meet the kitties and stay for a picnic. When she’s in town, Tippi will give you her personal low down on big cat matters at hand.