If you are looking for an exotic animal encounter in the US. You are probably curious about wildlife and would love to experience holding or touching these animals. What if you can touch a kangaroo and see a joey moving in its pouch just inches away? What if an otter climbed in your lap for a photo? What if you were close enough to a sloth to hear it chew?
Can you imagine that feeling and the unique experience you will remember for years? There is only one place to enjoy these experiences, and that’s Tanganyika Wildlife Park. Skilled trainers provide memorable animal experiences in a respectful way to the animals, where welfare is always top of mind.
Tanganyika has some of the best animal encounters in the US, and we will tell you why they are the best, how to prepare for your animal encounters, and highlight two of our favorites.
5 Things To Do When Planning Your Otter Encounters At Tanganyika
Animal encounters at Tanganyika Wildlife Park go beyond visual learning. We hope you develop empathy for these animals as you learn more about the challenges they face in their natural habitat.
Our team works with conservation partners in the field to stay updated on the status of habitats and populations in their native spaces. The keepers have spent years in wildlife learning about animal behavior, training, and welfare. This helps prepare them for their zoo keeper jobs. Most have college degrees in biology or psychology and are always ready to answer your questions.
We use positive reinforcement training to prepare the animals for encounters, which can sometimes take years. For example, with our otters—born here at the zoo—we used small approximations, taking each behavior they needed for the otter encounters and breaking it down into small pieces. It took our otters about two years of training to get where they are now.
So what do you need to do to prepare for an experience? Well, don’t worry, you don’t have to plan and prepare for years, but there are some things you need to know.
Before visiting the park, planning ahead by scheduling your otter encounter in advance is important. If you’re searching “otter encounters near me,” Tanganyika will surely be on the list.
Many of the meet-and-greets and behind-the-scenes experiences sell out ahead of time, so if you want to be sure to meet the otters, we suggest booking in advance. You can see the availability by clicking the “book now” button on the otter meet and greet page.
Although the otter encounters happen indoors, you might not enjoy the rest of the park on cold and windy days. Many of our animals require temperatures above 50 degrees to be out and interact with our guests. Be sure of the weather forecast when planning to visit the park, and come dressed for the temperature and weather conditions. We also recommend closed-toed shoes for the otter meet and greet and throughout the park.
Length of Stay:
Whether you are coming from a long distance, planning to spend the weekend with us, or are from Kansas, Tanganyika and the surrounding areas in Wichita provides many options for an overnight stay.
Our onsite AirBNB is a beautiful home that overlooks our cheetah breeding complex. Hawkins Estate can accommodate more than ten visitors and provide them with an indoor gaming room, pool, and pickleball courts. We encourage you to spend the whole day at Tanganyika enjoying our animal encounters, stay overnight, and explore Wichita.
Bring your camera:
While we guarantee your visit will be unforgettable, you should never forget to come with your camera. This allows you to pose for pictures during your otter encounters and a penguin encounter.
Don’t have a Camera? Don’t worry. You can capture your memories with your smartphone. Also, our team knows how to get you and the animal in the perfect position for an Instagram-worthy photo.
Make sure you don’t miss the other animals:
With over 500 different animals, you are sure to have a favorite. Spend some time before your visit reviewing the Tanganyika Park Map so you can find your favorite species. Many of our animals are involved in feeding or behind-the-scenes animal encounters, so make sure you don’t miss your favorite one. Need help deciding which animal you want to ensure is on your list? Check our TikTok page to see some of our animals in action.
Penguin Encounters: 3 Ways To Get Up-close to a Penguin
In addition to the otter encounter, one of the other most popular animal encounters at Tanganyika Wildlife Park are the penguin encounters. There are over 50 African penguins at Tanganyika, and they are the favorites at the park. There are three ways to interact with them:
1. Penguin Meet and Greet
With our Penguin Meet and Greet, you will enjoy a penguin waddling around your chairs, chasing feathers and toys. Our keepers will allow you to touch a penguin and tell you how they preen their feathers, stay safe from sea lions, and mate for life. You’ll pose for a picture with your new penguin friend, so you have a keepsake of this incredible experience.
2. Penguin Swim
Tanganyika is the only place in the world where you can get in the water with African penguins outside the beaches in their native habitat. Our expert keepers will guide you into the penguin habitat and teach you how to interact with the penguins that will surround you. For ages eight and up, this experience is one that you and your kids will discuss at dinner time when they are 25.
3. Penguin Feeding
If you’re looking for a shorter experience where you can still see a penguin up close and help a zookeeper feed, then our penguin feeding experience is for you! This is only $10/ person; each person gets to feed a penguin two fish and interact with our keeper team. It happens once a day, so make sure you reserve in advance.
For more about our penguin experiences, read this article.
Best Practices for the Best Animal Encounters at Tanganyika Wildlife Park
During all our animal encounters, from otter encounters to penguin encounters to giraffe feeding, visitors must follow certain rules and guidelines to ensure the safety and well-being of the animals and themselves. Some of the things visitors must observe include:
Following instructions of the Tanganyika team: Visitors must follow the instructions of the park staff at all times, including how to feed the animals and where to stand. Our keepers and animal encounter attendants have been trained to ensure our guests stay safe and our animals are respected during all interactions. They’re the experts, so ask questions and listen closely.
Feeding only the designated animals: As an interactive park, visitors can feed multiple animals. However, not all the animals in the zoo are part of animal encounters, so only interact with animals where an attendant is present. It’s important to respect zoo barriers and not reach over or climb on fences and barriers.
Using the provided food: You can not give out random food to animals. This is to ensure your safety and that of the animals involved. The park provides the appropriate food for the animals being fed, and visitors are not allowed to bring their own food or treats.
Animal-Human Safety: To ensure the safety and well-being of our animals, we kindly request that visitors refrain from touching or harassing them without prior permission. While some animals enjoy interacting with visitors, others feel more comfortable without physical contact. Visitors can enjoy observing these beautiful creatures in their natural habitats by respecting their space and keeping a safe distance.
What Makes Animal Encounters at Tanganyika the Best?
Education: You will have the opportunity to learn about various animals and their habitats, behavior, conservation efforts, and the importance of protecting the natural world.
Interaction with animals: You can get up close and personal with animals, including lemurs, kangaroos, and lorikeets. This interaction provides a unique and memorable experience for you and your family.
Family-friendly activities: Tanganyika is more than a zoo. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, we’re a water park too. Enjoy Tanganyika Falls Splash Park or the Thirsty Sloth Bar if that’s more your speed.
Conservation efforts: You will learn about our conservation initiatives and how we work to protect endangered and threatened species. Our keepers will also teach you how to make a difference in protecting wildlife.
Animal welfare: Our animals benefit from the experiences as well. They build confidence and resilience by experiencing new things. Training benefits animals’ mental well-being, and they enjoy interacting with new people.
To have a great animal encounter and experience at Tanganyika or any other Safari Park, you need to get familiar with the overview of the animals in the park. Tanganyika is more than a zoo because our animals want to interact with you.
For more on our animal experiences at Tanganyika read this blog. Are you ready to plan a visit today? Book Now.