7 Wild Wildlife Adventures in NC

If you're interested in conservation, NC has got you covered.


July 5, 2019 

Whether you are looking for volunteer experience, conservation information or an educational day for the kids, these wildlife centers in North Carolina are perfect places to start. North Carolina offers a diverse group of places for locals to get involved with conservation and their community. Each organization possesses a unique mission which can profoundly affect humans and wildlife locally and all the way to global levels. Check out this list of places for you to take your first adventurous steps:

1. Duke Lemur Center

Located in Durham, the Duke Lemur Center houses the most diverse and largest population of lemurs in the world outside of Madagascar. This research facility is open to the public and offers volunteer experiences ranging from working as a tour guide to generating 3-D digital models of the fossil collection. The Duke Lemur Center was also the home of Jovian, the lemur famous for hosting the PBS KIDS series Zoboomafoo.

2. Carolina Raptor Center

Raptors exist outside of the world of Jurassic Park! Really, the word raptor refers to a bird of prey and the Carolina Raptor Center mission is rehabilitate orphaned or injured raptors. The Carolina Raptor Center educates on-site in Huntersville or off-site through various education programs. Adult volunteers can help in the raptor medical facility or respond to reports about injured raptors and aid in their transport.

3. Carolina Tiger Rescue

As the name suggests, Carolina Tiger Rescue houses wild cats with the goal of saving and protecting them in captivity and in the wild. Based in Pittsboro, Carolina Tiger Rescue keeps many species of wild cats, including cougars, ocelots and lions. Staff members lead tours Friday, Saturday and Sunday year-round and hold community presentations to educate visitors about the importance of conservation. Be sure to go online to buy your tickets!

4. Sylvan Heights Bird Park

The Sylvan Heights Bird Park, located in Scotland Neck, showcases waterfowl and birds from North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia with the goal of educating visitors about waterfowl and conservation. Volunteers who are interested in pursuing a career in biology or zoology may find themselves working in the Sylvan Heights Avian Breeding Center, which houses more than 3,000 birds.

5. Conservators Center

Over 70 animals and 21 species call Burlington home because of the Conservators Center. With a mission to educate and reconnect people with wildlife, the Conservators Center introduces the public to rare, threatened and endangered species. Some of the animals you may see at a weekend tour include new guinea singing dogs, gray wolves and dingoes.

6. Western North Carolina Nature Center

The Western North Carolina Nature Center is perfect for people who want to learn a little more about our state's wildlife because its goal is simply to introduce people with the plants and animals of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Located in Asheville, the Western North Carolina Nature Center showcases local animals—and a few not-so-local ones, such as the red panda, that can flourish in the ecosystem.

7. Piedmont Wildlife Center

In addition to leading popular classes, camps and programs, the Piedmont Wildlife Center teaches through the use of wildlife ambassadors demonstrating the importance on conservation. Although located in Durham, the Piedmont Wildlife Center’s research has an effect on the entire state. For example, its Turtle Trekkers program uses volunteer help to help figure out why the eastern box turtle is on a decline in North Carolina. 

—Zachary O. Perry 

 Zachary Perry is a writing intern for the Sci NC team, and a senior at UNC Wilmington studying professional writing.