Are you an animal lover but don’t have the time, space or sympathetic landlord that might otherwise allow you to own a pet? Boasting year-round attractions, regular volunteer opportunities and annual expos, Orange County is an excellent place to get out and spend some time among furry, hoofed and winged friends, without breaking the bank or the terms of a lease.
America’s Family Pet Expo
OC Fair & Event Center
88 Fair Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Held every year, America’s Family Pet Expo is one gigantic expo that descends on the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa in Orange County. Animal enthusiasts from every walk of life and in any stage of pet ownership can come marvel at this grand, furry spectacle. From canine endurance exhibitions, to a police dog demonstrations, classes about cats and rubbing elbows with reptiles, there’s plenty to see and do here. You can even mingle within the “menagerie of birds.” Held this year in April, stop by to observe, interact and become part of the fun. Aside from dog event, a reptile show, Police K9 demonstrations, bird shows, and a kids aquarium contest, you’ll also get to take part in a petting zoo, pony rides and animal experts of every breed will be on hand. Pet adoption is also available and encouraged.
Related: Best Reptile Shops In Orange County
ZOOMARS Petting Zoo
31791 Los Rios St.
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
If you’re a fan of animals, then visiting ZOOMARS Petting Zoo is perfect for you. If you’ve ever dreamed of petting a llama, or getting up close and personal with an emu, and taking advantage of one of the best petting zoo’s in Orange County, then this innocent and old-fashioned destination is a must visit. Ever dreamed of feeding a pheasant, or seeing a real live alpaca? Well, here’s your chance. ZOOMARS Petting Zoo, conveniently located in the heart of San Juan Capistrano, lets you get close to interesting, exotic, and, yes, well-behaved animals of every sort. Much more than a petting pen, this clean, safe, family-fun facility offers pony rides, a gold mine adventure and a train attraction for toddlers. Geared mostly for preschoolers, but a draw for all ages, get prepared to get a bit dusty. But, the fun is more than worth it!
OC Animal Care
61 The City Drive S.
Orange, CA 92868
If you have a passion for spending time around wonderful, loving animals, while performing a service to the community, then a visit to OC Animal Care is right up your alley. As an open-admission animal shelter, they take in more than 30,000 dogs, cats, bunnies and other pets, all with the intent to rehabilitate some that have been injured or need behavioral counseling. The goal here is to take in pets of all kinds from people who can no longer take care of then, which is a much-needed service. If you want to volunteer and make a difference, OC Animal Care wants you. OC Animal Care volunteers walk, foster and tend to dogs and cats and provide temporary care for young, abused, injured and neglected animals. Interact with under-socialized animals while they are prepared for adoption. Make a new best friend while you help local, needy animals find a new home.
Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park
30952 Oso Parkway
Coto De Caza, CA 92679
As a wildlife sanctuary, Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park is home to an abundance of animal life. This OC Park offer the opportunity to commune with nature, without any of the inconvenience of vet visits and cleanup. A 540-acre wildlife refuge, Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park features a vast array of native animal, bird and plant life where you’ll get to tour the Ranger Station to get a sense for the area’s inhabitants and history, then explore the five miles trail system where you can encounter deer, horses, bountiful birds and surely a squirrel or two.
All God’s Creatures Petting Zoo
Chino Hills, CA
Let this traveling zoo and pony show come to you! If your full-time schedule makes it difficult to own your own pet, why not have an entire zoo in your own front yard? All God’s Creatures traveling zoo and pony ride service says you can. Choose a particular theme to suit your occasion and mood. With ponies, goats an sheep, miniature animals, bunnies, birds, bugs and reptiles, you’ll get to interact with a bevy of beautiful animals. Carriage rides and educational classroom visits are a specialty. Located in Chino Hills, All God’s Creatures proudly serves Orange County and Southern California. Professional, responsible, licensed with USDA to meet all the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act and is an active, compassionate California Department Of Fish and Game Licensed Rehabilitation facility.