Whether you want to see a goat, spy on osprey, watch the sharks or just view the unusual, Long Island has an array of mammals, birds, reptiles, fish or amphibians that should suit your fancy. Here's our list of several places you can take the family to get a closer peek at nature. Be aware that feeding and/or petting the animals is off limits at many places.
ANIMAL FARM PETTING ZOO AND FAMILY PARK, 296 Wading River Rd., Manorville, 631-878-1785, afpz.org. Features Camel, parrots, monkeys, llamas, reptiles, emus, wallabies, zebu miniature cows and other exotic animals. Farm animals and babies can be petted and bottle fed. Free pony rides, playgrounds and picnic areas. Safari train tour for additional fee. Hours 11 a.m.-5 p.m. daily through mid-Nov. Fee $15.50, $13.50 children ages 2-16 and seniors 65 and over.
CENTER FOR SCIENCE TEACHING AND LEARNING, 1450 Tanglewood Rd., Rockville Centre, 516-764-0045, cstl.org. Features Dinosaurs!, an exhibit including robotic and life-size skeletal dinosaurs; Animal Adventure Park including live animals. Hours 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. Fee $15, $12 seniors and children ages 1-12.
COLD SPRING HARBOR FISH HATCHERY AND AQUARIUM, 1660 Rte. 25A, Cold Spring Harbor, 516-692-6768, cshfishhatchery.org. Features Brook and rainbow trout, from fry through maturity, as well as freshwater fish, turtles, snakes and amphibians native to the state. Call regarding year-round Catch & Keep Trout Fishing Program. Hours 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily Sept.-May. Fee $7, $6 seniors 65 and older, $5 ages 3-12.
HOLTSVILLE PARK, ECOLOGY SITE AND ANIMAL PRESERVE, 249 Buckley Rd., Holtsville, 631-758-9664, brookhavenny.gov. Features Outdoor ecology center, domestic and wild animals, greenhouses; educational tours and classes available. Includes Safety Town, a replica of a miniature village with an indoor educational facility. Also picnic area, playground, jogging trail. Hours Animal preserve open 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Fee Free (fee for parking).
LONG ISLAND AQUARIUM, 431 E. Main St., Riverhead, 631-208-9200, longislandaquarium.com. Features Coral reef displays, shark tank, sea lion shows, penguins, touch tanks and more than 100 exhibits and interactive experiences, including butterflies, bugs and birds. Hours 11 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. Fee $35 ages 13-61, $26 seniors 62 and older, $23 ages 3-12, free on your birthday.
LONG ISLAND GAME FARM WILDLIFE PARK AND CHILDREN’S ZOO, 489 Chapman Blvd., Manorville, 631-878-6644, longislandgamefarm.com, 631-878-6644. Features Features wallaby and tortoise encounters, alligator feeding, petting zoos, picnic areas and snack bar. Hours 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily through October. Fee $18.95, $16.95 ages 3-12 and seniors 62 and over.
NORMAN J. LEVY PARK, 1600 Merrick Rd., Merrick, 516-804-2000, hempsteadny.gov. Features A herd of 20 Nigerian dwarf goats can be seen grazing; wildlife including osprey, ducks, foxes and reptiles. Also features 50 acres surrounded by tidal wetland, hiking trails, accessible fishing pier on Merrick Bay and canoe and kayak launch. No dogs. Hours Opens 7 a.m. daily, closing time varies seasonally. Fee Free.
SOUTH SHORE NATURE CENTER, 130 Bayview Ave., East Islip, 631-581-1562, seatuck.org. Features 2.3-mile trail through salt marsh, upland oak and hickory forest; nature museum, picnic area, weekend family programs, forest-based preschool, school and Scout programs. Hours Building: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat. and noon-5 p.m. Sun., programming available all week; grounds open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Fee Free; $8 for some weekend programs; free nature program 3 p.m. Sat.
SUFFOLK COUNTY FARM AND EDUCATION CENTER, 350 Yaphank Ave., Yaphank, 631-852-4600, ccesuffolk.org. Features See llamas, sheep, pigs, rabbits, cows and other farm animals; picnic areas; nature-based programs; camps; programs for special-needs audiences. Hours 9 a.m.-3 p.m. daily. Fee Free except for special events and some programs; $4 animal feed cup.
SWEETBRIAR NATURE CENTER, 62 Eckernkamp Dr., Smithtown, 631-979-6344, sweetbriarnc.org. Features Hiking trails through wetlands, fields and forests with views of the Nissequogue River; Nature museum with interactive simulated rainforest and local forest exhibits (fee). The nature center has a reptile room and rehabs a variety of wildlife including owls, birds, ducks, turtles and goats. Hours 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Fee $2 rainforest exhibit.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT SANCTUARY AND AUDUBON CENTER, 134 Cove Rd., Oyster Bay, 516-922-3200, ny.audubon.org/trsanctuary. Features 13 acres of trails. View songbirds and other wildlife on the trails and gardens. Check website for special programs. Hours Gardens and trails open daily dawn-dusk. Fee Free.
WHITE POST FARMS, 250 Old Country Rd., Melville, 631-351-9373, animalpettingzoo.com. Features Market, garden center, petting zoo and animal farm with flight aviary and monkey barn. Pony/train rides (fee) Hours Animal farm open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Fee $19.95 (advance) includes farm, playground, some entertainment.