To get a closer look at Foxy, the new red fox at the Tackapausha Museum and Preserve in Seaford, you’ll need to outfox an animal more accustomed to living in the wild.
Foxy, who arrived at Tackapausha last September from Eastern Long Island, will celebrate his first birthday in March in a straw-filled enclosure. “He’s still kind of skittish with people,” says Becky Moroney, Tackapausha supervisor.
But with museum animals “more active now than in the summer when it’s so hot,” Moroney says patient guests may see Foxy emerge for his favorite game: “to play hide and seek with kids.”
Looking to encounter Long Island wildlife without having to dress for the weather? Here are indoor and outdoor spaces to safely observe, feed, handle and even take selfies with hundreds of creatures great, small and newly arrived.
Quogue Wildlife Refuge
3 Old Country Rd.
The 305-acre Hamptons wildlife refuge boasts seven miles of hiking trails, a nature center crawling with turtles, geckos and chinchillas. Guests can explore the Outdoor Wildlife Complex to meet the resident owls, falcons and other native species. Visitors flock to see two Eastern screech owls, Ollie and Wally, who “weigh less than a pound and are just adorable,“ says membership coordinator Jessica Graham. Kids can attend a Winter Wildlife Camp from Feb. 20 to 23 where campers take daily hikes, see animals and get creative in crafting sessions.
Cost Free; Winter camp is $280 for four days or $75 per session
Hours Open dawn to dusk daily
More info 631-653-4771, quoguewildliferefuge.org
Long Island Aquarium
431 E. Main St., Riverhead
Along with penguins and pinnipeds, Long Island’s full-scale public aquarium is home to more than 5,000 animals ranging in size from butterflies to a California sea lion and sand tiger sharks.
Flo, a 1 ½ -year-old female river otter, arrived last fall and gets along swimmingly in her habitat with Stark, a larger, 10-year-old male river otter named after Iron Man’s Tony Stark. Visitors can have a free look at the seals romping in the outdoor habitat at the front of the building. Animal-centric events run throughout the day including penguin feeding, seal training and sea lion selfie sessions.
Cost $45.99, $31.99 ages 3 to 12
Hours Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays
More info 631-278-9200, longislandaquarium.com
Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery and Aquarium
1660 Route 25A
The Walter L. Ross II Aquarium building houses more than 30 different species of freshwater fish native to New York State, including large and smallmouth bass, sunfish, yellow and white perch, and brook trout, notes hatchery biologist Patrick Robertson. Another building exhibit features New York native turtles, snakes and amphibians. Visitors “get to see what’s in our local waters, and they even get to feed some of the fish,” Robertson says ($4). Visitors can celebrate frogs and toads on Leap Day, Feb. 29 with a frog encounter, craft and scavenger hunt.
Cost $7, $5 ages 3 to 12
Hours Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
More info 516-692-6768, cshfishhatchery.org
Tackapausha Museum and Preserve
2225 Washington Ave., Seaford
The 3,000-square-foot museum is a sanctuary for 75 animal inhabitants ranging from reptiles to birds of prey. Recent arrivals include a 6-foot long, 20-year-old red-tail boa and two Egyptian fruit bat babies. Stroll the adjacent preserve to see ducks and geese on Tackapausha Pond. Snake-feeding demonstrations are held around noon, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Cost $5, $3 ages 5 and older
Hours Open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday to Sunday
More info 516-571-7443, nassaucountyny.gov
Jones Beach Energy and Nature Center, Jones Beach State Park
West End 2, 150 Bay Pkwy, Wantagh
Located a brisk walk from the beach, the center features live marine animal exhibits. Guided seal walks are scheduled on selected days through March. The walks begin with an educator lecture and end with a chance to spot wild seals swimming in the bay. Adjacent nature trails offer glimpses of Eastern cottontail rabbits, marsh hawks, red foxes and harbor seals. Educator-guided touch tank encounters featuring hermit crabs and spider crabs are scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m. on weekends throughout February.
Cost Free to visit center; $4 per person for seal walks through March, register in advance
Hours Open daily 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
More info 516- 809-8222, jonesbeachenc.org
Center for Science at Tanglewood Preserve
1450 Tanglewood Rd., Rockville Centre
The 16-acre facility includes a museum housing more than 40 animal “ambassadors” including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and arthropods such as spiders. Among the reptile ambassadors, Xavier the 5-foot long ball python is “so friendly anyone can pet him, even the little ones,” says director at CSTL Ray Ann Havasy. Families can come see Animal shows at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays in February with museum admission.
Cost $15, $12 ages 1 to 12
Hours Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed Wednesdays
More info 516-764-0045, cstl.org