Animal retreats in our own backyard
What kid doesn’t love animals? Hong Kong has many places to view, touch, and teach children about a wide variety of creatures in and out of its concrete jungle. It’s also a great excuse to get outside and and enjoy the temperate weather, and also see some areas of Hong Kong you may not have ventured out to yet. Here are some of best places in Hong Kong to see (and sometimes touch!) a variety of critters.
Editor’s note: We at Sassy Mama care very much about how animals are treated and housed. If you visit any of the locations mentioned here and see something you don’t like, you can contact the Hong Kong SPCA on its 24-hour hotline: 2711 1000 or contact the Agricutlure, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD).
Out of all the places we have been to in Hong Kong, Kadoorie Farm is one of our all-time favourites. Kadoorie Farm is an active organic farm, garden and wildlife sanctuary which initially started as a way to provide agricultural aid to poor farmers in the New Territories in 1956. The farm’s main focus now is on nature conservation, holistic education, and sustainable living. The farm covers 148 hectares of land and walking trails on the hillsides of Tai Po. While the steep inclines might be a challenge for young kids or the elderly, Kadoorie Farms offers a shuttle bus tour to make sure no one misses out. The location is serene and beautiful, and there are some curious and cute critters here that are worth seeing: hawks, owls, parrots, boars, small reptiles, alligators, flamingos and even a couple of Asian leopard cats (love!)! The farm’s animals here are all rescued and unable to return to the wild, but the enclosures are very well-maintained and mimic their natural environments well. The farm also offers an exclusively vegetarian cafe with the ingredients coming directly from the farm. Kadoorie Farms is a fun place to talk to your kids about animal conservation and food sustainability.
Adult admission: $30
Child Admission: $15
Children under 5 or adults over 60: Free
Kadoorie Farm and Botanical Garden, Lam Kam Road, Tai Po, NT. [email protected], 2483 7200
There are more than 600 birds and 70 different species at the Edward Youde Bird Aviary that has been open to the public since 1992. The birds here are mostly indigenous to the Malesia region, and there is a raised walkway within so you can catch all the birds in action without disturbing them. The facility is enclosed by 3,000 square meters of mesh with an emphasis on preserving the already existing trees and foliage. It tries to mask the mesh by adding further greenery inside and outside the aviary to recreate a rainforest setting.
Edward Youde Bird Aviary, Hong Kong Park, 19 Cotton Tree Drive, Central, Hong Kong [email protected], 2521 5041
Located in Tin Shui Wai in the New Territories, Wetland Park is a conservation, education and tourist facility. The park holds 61 hectares of diverse wetland as well as a modern and beautiful visitor centre, exhibition galleries, theatre, souvenir shop and indoor play area. Wetland Park is home to a variety of birds, insects, turtles, rodents, small mammals, amphibians, fish, spiders and even a crocodile! Wetland Park is extremely family- and wheelchair-friendly, and with the size and activities available you can easily make day out of it.
Adult admission $30
Child admission $15
Hong Kong Wetland Park, Wetland Park Rd, Tin Shui Wai, New Territories, Hong Kong [email protected], 3152 2666
The Mai Po Reserve is a World Wildlife Federation (WWF) area and is listed under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance of Hong Kong so, while individual access is restricted, you can book guided tours to view the beautiful marshes. If anyone in your family is a bird lover then the Mai Po Reserve is not to be missed. More than 90,000 birds naturally migrate to the Mai Po Nature reserve every winter and 35 of these species are of a global conservation concern. There are also some beautiful mangroves and a vibrant insect, fish and mud skipper population.
There are four different tours available with varying prices and large discounts for early bookings and larger groups. Check out Mai Po’s Nature Reserve website for further details.
Mai Po Nature Reserve, Mai Po, Yuen Long, New Territories, Hong Kong 2526 1011
Departing from the Auberge Discovery Bay Activity Centre every day of the week, Discovery Bay horse-drawn carriages are a perfect excursion for your little ones (or just horse-crazy kiddos!). The carriages hold up to four people and the scenic trips are 10 minutes in length. The carriages are drawn by two Percheron mares or Belgian geldings and are a good opportunity to introduce your children to larger animals and they can gain first-hand knowledge from the people that work with them.
Discovery Bay Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides, 88 Siena Ave, Lantau Island, Hong Kong [email protected], 2295 8140
Although Kam Shan Country Park is home to many birds and squirrels, the main reason people come here is to see monkeys. Kam Shan Country Park has some beautiful hiking near the Kowloon Reservoir and is famous for its macaque population. Golden Hill Road, or Monkey Hill, is the main path through the park and is one of the best spots to see the primates. They can be cheeky and can come quite close, so our advice is to not have any food on you (especially out the open!) as it is important that the monkeys do not eat human food in order to stay wild. Heading here is a great way to get the family outside and see the closest relatives to humans there is.
Kam Shan Country Park, Golden Hill Road, Shatin. New Territories, Hong Kong
Most people should know by now that Hong Kong has pink dolphins (you knew that, right?!). These rare and endangered species have been spotted around the Hong Kong waters over the last 300 years and are under threat due to their polluted and crowded habitats. Hong Kong Dolphin Watch started up in 1995 with its eco-tours to provide education to the public and to support further research on these little-known animals. Tours take place on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and each tour is around three to four hours in length. With the tour comes sightings, a talk on the environment and what you can do to help, and a visit to its souvenir shop to commemorate your trip (from which kids will no doubt want to get something!).
Adult Admission: $460
Children under 12: $230
Children under 3: $50
Hong Kong Dolphin Watch, 528A Star House, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong [email protected], 2984 1414
Clearwater Bay Equestrian
If your kids have been begging you to go horse riding take them to the Clearwater Bay Equestrian Centre (CEEC). The CEEC is a private member-based club that offers riding options to non-members as well. The CEEC has an amazing view of the sea from Lobster Bay. Its highly trained staff is British Horse Society approved. Non-members are able to book private lessons, one hour rides and assessments. It even offers a package for children between the ages of 4 and 5.
Most kids love a hands-on experience with some fascinating critters, so take them to meet Goatee Toni at Jurassic Garage. Goatee Toni is a herpetologist (he studies amphibians) and conservationist who has been practising presentations (where kids can touch and feel the reptiles) since 1987. Jurassic Garage is a mobile educational and contact experience catering to schools and parties (kids and adults!). You can even join in on a photo shoot, although the good news is the focus here is on education, not entertainment. Jurassic Garage has everything from snakes, hedgehogs, iguanas, giant tortoises and more. For a full list of its animals click here. If you live in an area where you just might need a hand with some pesky reptiles, Jurassic Garage even offers snake removal and phobia treatment services.
For booking inquires and prices you can contact Jurassic Garage here.
Read more: Where To Book Your Kid’s Next Birthday Party
The Tuen Mun Reptile House is one of the small and unknown gems of the New Territories. Located inside Tuen Mun Park, which is conveniently beside the MTR, the Tuen Mun Reptile House holds 52 different live exhibits of 29 different species of reptiles from around the world. The Reptile House has an indoor and outdoor courtyard exhibit in which you can view a wide variety of reptiles such as jungle carpet pythons, veiled chameleons, boa constrictors, Thai-water dragons and more.
Tuen Mun Reptile House, Tuen Mun Heung Sze Wui Rd, Tuen Mun, New Territories, Hong Kong 2451 1144
Want to snuggle some cats while enjoying a coffee AND contributing to charity? The Cats Tearoom is Hong Kong’s largest cat cafe sporting 1,600 sq ft of space and a total of 30 cats which prowl the facility (eight of them are former strays!). The Cats Tearoom is an advocate for the adoption and care of stray cats in Hong Kong and part of its earnings go towards local cat charities in Hong Kong. Kick back and relax as the menu includes some kid-friendly items such as hotdogs, as well as delicious desserts and handmade cookies, all of which pair perfectly with coffee and kittens.
Admission: First hour $65 including a free drink, $30 for each following hour or $108 for unlimited hours (not available on weekdays and holidays).
The Cats Tearoom, Floor 1, 45 Tai Ho Road, Tsuen Wan, New Territories, Hong Kong 2149 6261
Pair your family’s next lunch outing with some bunny time! The Rabbitland Cafe is home to a variety of rabbits as well as a light menu with a variety of western-friendly pickings. You will be required to remove your shoes when you arrive, so if you are wearing sandals bring a pair of socks. You can also buy a pair for $10. There are a few restrictions however. Children under 6 are not allowed, and children between the ages of 6 and 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Petting and feeding the rabbits is encouraged, but you are not allowed to pick up or handle the bunnies for the sake of their well being. Additionally, Rabbitland is a cash-only venue (but there is no service charge!). Reservations are preferred but walk-ins are welcome.
Minimum spend: $50. On weekends there is also a 60 min time limit – $20 for additional 30 minutes or $30 for an additional hour. Rabbit snacks are extra.
Rabbitland Cafe, 3rd Floor, 530 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong 5281 0280
The Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Garden is the oldest park on the island having been built in 1860. Its gardens cover a 5.6 hectare area and include a fountain, play area, and a few memorials. Entirely outside, the park is a nice walk for the family and a fun way to spend the afternoon. The zoo compromises a variety of birds and mammals – including two orangutans. But, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention it has come under scrutiny in recent years by international animal welfare organisations for the unnatural habitation and lack of psychological stimulation for its larger mammals.
Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens, Albany Road, Central, Hong Kong [email protected], 2530 0154
Ocean Park is one of Hong Kong’s biggest amusement venues with plenty of animals and rides to partake in and enjoy. You could easily spend a weekend here taking in the aquariums and amusements. Pandas, sharks, stingrays, dolphins, penguins, sea lions, walruses, and large manta rays are some of the headline animals available at Ocean Park. However, this venue has also come under scrutiny by animal welfare groups for its dolphin-breeding program and show.
Adult Admission: $480
Child Admission: $280
Ocean Park, Ocean Park, Aberdeen, Hong Kong, 3923 2323
This well-known organic farm has a variety of farm activities for the whole family. You can pick your own organic fruits and vegetables – its most famous attraction is the strawberry picking – and kids can view and pet a variety of farm animals like goats, boars, rabbits, ferrets and emus. There is also horseback riding, a BBQ area, and fishing activities available. However, just this year animal rights groups have recently criticised the park on the animals’ living conditions.
Admission: Entry is $50 for an Adult/Child or you can pay $130 which includes entry and four different activities. – Cash Only
Tai Tong Ecopark, No.11, Tai Tong Shan Road, Yuen Long, New Territories, Hong Kong [email protected], 24702201