Go to a Zoo in a Rainforest
Coming face-to-face with a 450-pound white Bengal tiger is a humbling experience, particularly in Hawai‘i where strict regulations have banned most wild creatures. If you take a stroll through Hilo’s Pana‘ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens, be sure to meet the Bengal named Namaste.
Known as the only tropical rainforest zoo in the United States, this 12-acre habitat and botanical garden is home to numerous animals, reptiles, monarch butterflies and birds, some of which are native only to Hawai‘i.
See giant anteaters from South America and Binturongs (Asian bear cats) from South East Asia. Also in residence are two-toed sloths and green iguanas from South America, a miniature cow (Zebu) from India and wide-eyed lemurs from Madagascar. Feral pigs nest in a stone abode, as do whistling ducks.
Native Hawaiian animal life includes Hawaiian gallinules, pueo (owls), ‘io (hawks), and Hawai‘i’s state bird, the nene goose. The zoo, open daily, is located on Highway 11, about 4 miles south of Hilo.