Go to a Zoo in a Rain­for­est

101 Things to Do (Big Island) - - HILO/HAMAKUA COAST -

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.

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