More Adorable Animal Encounters

courtesy Sunshine River Tours

Why stop at pandas? There are many other ways you can interact with the world's most adorable animals.

Dolphins Eight dolphins displaced by Hurricane Katrina were flown to a habitat run by Atlantis resort in the Bahamas. A half-hour of play with the dolphins runs $150. "You can even feel their heartbeats," says a staffer. 800/285-2684,

Koalas To cuddle one of the koalas at Kuranda Koala Gardens, a tropical-wildlife park in Queensland, Australia, talk to the folks at the Koala House desk ($13). "It's a lot like holding a baby," says a keeper. 011-61/7-4093-9953,

Manatees You can snorkel in Florida's King Spring for 90 minutes, reaching out and touching a manatee (if one of the sweet, chubby-faced animals approaches first). Captain Mike's Sunshine River Tours, 352/628-3450,, $50.

Giraffes The Intro to Zoo Keeping at ZSL London Zoo lets you help out with the likes of giraffes, big cats, and penguins. (Also available at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.) Reservations for 2008 can be made as of this fall. 011-44/20-7449-6274,, $310.

Elephants In the Trunk-in-Hand program at the Elephant Sanctuary, near Cape Town, South Africa, you get to hold an elephant's trunk and walk a short while before feeding the animal. 011-27/44-534-8145,, $36, $18 kids.

Monkeys Mario and Lori Pi run tours on Roatán island, Honduras, that include hanging with white-faced, spider, and howler monkeys. "Don't wear sunglasses," warns Mario. Roatán Tourist Info, 011-504/3336-5597,, $17, $8 kids.

Polar Bears At Polar Bear Habitat in Cochrane, Ontario, thrill-seekers clamber into a shallow pool with a glass partition; on the other side, there's a 26-year-old male bear named Nanook and two younger female twins. 705/272-2327,, $20, $12 kids.

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