"Animals do not admire each other," French philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote. "A horse does not admire its companion." Humans are the exception: We not only admire one another, but we also love animals. Here are three new travel programs that let you leave the binoculars at home.
-- Robin Rauzi
Trainer for a Day
Up close?: Work with the family of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. Help the trainers feed, train and check the animals' health. And learn some dolphin sign language.
And personal?: Only four participants per day, though each can take along an "observer" (read: photographer).
Details: $500 per person; $150 for observer. Reserve at least a month in advance. Closed Thursdays.
Out of Africa Wildlife Park
Baby Tiger Play Time
Camp Verde, Ariz.
Up close?: Play with Harvest and Harmony, the two 5-month-old Siberian tiger cubs. Playing with humans teaches the cats how to be careful with humans, says park owner Dean Harrison, preparing them for other interactive exhibits in the park.
And personal?: One to four people at a time, age 13 and older, for 15 minutes. Obviously, this is a limited time offer -- probably over by the end March.
Details: $300, also includes admission to the preserve for four people. By appointment only.
Montage Resort & Spa
Do the SAZoo
Up close?: Private, behind-the-scenes tour of the Santa Ana Zoo starting at 9 a.m., before the gates open. Zookeepers offer close looks at the monkeys, exotic birds and snakes, as well as the animal hospital before morning feeding time at the Crean Family Farm.
And personal?: Exclusive to guests staying at the Montage in Laguna Beach. Two children per adult, limit six people. Leave the distant cousins at home.
Details: $200 per family. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays only. Reservations required. Also includes Zoofari Express train ride.