In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, we aim to take very good care of our natural resources, to not only provide a beautiful vacation experience year round, but to continue to provide a safe haven for the plants and animals that are indigenous to our area. Perhaps no other day are we more aware of our impact on the environment than on Endangered Species Day, which this year falls on Friday, May 20.
It is said that one of the top ways to encourage conservation and help species on the endangered list is to learn more about them. In the Myrtle Beach area we are lucky enough to have several facilities that educate locals and visitors alike on rare species and their habitats.
Huntington Beach State Park
Most of the beautiful Huntington Beach State Park is registered under the South Carolina Heritage Trust Program in order to help preserve its natural wonders. In addition to being one of the best places on the east coast for birding (see a checklist here), as well as for spotting animals like the mink or alligator, it also is a nesting ground for the rare and endangered Loggerhead sea turtle. The nearby Myrtle Beach State Park is also a nesting ground and offers several educational events about the sea turtle for park-goers. Nesting begins this month and will continue to late summer, with hatching typically beginning in late July.
T.I.G.E.R.S. Preservation Station
The attraction’s acronym stands for The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species and its mission lives up to it: to educate visitors about the rare animals in its care and to raise funding for the preservation of these creatures. A guided walking tour is offered on the 50-acre preserve, where you’ll meet tigers, wolves, leopards, chimpanzees, orangutans and other endangered species, many of them up-close and un-caged. The life-changing and one-of-a-kind encounters include holding a baby tiger and petting an elephant and orangutan. The tour also includes a look at the Golden Tabby Bengal, the rarest tiger in the world.
Ripley’s Aquarium is known for its immersive “Dangerous Reef” exhibit, which features a moving 340-foot-long glidepath that winds visitors through an acrylic tunnel for overhead viewing of snappers, tarpons, grunts, squirrelfish, an endangered green sea turtle, giant stingrays, sawfish and large sharks. At the end of this walkway is a touchpool where you can lean down to feel the amazing stingrays. Still not close enough? Ripley’s also offers a special swimming experience with the rays, including the threatened spotted eagle ray.
While the alligators are undoubtedly the main event – and put on quite a show that is sure to entertain – Alligator Adventure also has several endangered or threatened species in its care, including the red-ruffed lemur and ring-tailed lemur and the Sarus crane.
More than 500 acres of private and carefully preserved wooded property at the Waccatee Zoo house buffalos and zebras roaming grassy plains, as well as big cats like leopards, lions, cougars and tigers. The zoo is also a natural wildlife sanctuary and breeding ground for many species of migratory birds.
For more information on these attractions and other animal encounters, go to www.VisitMyrtleBeach.com.