Looking for Wildlife on the Gulf Coast

Sometimes it takes a child to remind you of what’s really important during a vacation—like building sandcastles on the beach instead of working on your tan, or even leaving the beach altogether to go in search of some Gulf Coast animal life.

This was my experience during a recent family vacation in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach. My young niece recruited me time and again for activities like sandcastle building, seashell hunting, and seagull chasing. And it was this last excursion that led to her most brilliant idea: let’s go look for bears and tigers.

Thanks to the variety of Gulf Shores nature attractions, that’s exactly what we did. Of course we had to take her to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, where she got to see the bears and tigers—plus much more. She was completely thrilled at getting to hold a baby tiger, thanks to the zoo’s tiger encounter experience. But her favorite exhibits were the reptile house and the aviary.

So it only made sense to also take her Alligator Alley (with more than 150 alligators) and the Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuary—lots of opportunity for bird-spotting there. And we didn’t have time for this during that last vacation, but next time I’d like to take her on a dolphin tour via an Orange Beach cruise.