I’m quickly discovering that Québec’s wildlife tends towards the ubiquitous, big (!) and très accessible. In the past two weeks I’ve been lucky enough to meet so many of the animals that populate Canada’s biggest province, from giant whales to awesome wolf cubs. Every experience with animals offers a new appreciation for this place and what makes it different from everywhere else. The point is: Québec is still very wild–so wild you can feel it, see it, and in certain cases, even touch it!

You can encounter spectacular wildlife throughout Québec, but for an easily-accessible and child-friendly wildlife encounter, I recommend two specific places on either end of the bright blue Saguenay Fjord.

  • Ferme 5 Étoiles is a campground and wildlife farm just ten minutes from Tadoussac, right next to Saguenay Fjord National Park. Families can camp or stay in the chalets and interact with some of Québec’s greatest creatures: everything from the baby moose and deer to the raccoon, wolves, and (recently) cougars. These are mostly rescued animals that are all being well cared-for. Once you’re done with the land creatures, take a kayak out on the fjord for some one-on-one with the beluga whales.
  • Le Zoo Sauvage de St. Felicien is on the far shore of Lac St. Jean. Instead of keeping animals in cages, it’s the people that stay inside the cages (even a caged train) in order to access the wide open wilderness spaces that are alive with animals. In addition to deer, moose and mountain goats, several black bear roam undisturbed–this is by far the closest I’ve been to a “wild” black bear. The zoo also has a very popular polar bear aquarium, allowing children to get within inches of the furry white giants.
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Face to face with a gray wolf in Québec (Andrew Evans, National Geographic)