From Gila monsters to hummingbirds to roadrunners and more, Chandler is home to an abundance of interesting creatures. Thanks to its location in the Sonoran Desert, catching a glimpse of the local wildlife is often as simple as taking a walk through an area park. If you prefer to see animals in a more controlled setting, nearby zoos and wildlife centers offer opportunities to observe native species and a variety of zoo animals, such as giraffes, monkeys, and elephants.
Hummingbird Habitat at Desert Breeze Park
The Hummingbird Habitat at Desert Breeze Park is a public park featuring low-maintenance, colorful landscaping that attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and other wildlife. The habitat’s native plants provide plenty of shade, making it a comfortable place to observe the hummingbirds while learning about the area’s plant life. A decorative iron tree with a bench at its base is located in the park’s center and provides a great spot to bird-watch. Admission is free, and the park opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 11 p.m.
Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center
Located in Scottsdale, about 30 minutes from Chandler, the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center rescues and rehabilitates injured, orphaned, and dislocated animals. After rehabilitation, the animals are returned to the wild. Animals that don’t qualify for release, whether due to their injuries or other circumstances, live out the rest of their lives at the center’s accredited sanctuary. A host of animals live at the center, including black bears, deer, owls, and bobcats.
Southwest Wildlife offers guided tours with reservations required. Daytime, twilight, and full moon tours, each lasting about two hours, present opportunities to observe the animals in different situations. Prices vary according to the type of tour you choose, but kids three and under are free.
Visit Scottsdale’s Butterfly Wonderland, the largest butterfly conservatory in the United States, where you can explore an interactive rainforest habitat housing thousands of butterflies. In addition to the butterfly habitats, the center features an aquarium, a 3D theater, and reptile, honeybee, and spider exhibits. It’s open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Koi feedings happen daily at 9:30 a.m., and a reptile encounter show occurs every Friday at 1 p.m. A cafe is located at the facility if you’d like to stay for lunch.
The Phoenix Zoo, about a 30-minute drive from Chandler, is the largest non-profit privately-owned zoo in the United States. Encompassing 125 acres, the zoo houses over 3,000 animals, including golden eagles, sloths, giraffes, cheetahs, coyotes, and more. To make it easy for guests to tour the grounds, the zoo is organized into four distinct trails: the Arizona, Africa, Tropics, and Children’s Trails.
The Phoenix Zoo provides guests with opportunities that extend beyond touring the grounds and observing the animals. It also offers a story hour for toddlers and preschoolers, horseback riding lessons, and a live, virtual program for groups hosted by a zoo educator. The zoo is open seven days a week, but hours vary throughout the year, so check the website before you go.
Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium and Safari Park
The Wildlife World Zoo is a 45-minute drive from Chandler and houses Arizona’s largest collection of exotic and endangered animals, with over 600 species represented. The complex organizes the animals into different worlds, making it easier to plan your visit. Start your day in Adventureland, a 15-acre exhibit containing North, South, and Central American animals, including cougars, bears, and monkeys. This area of the park also houses 10 rides, including a roller coaster, Australian boat ride, carousel, and safari.
The zoo’s Dragon World contains giant ectotherms, animals that use their environment to regulate their body temperatures, and is home to Arizona’s only saltwater crocodile and white alligator. The 15-acre Safari Park includes an African lion habitat and a savannah where you’ll see African warthogs, cheetahs, and gazelles.
Veterans Oasis Park
Veterans Oasis Park encompasses 113 acres, 78 of which are wetlands or areas designed for groundwater recharge. While Chandler is home to many amazing parks, Veterans Oasis is one of the area’s largest. It serves as a habitat for many Sonoran Desert plants and wildlife and is home to Chandler’s Environmental Education Center.
The park contains 4 miles of walking, biking, and equestrian trails where you’re likely to see native wildlife such as roadrunners, herons, ducks, and rabbits. Fishing is permitted in the park’s 5-acre lake, which is stocked every two weeks from mid-September through June. You’ll have a chance to catch sunfish, rainbow trout, largemouth bass, as well as several other species of fish. An Urban Fishing License is required but not sold on the grounds, so you’ll need to purchase one before you arrive if you plan to fish.
The Environmental Education Center offers educational programs that emphasize science, nature, and the environment. From yoga classes to “Meet the Creatures” exhibits, the center provides a way for people of all ages to connect with the environment. Every spring, the center hosts the City Nature Challenge, a four-day endeavor where cities from around the world compete to see which one’s citizens can make the most observations in nature and find the most species. It’s a fun, unique activity the entire family will enjoy.
San Tan Mountain Regional Park
The San Tan Mountain Regional Park is located 45 minutes from Chandler, encompasses over 10,000 acres, and preserves part of the San Tan Mountains. Over 8 miles of trails, perfect for mountain biking, horseback riding, and hiking, are located within the park. An abundance of wildlife live there, so keep an eye out for javelinas, medium-sized animals that look like wild boars, as well as Gila monsters, and chuckwallas, a species of lizard related to iguanas.We hope our list of places to see wildlife in Chandler helps you plan your next outdoor adventure. If you know of a place we’ve overlooked, please let us know. Just call or email us here at Crème de la Crème of Chandler, and we’ll add it to our list. We’d love to hear from you!