The World’s Most Fascinating Animals And Where To Find Them

It’s a great big world out there, and each region has their own critters native to them. It’s not just during safaris that you can spot some really cool animals. The entire world is filled with fascinating animals, big and small, man-fearing and fear-inducing.

Let’s take a quick trip around the world to see where you find some of the most interesting animals, and learn why they aren’t found just anywhere.

Monarch Butterflies: Mexico

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Photo Credit: Sylvain CORDIER/Gamma-Rapho/ Getty Images
Photo Credit: Sylvain CORDIER/Gamma-Rapho/ Getty Images

These beautiful butterflies flood Mexico yearly, in millions or even billions at a time. They arrive in Mexico in time for winter in such high numbers that visitors notice tree branches bending from their weight.

Penguins: Chile

penguin mates
Photo Credit: VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/AFP/ Getty Images
Photo Credit: VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/AFP/ Getty Images

Penguins should be used as an example of the perfect romantic partner. Male penguins search through piles of pebbles for the perfect rock to give to their favorite female. Sometimes they even fight over the rocks they want to give to their seasonal partner.

Komodo Dragon: Indonesia

komodo dragon
Photo Credit: BAY ISMOYO/AFP/ Getty Images
Photo Credit: BAY ISMOYO/AFP/ Getty Images

Meet the world’s largest and most dangerous lizards. This carnivorous creature lives on Indonesia’s islands. They can be visited at their national parks via luxurious sailboats and cruise ships all year round.

Leatherback Turtle Hatchlings: Trinidad

turtle
Photo Credit: Mark Conlin/VW PICS/UIG/ Getty Images
Photo Credit: Mark Conlin/VW PICS/UIG/ Getty Images

These turtles may look small, but they are actually the world’s largest and can weigh up to 1,000 pounds and reach almost eight feet in length! The best time to catch them is between March and August as they travel the shores of Trinidad to nest.

Orangutan: Borneo and Sumatra

orangutan
Photo Credit: Dimas Ardian/ Getty Images
Photo Credit: Dimas Ardian/ Getty Images

There is a legend in Indonesia that this animal could once speak but became silent once humans began to enter the forest out of fear of being enslaved. In the Malay language, they are still called “people of the forest.”

Bengal Tiger: India, Nepal China

bengal tiger
Photo Credit: Jefri Tarigan/Anadolu Agency/ Getty Images
Photo Credit: Jefri Tarigan/Anadolu Agency/ Getty Images

This tiger holds a special meaning within each of its locations. In China, tigers represent loyalty. In Hindu culture, the goddess Durga is often portrayed riding a tiger. In Naga tribes, it is believed that men and tigers are brothers.

Killer Whales: Canada

killer whale
Photo Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/ Getty Images
Photo Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/ Getty Images

In Johnstone Strait, a narrow channel between Vancouver and British Columbia, you can take part in kayak camping trips that take you to the areas where this marine life is most visible. The best time to do this is in the summertime.

Pandas: China

panda waving
Photo Credit: MOHD RASFAN/AFP/ Getty Images
Photo Credit: MOHD RASFAN/AFP/ Getty Images

This adorable creature is best found in the Minshan Mountains of China, an area far away from the city. Its excess of bamboo offers a good environment for the 720 pandas that live there. That number actually makes up about 45% of the wildlife population.

Narwhal: Arctic Waters

narwhal
Photo Credit: David Fleetham/VW PICS/Universal Images Group/ Getty Images
Photo Credit: David Fleetham/VW PICS/Universal Images Group/ Getty Images

This unicorn-looking wale is known for its long horn that can measure a whole nine feet in length for males. The funny part is the horn, which is actually a tooth, has no known purpose. This doesn’t stop the males from using it as a fencing sword to impress the ladies.

Iguanas: Ecuador

Iguana
Photo Credit: Joe Raedle/ Getty Images
Photo Credit: Joe Raedle/ Getty Images

Iguanas love the heat. Not only do they prefer to bask in 90-degree Fahrenheit weather, but they also need the sun’s UV light to make vitamin D in their skin. This allows them to absorb calcium as a food source.

Pygmy Marmosets: Peru

smallest monkeys
Photo Credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

The world’s tiniest monkey has babies so tiny they barely even weigh half an ounce. You can basically have two of them on one finger. Peak birthing seasons occur between May and June, then from November to January.

Giant Anteater: Brazil

Giant anteater
Photo Credit: Gilles MARTIN/Gamma-Rapho/ Getty Images
Photo Credit: Gilles MARTIN/Gamma-Rapho/ Getty Images

This animal has a very specific job. As its name suggests, it specializes in eating huge quantities of ants and termites, sometimes up to 35,000 per day. In size, they’re about the same size as golden retrievers.

Macaw: Peru

Macaws
Photo Credit: Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket/ Getty Images
Photo Credit: Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket/ Getty Images

These eye-pleasing birds use their red, green, gold, and blue feathers to show off daily at the waterfront of the Madre de Dios River in easter Peru. You can take a boat up to the Manu Biosphere Reserve to feast your eyes on these colorful characters.

Jackson’s Chameleon: Kenya

Jackson's chameleon
Photo Credit: MyLoupe/UIG/ Getty Images
Photo Credit: MyLoupe/UIG/ Getty Images

The coolest fact about chameleons is their ability to change color to avoid being seen by predators. Chameleons also have a projectile tongue that moves one hundred times faster than the rest of their body, largely because they tend to move in slow motion.

Aye-Aye: Madagascar

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Photo Credit: Sylvain CORDIER/Gamma-Rapho/ Getty Images
Photo Credit: Sylvain CORDIER/Gamma-Rapho/ Getty Images

This is the rarest of the lemur species despite its big eyes, bat ears, and creepy long fingers that they use to search for food. Madagascar’s natives believe the Aye-Aye harbors bad luck.

Sea Turtles: Hawaii

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Photo Credit: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

There’s no better environment for these green sea turtles than the volcanic waters by Molokai’s south coast in Hawaii. The clear, warm and shallow waters are equally great for snorkellers and scuba divers.

Magnificent Frigate Bird: America

Magnificent Frigate Bird
Photo Credit: Wild Horizons/Universal Images Group/ Getty Images
Photo Credit: Wild Horizons/Universal Images Group/ Getty Images

The red balloon at the front is called a gular sac that covers the male’s throat and chest. It inflates during mating season to huge proportions to attract potential mates. However, it prevents them from flying, so instead, they hang out in tree branches and rocks hoping to be noticed by waving their wings around.

Snow Monkeys: Japan

snow monkeys in japan
Photo Credit: Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

Also called the Japanese Macaques, these monkeys love to simply relax in natural hot spring baths. The Jigokudani Monkey Park in Japan allows visitors to get up close and personal with the monkeys who just ignore them to play with each other.

Ring-Tailed Lemurs: Madagascar

ring tailed lemurs
Photo Credit: BERND WUSTNECK/AFP/GettyImages
Photo Credit: BERND WUSTNECK/AFP/GettyImages

There is a reason the word “tail” is included in their name. The ring-tailed lemur’s tail is longer than their body! Males use glands in their bottoms to put smells on the tail and wag it at their rivals, known as “stink fighting.”

Atiu Swiftlets: Cook Islands

swiftlets
Photo Credit: YE AUNG THU/AFP/ Getty Images
Photo Credit: YE AUNG THU/AFP/ Getty Images

There aren’t many of these birds left now, with only about 500 remaining today. However, tour operators on the Cook Islands offer excursions to see these bat-like birds hanging within the pitch-black Anatakitaki Kopeka Cave.