Even if you just like to be surrounded by images of animals (which sounds weird), Manchester is full of great places you can look at / stroke / be near as many animals as you like.
We’ll start with the most obvious…the Cat Cafe in the Northern Quarter. Even if you’re a bit like me and fur makes you sneeze, they even have little baskets in the windows so you don’t have to endure hairs on your clothes. However, if you aren’t a freak, go in and get a coffee and a cake and play with all the lovely cats.
Cat Cafe Manchester, 103 High St, Manchester, M4 1HQ
Head down to Ashton to pet some llamas and feed some goats, plus there’s an aquarium there too. It might probably be for children, but if llamas are involved all logic goes out the window. You can even do a bit of small animal handling including getting your hands on some cute prickly hedgehogs and they even have the odd snake knocking about.
Sea Life Centre
Are things that live in the ocean your thing but you don’t want to actually go in the sea? Then visit the Sealife Centre near the Trafford Centre instead! Plus, when you feast your eyes on the Spider Crabs, you definitely won’t want to dip your toes in a body of water any time soon.
Sea Life Manchester, Barton Square Bridge, Stretford, Manchester M17 8AS
0871 222 7741
Volunteer at Manchester Animal Shelter
Dreams do come true so why not work with animal’s day-in, day-out or provide inhouse care for kittens. If you can commit two hours of your time a day, get in touch with the dedicated team of hardworking professionals and you’ll be in animal heaven.
The Garden House
Did you know there was a free hidden farm in the form of The Garden House in Marple where you can go and play with animals as much as you like, for no cost at all? So, you can come and spend the day with Alpacas, Shetland Ponies, pigs, goats, sheep and the odd strutting cockerel.
The Garden House, Lakes Rd, Marple, Marple Bridge, Stockport SK6 7DH
0161 427 8712
Animal Centre at Heaton Park
As well as all the farm animals you get in the places listed above, Heaton Park’s Animal Centre has some pretty impressive Highland Cattle, Shorthorned Cattle (in the same field as the donkeys and horses) and you might even spot a peacock or two roaming the grounds. Watch your fingers with the geese though!
Manchester and Cheshire Dogs’ Home
Give a dog a chance by visiting this local dog’s home, take them for walks, donate and even adopt one if that’s right for you! It’s satisfying enough just giving an hour or two to make a shelter animal happy, giving something back to the many poor little sods that they get through their doors.
Hang out with some adorable dogs at this brilliant day care centre while you have some lunch with a load of slobbering, cute hounds. Central Bark is basically a cafe / care centre for dogs, and they admit that it’s a place where every dog loves to go. If you love dogs – you’ll want to go here too!
The Beach Dog Cafe, Coldfield Drive, Manchester, Wythenshawe M23 9GG
The big daddy of places to see the animals – it’s a bit of a trek to get there from Manchester but once you do, you’re going to see all of your favourites – elephants, giraffe, those little meerkats and anything else you can think of. Highlight must be the bat house – where it’s proper dark and the bats just fly around willy-nilly. Brilliant.
Not many people know this but inside the Manchester Museum is a brilliant little Vivarium which houses a collection of rare frogs, reptiles and amphibians including the famous Lemur Leaf Frog (that one with the big eyes). They also have a big collection of stuffed animals too so if you’re a little bit too scared of the real thing – check the fake stuff out.