For “Common Ground” (season 5, episode 2), Weekends with Yankee co-host Richard Wiese headed to West Cornwall, Connecticut, to make some new furry friends at Country Quilt Llama Farm. Inspired by his visit, here are nine more New England animal experiences that guarantee an unforgettable up-close encounter. (Note: Since many businesses and attractions are still adjusting their 2021 operations in light of Covid-19, please contact them in advance before making any travel plans.)
Take a walk on the mild side with owner Debbie Labbe’s lineup of gentle llamas. Snoopy, Rio, Cooper, or any of a host of other friendly camelids are your strolling companions as you discover the outdoorsy charms of the Litchfield Hills, notably along the trails at the White Memorial Conservation Center.
See co-host Richard Wiese try his hand at llama walking in episode 502: “Common Ground.”
This unique sanctuary’s one-hour presentations provide an intimate look at its resident gray wolves and how they interact with one another. Shutterbugs should take advantage of Wolf Hollow’s special “photographer’s session,” which lets you go between the two fences that separate the pack from the public in order to get that unobstructed, once-in-a-lifetime wildlife photo.
The 3½-hour “Trainer for a Day” program introduces you to Mystic Aquarium’s famous residents — from beluga whales to California sea lions — as you work side-by-side with the pros and learn what it takes to care for these special creatures.
Go behind the scenes of Mystic Aquarium’s “Trainer for a Day” in episode 403: “Walk on the Wild Side.”
Master falconer Nancy Cowan has turned what began as her husband’s hobby into one of the few licensed falconry schools in the world. Among the workshops, demonstrations, and walks on offer, the popular two-hour introductory class will have you learning to handle a peregrine falcon and experiencing the thrill of experiencing a Harris’s hawk flying to and from your gloved hand.
More than 30 species of injured or orphaned wildlife that can’t be returned to their natural habitat make their home at this unique park. Which means you’re almost certain to get a rare close-up look at animals such as moose, red-tailed hawks, and black bears.
Tag along on a trip to the Maine Wildlife Park in episode 403: “Walk on the Wild Side.”
Get a new appreciation for Audubon’s success in rebuilding the puffin colony on Maine’s Eastern Egg Rock. Audubon naturalists provide narration on tours by two local operators, Hardy Boat Cruises and Cap’n Fish’s Cruises, that highlight the history of these adorable creatures and the work that it took to bring them back from near extinction. In addition to viewing the puffin colony, you’ll take in other notable sights from the water, including lighthouses, seabirds, and possibly even a whale.
Meet the Audubon researcher who almost single-handedly returned puffins to Maine in episode 301: “Adventure.”
Easy to ride, the Icelandic horse is a shaggy breed known for its good nature and small stature. It was bred to carry riders over challenging terrain, and at this farm and inn, horse lovers can choose from rides of varying lengths, from hourlong jaunts to multiday excursions, that take them into the heart of Vermont’s Mad River Valley.
This Casco Bay tour serves up an overview of the daily routines of a real Maine lobsterman. In addition to learning all about lobsters, you can help haul, bait, and set traps — and perhaps even catch your dinner. Plus, along the way you can enjoy sights ranging from lighthouses to Civil War forts.
Goat yoga really is a thing — and it is said to have gotten its start right here in New Hampshire, at Jenness Farm. Who’s to say if you’ll be able to follow your breath, but we can guarantee you’ll be paired with an adorable exercise buddy as you navigate child’s pose. Afterward, explore the farm store, stocked with more than 80 types of fragrant goat-milk soaps and other body-care products, made on-site.