S. Fish and Wildlife Service, our National Wildlife Refuge system is the world's best collection of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America's fish, wildlife, and plants. Since President Theodore Roosevelt designated Florida's Pelican Island as the first wildlife refuge in 1903, the refuge system has grown to more than 150 million acres, 556 national
wildlife refuges and other units, plus 38 wetland management districts. Love the call of the wild? Unless you
have lots of free time to camp out in the hinterlands and stalk the inhabitants, your chances of having face-to-face encounters with wild animals are about as good as having a beer with Bigfoot. The next best thing is visiting a wildlife sanctuary or refuge, where you can get reasonably (and safely) close to some of the most beautiful, exotic, and often the most endangered species on the planet. And by including a sanctuary destination in your travel plans, you can support the efforts of these nonprofit organizations that work to save animals from cruelty, neglect, and even extinction.