Do humans rule the world? Nah. You might think so living in a city full of people with spectacular man-made structures. But once you step in an area with a human population trumped by the great numbers of animals, then you’d know that the world isn’t only meant for us Homo Sapiens but for every living thing. There are places where humans can live in peace with tame animals and there are others which should remain prohibited. Where are these small worlds ruled by our furry friends (or frenemies?) in the kingdom Animalia? Read on to find out.
1. Seal Island, South Africa
A rocky islet on South Africa’s False Bay is populated by approximately 60,000 Cape Fur Seals; thus, the name Seal Island is enough to give you a hint on what’s about to greet you once you land on the island. Besides the adorable seals, you can also witness small populations of Kelp Gulls, Cape Cormorants, and penguins in the island. Go off shore and you’ll see whales, dolphins, and even Bronze Whaler sharks (from February to March) swimming around the waters of False Bay.
2. Monkey Island, Liberia
The island found in Monrovia, Liberia is now known as the real-life monkey island of West Africa due to the over 60 chimpanzees that inhabit the island. The thing is, this island isn’t a setting suitable for a Disney story. The chimpanzees that live here are former lab monkeys for The Liberian Institute of Biomedical Research (Vilab II) which developed treatments for ailments such as Hepatitis during the 1970s. In other words, the monkeys that live here are all infected. It’s not even easy to visit the island because its monkey residents just only allow familiar caretakers to step on the island’s shores.
3. Cat Island, Japan
The purrfect island for the ultimate cat lover! Tashirojima is Japan’s cat paradise located in Ishinomaki, Miyagi in the Pacific Ocean off the Oshika Peninsula, west of Ajishima. Humans do inhabit the island but the cat population is just unbeatable, even by dogs who are known to be prohibited from the island. Besides cat tourism, the island of Tashirojima is also involved in fishing and hospitality.
4. Rabbit Island, Japan
Okunoshima – again from Japan – is a small island that was once a poison gas factory that played a key role during the World War II. After the war ended, the rabbits were said to be freed and the other rabbits used for chemical weapon tests were killed when the factory was destroyed. These rabbit survivors multiplied until they were able to conquer the island that is now known as “rabbit island”. Okunoshima is located in the inland Sea of Japan in the city of Takehara, Hiroshima Prefecture.
5. Snake Island, Brazil
For those who think snakes are cute, then you better visit Brazil’s Snake Island – in your dreams. Ilha de Queimada Grande, an island off the shore of Brazil, is a restricted island due to valid reasons. This place is a little too much, even if you’re a snake lover since this place is infested with one to five snakes per square meter (unless you want to get killed with too much love). One more biting reason why the island is strictly prohibited from outsiders, except for brave biologists, is the unique species of pit viper, the golden lancehead. These half-a-meter long snakes have venom that can instantly melt your flesh around their bites. You’re all welcome.
6. Fox Village, Japan
And Japan for the third time, enters the list of must-visit animal havens. A fox village called Zao Fox Village is home of six different species of fox, with a fox population of over a hundred. The village located in Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture gives visitors a chance to pet, hold, and feed the tame foxes which just roam freely around an area in the village. In Japan, foxes are considered to be messengers of the Shinto deity Inari Okami, the god of fertility, prosperity, and rice.
7. Assateague Island, Maryland, USA
The feral horses known as the Assateague horses inhabit the 60-kilometer long barrier island called Assateague island, located off the eastern coast of Delmarva in Maryland. In Virginia however, these feral horses are called Chincoteague ponies which can be sometimes an arguable topic because the animal’s characteristics fit it to be described as either a pony or a horse. You can visit and watch the Annual Pony Penning Day in Assateague Island.
8. Crab Island, Christmas Island
The small Christmas Island isn’t so small that it can’t accommodate about 40 – 50 million of Christmas Island Red Crabs hidden in every square meter of soil or in deep crevices of rock outcrops. If you want to see them, you can wait for the great migration of red crabs that starts during the wet season in the months of October or November. This migration can last up to 18 days. Although they are the most-seen crab group on the island, there are 13 other species of land crabs found on Christmas Island.
9. Pig Beach, Bahamas
An uninhabited island ruled by pigs doesn’t sound bad at all. Pig Beach, officially known as Big Major Cay is located in Exuman, the Bahamas and no one knows for sure how these swimming feral pigs ended up in this island. Stories theorized that these pigs were dropped off by sailors for a good night’s dinner but the group wasn’t able to come back. Some said the pigs came swimming from another island. Some said they’re shipwreck survivors and some said they’re just another tourism business scheme. Whatever the origin of these pigs is, what matters is the sight of swimming pigs right in front of your eyes is something you cannot unsee.
10. Royal Penguin Island, Australia
Grab something to squeeze as a massive crowd of royal penguins greet you on Macquarie Island, an island in the southwest Pacific Ocean, found between New Zealand and Antarctica. Besides the cute royal penguins, the UNESCO-certified island is considered special because it is the only place in the Pacific Ocean where rocks from the mantle are actively exposed at sea level. If you want to see the greatest concentration of royal penguins, head to Lusitania Bay on the east coast of the island.
11. Stingray City, Cayman Islands
Stingray City is a series of shallow sandbars located in the North Sound of Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. Stingrays began to gather decades ago when fish guts and squid were available, all thrown by fishermen who cleaned their fish around the area. Now, the place is a tourist attraction where people can get close, pet, and swim with the southern stingrays.