Story by Katheryn Reed
If you grew up watching Disney movies, you might have a somewhat skewed perception of the wilderness (among other things, of course). In these cartoon versions of the world, flora and fauna burst forth vibrantly and happily from every square inch of screen. Fawns frolic with rabbits and bluebirds can always be counted on to help tie your scarf or arrange your hair. But in the real world, wildlife spotting is a rather more complicated affair. Moose don’t wait patiently by the side of the road while you adjust the settings on your camera phone and owls don’t just cock their heads wisely while you dig out your selfie stick. As Cat Stevens once crooned, “Baby, it’s a wild world.” And even woodland creatures have places to be.
Fortunately, there are some places where you can always spot critters. We’ve rounded up 10 locations where you’re guaranteed to find beasties of all shapes and sizes. Sure, they may no longer fall under the category of living things (if they ever did) but they’re still majestic to behold. Plus, with animals this stationary, you can always document the encounter in old-school style – just be sure to remember your sketchbook.
45 Searsport Ave, Belfast. 207-338-1630. perrysnuthouse.comThere are plenty of reasons to stop at Perry’s, a roadside gift shop that boasts a cornucopia of sweet treats, nutty delectables, and goofy gifts. But our favorite part of the quirky shop is the aptly named (and oddly distinguished) Aperaham, a giant taxidermy gorilla that greets visitors upon arrival.
100 Cabela’s Blvd., Scarborough. 207-883-7400. cabelas.com
If you’re looking to save some dough, you can nix your national road trip plans and head to this outdoor outfitter instead. They’ve got hundreds of pieces of taxidermy grouped according to their natural habitats. You can “travel” from lowlands, where moose graze and trout swim, up to the high peaks, where you’ll find bighorn sheep and other mountain jumpers.
419 U.S. Route 1, Scarborough. 207-883-4897. lenlibby.com
Maybe dead things aren’t your jam. Maybe you prefer your animals sweet rather than stuffed. If that’s the case, you’ll like Lenny, the life-size chocolate moose. Made of 1,700 pounds of milk chocolate, he’s been pooping out edible moose droppings since he was sculpted in 1997.
132 Botanical Gardens Dr., Boothbay. 207-633-8000. mainegardens.org
With over 250 acres of manicured gardens, this waterfront spot is beautiful year-round (yes, even in the winter) but for the ultimate experience, visit in the dog days of summer. Meander down the winding trials and keep your eyes out for floating fish sculptures, carved wooden birds, and various other wild things peaking out from between the trees.
1001 Westbrook St, Portland. wendyklemperer.com
On the rolling green lawn that leads to Portland’s very own international airport prances a graceful deer made of twisted metal by Maine-based sculptor Wendy Klemperer. Look closely while you drive to your next flight and you might also spot a bristly porcupine or a howling wolf.
83 ME-27, Augusta. 207-287-2301. mainestatemuseum.org
If you still don’t know what Dirigo means, it’s time to remedy that with a trip to the state museum. This educational funhouse boasts all sorts of interesting local artifacts, including long-dead representatives from the animal kingdom and special exhibits that celebrate the social, cultural and natural history of Maine.
14 Easler Road, Hinckley. 207-238-4250. gwh.org
From specimens of skulls to mounted animals to live birds twittering in the garden, this museum of natural history has it all. Need a first date idea? We think it would be mighty fun to bring a potential beau to learn about the birds and the bees.
4 Herrick Road, Southwest Harbor. 207-244-7555. wendellgilleymuseum.org
Birders don’t get enough respect for their unique commitment to this avian hobby, but at the Wendell Gilley Museum, bird-lovers are (for once) in the majority. This hidden gem of a museum celebrates the work of sculptor Wendell Gilley while also featuring rotating exhibitions of local artists, including the famous illustrator Ashley Bryan.
U.S./Canadian border, Van Buren. vanburenmaine.com
If you’re looking to reignite your state pride, head up north to Van Buren, where you’ll find a humorously symbolic tribute to Maine. The 10.5-foot-tall moose sculpture sits on the border between the U.S. and Canada, welcoming our neighbors to the north with its comically majestic shape. The piece, created by artist Glenn Hines, cheekily incorporates every official emblem of the state, from coon cats to chickadees.
95 Main St., Freeport. llbean.com
The L.L.Bean flagship store in Freeport is a must-see Maine attraction for many reasons – no visit to the Pine Tree State is complete without a souvenir flannel or two – but we love visiting their menagerie of stuffed mammals. From snowshoe hares to mounted moose heads to rangy bobcats, there are plenty of wild creatures peeking from the plethora of great products.