When it comes to wildlife, Tehachapi has it all, from horses to alpacas to cats. There are a number of rescue organizations, ranches and horse trails for all visitors to explore.

Windswept Ranch Petting Zoo

If you’re into animals, you have to visit Windswept Ranch Petting Zoo, an exotic animal ranch featuring more than 126 animals, including reindeer, camels, zebra, buffalo, yak, emu, guanaco, horses and lots of sheep and goats.

The zoo, which was featured as a bucket list item in Westways Magazine last year, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays from April to October.

Visitors can go on pony rides or camel rides, which are offered on the last Saturday of the month, and can visit the petting zoo. The zoo also offers pony painting on the third Saturday of the month, followed by a parade of the colorful ponies.

Guests can also walk animals through an obstacle course, and if they pass the test, guests will receive a "driver's license."

The zoo offers sunset camel treks, followed by a dinner, by reservation only, and for the first time, Windswept is hosting a Running of the Reindeer event in January, where guests can run alongside the animals, just like the Spaniards do with the bulls.

For more information, visit the zoo’s Facebook page or call 809-3965. Admission is $5. The ranch is located at 11101 Robert Ranch Road, Willow Springs, CA 93560.

Kern Audubon Society Bird Watching

When it comes to bird watching, there is no better place than Tehachapi. The Kern Audubon Society’s Tehachapi sub-chapter has plenty to offer those who take an interest in the activity.

The society holds monthly bird watching field trips, open to the public, on the fourth Saturday of the month. (Things could change due to weather.) The group meets at Burger King, 620 W. Tehachapi Blvd., at 8 a.m., then heads out to explore the great outdoors.

The group has gone to Tehachapi Mountain Park, the lagoons and lakes, Nature Park in Golden Hills and sometimes Bear Valley Springs.

The group also holds quarterly meetings, which are also open to the public. Each meeting features a guest speaker. The group meets once in January, April, August and September at 7 p.m. at Golden Hill Elementary School, 20215 Park Road.

You can find more information on these events in Tehachapi New or by emailing audubontehachapi@yahoo.com.

Feline Conservation Center

The Exotic Feline Breeding Compound’s Feline Conservation Center, also known as the Cat House, is where cat lovers can explore a museum full of wild cat species. It is home to more than 70 of the world's most endangered felines, including leopards and jaguars, according to its website.

The breeding and research facility, located in Rosamond, is dedicated to the protection and preservation of the world's endangered felines.

The compound is open to the public daily from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., with the exception of Wednesdays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and Feline Follies Day, which is Aug. 11 this year.

If you visit, general admission is $10, $8 for seniors and active duty military with ID, $5 for ages 3 to 12 and free for children under age 3.

The museum is located at 3718 60th St. W. in Rosamond. The website says to be careful when using GPS or online maps because 60th Street West does not go through from Rosamond Boulevard. For more information, call 256-3332.


Bear Valley Equestrian Center: Near the Equestrian Center, you’ll find the 50-mile trail system which has trails varying in difficulty from flat meadows to high mountain terrain. The Equestrian Center also offers full-service boarding for its members, a Mare Motel for temporary boarding for members and their guests and a campground with restroom and shower facilities and corrals, says the facility’s website.

There are six arenas available covering many riding disciplines such as dressage, driving, cattle events and jumping. There are also plenty of events held at the Equestrian Center throughout the year. Head to bvsa.org for more information and a schedule.

Pacific Crest Trail: Cameron Road, near Tehachapi Willow Springs

Rescue operations

Have a Heart Humane Society: Have a Heart Humane Society believes each cat and dog deserves a caring home and a safe, healthy environment to live. Its mission is to rescue abandoned, abused and injured animals, provide low-cost vaccinations and spay/neuter programs, educate the greater Tehachapi community about responsible pet ownership, and partner with local organizations to develop and share resources for animal welfare, according to its website. For more information on adopting, volunteering and donating, head to haveahearthumanesociety.org.

Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue: Marley’s Mutts rescues, rehabilitates, trains and re-homes death row dogs from Kern County’s high-kill animal shelters. If you would like to learn more about the nonprofit’s foster program and adoption opportunities, head to marleysmutts.org.

S.T.O.P.: STOP has created a network of foster homes for abandoned pets, has funded and staffed a foster home for adoption animals, cooperates with current government groups, other humane rescue organizations and private rescues, provides educational programs to schools and the community to help reduce pet overpopulation, and rescues stray, abandoned or relinquished animals from the surrounding communities and to rescue animals from Kern County shelters. Call 823-4100 for more information.

Tehachapi Humane Society: This organization reduces pet overpopulation by providing assistance with the cost of the spay or neuter surgery; prevents cruelty to all animals; ensures the humane treatment of all animals; and provides humane educational material on these important issues. For more information, head to tehachapihumanesociety.com.

United Pegasus Foundation: The mission of United Pegasus Foundation is to identify abused and/or neglected horses and help rehabilitate them. Head to unitedpegasus.com for more information.