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Wildlife Online Trends Report

We've looked at which destinations and animals are trending online in our new wildlife report.

 
Animals and their habitat are a source of constant fascination for travelers, with many people's bucket lists including special wildlife trips such as trekking with gorillas, an African safari, or whale watching.

Our wildlife vacations include tours all over the world, from the polar regions to the Galapagos, Costa Rica to Iceland. A wildlife adventure isn't just restricted to seeing elephants or tigers; they offer an incredible variety of experiences, with different countries offering beautifully diverse environments for animal spotting – whether it's Highland lakes in Europe, grasslands in Asia, coastlines in Africa, or dense jungle in South America.

We were curious to delve into the wildlife trends that are inspiring travelers around the world at the moment, and we turned to online data to discover which animals and destinations are currently most popular.

Report Contents
  1. Most Popular Wildlife Destinations on Social Media
    By analyzing hashtag data from TikTok and Instagram, our report reveals the countries and U.S. states whose wildlife photos are snapped and shared the most on social media.
  2. The Animals The World Wants To See
    We've taken a deep dive into Google search data from all around the world to reveal which exotic animals people in different countries want to see the most.
  3. Explore’s Expert Wildlife Tips
    Our tour guides and animal experts share their special travel tips that will make your wildlife adventure truly special.

 

The Most Popular Wildlife Destinations on Social Media

Looking at global social media data, our study revealed that Canada is the country that has been tagged and viewed the most in wildlife content on Instagram and TikTok, followed by Australia, the US, South Africa, and Brazil.

1. Canada

With a rich selection of beautiful wildlife habitats, including coastal, mountain, lake, and forest landscapes, Canada comes out as social media's most popular wildlife destination. Some of the most iconic animals found in the "Great White North" include beavers, caribou, killer whales, and grizzly bears, much of which can be seen on a trip to the Canadian Rockies, but Instagram users are using the platform to showcase all of Canada's incredible wildlife both big and small. Over 190,000 Instagram posts are tagged with #canadawildlife or #canadianwildlife, and they include incredible snaps of everything from the humble hooded merganser duck to icy-eyed mountain lions.

2. Australia

There are well over 150 million views of TikTok videos tagged with #australiawildlife, and nearly 450,000 Instagram posts with the same hashtag, making Australia the second most popular wildlife destination on social media. With a world-famous coral reef, vast outback deserts, and paradise beaches, Australia's dramatic habitats are home to many weird and wonderful animals such as platypuses, echidnas, and quokkas. Social media users particularly like to share pictures of Australia's cuddly and cute koalas, alongside dramatic photos of creepy crawlies such as the peacock spider and the diamond python.

3. United Kingdom

There are just over half a million Instagram posts tagged with #wildlifeinbritain, and TikTok videos with the hashtag have clocked up millions of views. Although the British Isles are relatively small, their wildlife habitats are extraordinarily rich and diverse, from quaint farmland and rugged cliffs to sandy shores and dense woodland. Although it's home to larger wildlife such as deer, otters, seals, dolphins, and foxes, social media users are showing off Britain's incredible variety of birdlife, with lots of posts of barn owls, blue tits, and kingfishers, much of which can be seen on a tour of Scotland’s Orkney Islands.

4. South Africa

With over 14 million collective views and posts on TikTok and Instagram for content tagged with #southafricawildlife, South Africa comes out as social media's fourth most popular wildlife destination. A wildlife adventure in South Africa could include anything from aardvark spotting to spying great white sharks; the place is home to elephants, leopards, penguins, and more. On social media, South Africa's wildlife posts showcase everything from playful baby lions to serene flamingos.

5. Brazil

Landing in fifth place in social media's favorite wildlife countries is Brazil. Instagram shows stunning wildlife photography of Brazil's birds, including peacocks, macaws, and toucans. Leopards also heavily feature in Brazil's social media wildlife content, alongside exotic ocelots and black lion tamarins.

 
For our study, we summed the count of relevant destination + wildlife hashtags (for example #canadianwildlife #canadawildlife) on Instagram and the number of views of videos with those hashtags on TikTok, for 184 different countries around the world, and the 50 states in the US.

 

Social Media's 20 Most Popular Countries for Wildlife Content

 

Rank Country TikTok and Instagram Wildlife Hashtag Post and View Total
1 Canada 203,392,682
2 Australia 157,460,607
3 United Kingdom 68,490,337
4 South Africa 14,746,866
5 Brazil 9,939,969
6 Scotland 9,876,800
7 Costa Rica 7,269,472
8 Nepal 4,702,481
9 Ethiopia 4,242,658
10 England 3,514,787
11 Palestine 3,300,386
12 Kenya 2,942,376
13 New Zealand 1,132,082
14 India 980,239
15 Ireland 942,509
16 Qatar 832,796
17 Sri Lanka 675,874
18 United States 419,725
19 Namibia 417,744
20 Singapore 359,968

We ran the same process for different states in the US, to see which national locations are most popular for wildlife on social media. Florida came out as the most popular US state for wildlife, according to posts and views on social media, followed by Alaska, Texas, Ohio, and Colorado.

1. Florida

The wildlife content for Florida on social media involves plenty of water habitats, from alligators in the Everglades to flamingos on the coast and the state's famous manatees spotted in national park springs. Birds also feature heavily on Instagram for Florida with snaps of great horned owls, colorful painted buntings, and belted kingfishers. There are plenty of mammals to spot on land too, including raccoons, otters, and white-tailed deer – it's no wonder that Florida comes out as a major wildlife destination within the US.

2. Alaska

Another hugely popular state within the US for wildlife is Alaska, which comes in as the second most popular wildlife state on social media. Animal lovers travel huge distances to experience a wildlife tour of Alaska, hoping to see bears, moose, caribou, and marine mammals such as orcas and humpback whales. Instagram content for Alaskan wildlife heavily features polar bears, which are spotted in the wild along the state's north coast and Arctic Ocean.

3. Texas

Texas has a variety of wildlife habitats, ranging from marshes, lakes, and rivers through to valleys, mountains, and deserts. The state is home to dramatic predators including ocelots, cougars, and snakes, as well as curious critters such as pocket gophers, armadillos, and porcupines. There are over 12 million views and posts of Texan wildlife content on social media, with many posts and videos showcasing the bird life in this state, which includes wood ducks, northern cardinals, and white ibis.

4. Ohio

The Buckeye State is the fourth most popular state in the US for wildlife content on social media, with over 12 million views and posts. The state boasts four types of wildlife habitats: forests, prairies, wetlands, and the Great Lakes. Ohio's most common mammals include squirrels, raccoons, and deer, but Instagram posts frequently show bats, skunks, and saw-whet owls.

5. Colorado

The official animal of the Centennial State is the bighorn sheep, but they can be tricky for wildlife lovers to find as they prefer to scale tops of the Rocky Mountains. Social media showcases Colorado's cute pika rabbit, red fox, moose, and bald eagles. 

 

Social Media's 20 Most Popular US States for Wildlife Content

 

 
Rank US State TikTok and Instagram Wildlife Hashtag Post and View Total
1 Florida 90,719,996
2 Alaska 15,666,563
3 Texas 12,286,492
4 Ohio 12,131,865
5 Colorado 6,717,124
6 Wyoming 5,165,288
7 New York 4,907,537
8 Arizona 2,535,132
9 Virginia 2,136,012
10 Arkansas 2,107,466
11 Michigan 1,629,691
12 Pennsylvania 823,143
13 Oklahoma 796,548
14 Maine 741,252
15 Washington 581,645
16 Tennessee 490,009
17 California 405,452
18 Louisiana 367,613
19 Utah 298,660
20 Oregon 280,659

 

The Animals the World Wants to See

Working with expert data analysts, we studied the last 12 months of Google data in over 180 different countries to find out which animals are being Googled the most for phrases like '[animal] + safari' or 'how to see [animal name]'. We compared these kinds of Google searches for 170 animals, in the world's different languages, to reveal the animal that each country wants to see the most.

 

 

Asia

While some continents have a preference towards a certain animal, the world map shows that Asian countries have a real mix of different animals that people are keen to see in real life. Cats come out on top in Japan and Singapore, with pandas (Indonesia), bears (South Korea), and seals (UAE) also proving popular. People in Sri Lanka are most keen to see whales, whereas those in the Maldives are excited to see manta rays. Leopards are the animals people in Vietnam want to see the most, whereas Malaysia's favorite animal is the elephant. Tigers are the animals people in Myanmar and Papua New Guinea want to see the most; tigers live in the wild in Myanmar, it's one of 13 countries in mainland Asia where tigers are native. There are no tigers on Papua New Guinea, but rumors persist of sightings of the extinct Tasmanian tiger (which was actually a marsupial, with four legs and tiger-like markings on its back). 

Europe

In Europe, whale and dolphin watching come out high on the continent's wildlife wish list, being the animals the UK, Portugal, Norway, Spain, and Italy want to see the most. Whale and dolphin spotting opportunities are rich in Europe; sei whales, minke whales, and fin whales, as well as Atlantic spotted dolphins and Risso's dolphins can all be spotted from a boat on a voyage to the uninhabited Desertas Islands (an experience included in our Madeira Island Discovery tour). In colder waters, Norway whale excursions present the opportunity to see sperm whales, orcas, and even humpback whales. Meanwhile, Germans and Swedes are more interested in seeing elk; some elk have made their way back to Germany with sightings in Brandenburg, but they are usually found in Scandinavia, Poland, and the Czech Republic. There are some animals hailing from other exotic continents which Europeans want to see, including hippos (France), gorillas (Northern Ireland), and zebras (Iceland).

Africa

In the majority (16) of African countries shown on the world map, hippopotamuses come out as the animal most people are keen to see in the wild – topping the tables in Cote d’Ivoire, C.A.R. and Senegal. Whilst many people long to see the exotic animals found on the African continent, such as lions and zebras, it seems people in some African countries aren’t as interested in native species, and instead want to see wildlife native to other continents. In close second to hippos, topping the tables in 15 African countries, is the tiger. Tigers are not native to the African continent, but are the favorite animal to see according to Google searches made in Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Zambia, the Seychelles and Kenya. South Africans are interested in seeing gorillas, which are native to the tropical forests of equatorial Africa and divided into two main species, western gorillas and eastern gorillas.  

South America

South America is one of the richest biodiverse continents; it’s thought to be home to around 17,500 different species. However, inhabitants of South American countries have a firm favorite when it comes to animal spotting. Whale safaris and ‘how to see whales’ have the biggest number of Google searches in seven South American countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Venezuela. There is a real continental interest in oceanic wildlife, with penguins coming out as the animal people from Peru and the Falkland Islands most want to see. South America is actually home to a number of different penguins, including the Galapagos penguin, the Humboldt penguin (which is found off the coast of Peru and Chile), the Magellanic penguin and the bright yellow crested Macaroni penguin. In Argentina, wild horses are the most popular animal to see. 

Oceania

In New Zealand, dolphins are the most popular animal to see according to Google - although monkeys come in second place. In the Pacific Islands, Fiji’s most Googled animal to see is a manta ray. The animal Australians are most excited to see in real life are monkeys. There are no native monkeys in Australia and the nearest country to see them would be Indonesia. In Indonesia, wildlife lovers can find lots of different monkeys, including macaques, gibbons, Javan surili and Miller’s langur.  People in Australia are also keen to see gorillas (which are apes, not monkeys) as well as crocodiles and tigers.

North America

Overall, tigers rule in the United States, but some states prefer different animals, which are highlighted in our map below. While there are a number of tiger sanctuaries in the USA, wildlife enthusiasts can spot them in their natural habitat in places like Ranthambore National Park, Tadoba National Park, and Jim Corbett National Park, all in India. Outside of India, some fantastic places to see wild tigers are the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan and Chitwan National Park in Nepal.
Elsewhere in North America, Canadians might have polar bears and whales on their doorstep, but they are most interested in seeing lions. Like the USA, Mexico is enamored with tigers, while Costa Ricans want to see penguins more than any other animal. 

 
Using the same methodology, comparing search volumes for 170 animals in 50 different US states, we discovered which animal each state was most interested in seeing in real life.
 

 

 



USA
Tiger safaris and ‘how to see tigers’ have the biggest number of Google searches in 39 of the 50 states in the USA, including Texas, California, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. The second most popular animal to see in over 20 states are lions, making the USA a big, big-cat lover. While there are lion safaris in the USA, wildlife enthusiasts who want to see lions in their natural habitat will enjoy an African safari experience. Lions are found in sub-Saharan Africa, with most of the continent’s lion population spread over national parks and reserves in Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. 

In six western US states (Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico) the most popular animal to see is the camel. While camel tours are popular in Las Vegas and the Nevada deserts, wild camels have been extinct in North America for thousands of years. The majority of the world’s camel population (which is nearly 20 million) is domesticated. Wild camels are only found in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia and are critically endangered with a population of just 1,100.

People in Montana, Maine, and New Hampshire are most interested in seeing moose. Moose are the second most popular animals for people in Alaska, Wyoming, Vermont, and Massachusetts. Some of the best national parks in the USA for spotting moose include Yellowstone National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Denali National Park in Alaska. Moose are crepuscular, meaning they are at their most active at dawn and twilight, and you’re most likely to spot them in the spring months as they move across bogs and wetlands. If you’re looking for a snowy backdrop for your moose encounter, then try Anchorage in Alaska in winter; moose numbers tend to increase in the winter here as they seek out greenery to eat at lower elevations. 

Data sources: Google Keyword Planner, Instagram and TikTok. All data correct as of February 2023. For countries which do not specify a most popular animal, there was not enough Google data to make an accurate assumption. 

Please note: Explore will never knowingly compromise the welfare of any animal for the purpose of our trips. You can read our Animal Protection Policy to find out more about our stance on animal welfare. 


 

Explore’s Expert Wildlife Tips

We asked our tour experts to share their advice and knowledge on where to find their favorite wild animals enjoying their natural habitats:
   
Baboons – Baboons have become part of the urban wildlife scene in the Cape Town area; while they sleep and breed in the sandstone rocks of the beach cliffs and mountain crags surrounding the area, they take advantage of food waste and fruit trees found in the residential neighborhoods. 

Bald Eagles - Our Western Canada Adventure is a great trip for people who want to see Bald Eagles. It starts in Banff National Park and ends at Pacific Rim National Park, where whale spotting boat trips provide further opportunities for eagle spotting.

Bird watching - Plettenberg Bay is a seaside town on South Africa’s Garden route, and in its marine park, it’s possible to spot many birds including herons, kingfishers, African fish eagles, and Knysna warblers. On some days, it’s even possible to see dolphins and seals.

Black Bear – While the Rocky Mountains are also a great place to see black bears, the best place for black bear spotting is on Vancouver Island, which offers a special bear watching tour.

Camels – Visit the town of Pushkar in November to witness the Pushkar Camel Fair, a cultural celebration and livestock fair focused around camels and cattle, with rural sports, dances, fete attractions, and shows to explore.

Dolphins – Portugal really is a great location for dolphin spotting. Bottlenose and striped dolphins are residents in the waters surrounding Madeira and can be seen here throughout the year. 

Elephants – In northern Thailand, the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai is an excellent example of conservation work. It presents a fantastic place that allows you to just watch elephants roam in their natural environment, without any human involvement such as washing, riding, or feeding.

Gorillas – Bwindi National Park in Uganda allows for close and personal encounters with the endangered mountain gorilla. These gentle giants of Bwindi can be seen eating, playing, and relaxing; and the entrance and trekking fee revenue is used to protect the park and the home it provides for this endangered species of gorilla.

Grizzly Bear - Walking in the Canadian Rockies in May or June is one of the best ways to encounter grizzly bears. The food is scarce on the mountains, so the bears come down to the road to feed and are easier to spot.

Hippos - Kosi Bay refers to four interlinked lakes in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal area. Kosi Bay has a supremely rich diversity of birds and animals and provides superb conditions for spotting crocodiles and hippos.

Jaguar – The biodiverse Pantanal region in Brazil is home to the world’s largest flooded grassland and tropical wetlands. This wildlife nirvana can be explored on foot or canal, as part of our Pure Brazil tour. Here you can find capybara, anaconda, giant anteaters, scarlet macaws, howler monkeys, wild boar, and even the elusive jaguar.

Lions – The Chobe National Park in Botswana provides some wonderful opportunities for wild lion sightings, and even though lions aren’t big fans of water, the Okavango Delta provides an incredible backdrop for lion spotting.

Penguins – One of South Africa’s hidden gems is the colony of penguins at Stony Point Nature Reserve, nestled close to the coastal town of Betty’s Bay in Overberg. The land-based penguin colony is the third-largest breeding colony of African penguins in the world. 

Polar Bear – Polar bear excursions are available from the outpost town of Churchill in Canada , where adventurers will travel in the ‘Polar Rover’ to learn more about bear behavior and watch the bears interact.

Rhino – South Africa’s Kruger National Park is home to a large number of impressive species, including elephant, lion, giraffe, and vultures, and it now boasts an estimated 300 black rhinos thanks to ongoing conservation efforts. A population of over 3,000 white rhinos also reside in Kruger, making it a great location for rhino enthusiasts to visit.

Tigers – Whilst Ranthambore National Park provides some fantastic chances to see tigers in the wild, for something different, our Darjeeling and Bhutan tour takes in the Sundarbans National Park, where tigers are known to laze out and sunbathe on the mudflats.

Turtles - St Lucia - Night drives in St. Lucia provide some excellent opportunities to spot giant turtles coming ashore. Marine wildlife lovers will also appreciate the chances to spot hippos and crocodiles on St. Lucia River.

Warthogs - While South Africa’s Addo Elephant National Park near Port Elizabeth is, of course, perfect for seeing elephants, warthogs are also abundant here, along with various species of antelope and zebra.

Whales - Iceland, the land of the midnight sun, offers whale watching trips from the northern town of Akureyri. While research is showing that humpback whales can now be seen year round in Iceland, the time of year to go for the best chances of sightings is from May to September.

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