For animal lovers, there are some places that are dreams come true! And yes, they do really exist! While some of the islands are full of warm, cuddly animals, others are inhabited by creatures not normally thought of as pets. From foxes that you can feed, to stingless jellyfish that will do swimmers no harm, these islands are crammed with wildlife.
You may wonder how they arrived at the destinations, and while there are legends about this, there are no absolutely certain reasons. In some places the animals are treated with great respect by locals, while in others they live entirely on their own. The animals are there, and seem very happy to have humans as their tourists! Some of them are friendly, while others you would do well to admire from a distance.
Have a look at some places where the animals have literally, taken over, and the humans are their visitors.
Fox Village, Japan
Fox Village, located in Japan’s Miyagi prefecture, is home to a leash of more than 100 foxes, composed of six different species, all allowed to wander free in a large forested area Visitors to the village can pay around £4 (700 Japanese Yen) to enter and feed the animals. Foxes are heralded in Japan, with many believing they have mystical powers and bring good luck Rabbit Island
Rabbit Island, officially known as Okunoshima, is a small island off the coast of Hiroshima Prefecture, and is home to hundreds of wild but friendly bunnies who approach tourists in large groups to scavenge for food It’s not known how the island came to be overrun by rabbits, but from 1930 to 1945 it was used as a testing ground for poison and it is thought during that time that the test subjects included rabbits Things got very hairy for this tourist when she visited the island. After offering them some food, she was chased down a road by a stampede of them Crab Island
It is estimated that more than 43million crabs inhabit tiny Christmas island, their presence more obvious during breeding season when they head to the water’s edge to reproduce During the migration period the state government closes the roads on the island to ensure the crabs have a safe journey, but many are still killed on train tracks Jellyfish Lake
Located on Eil Malik island in Palau, Jellyfish Lake is home to over a million stingless golden jellyfish. Hundreds of years ago the lake had an outlet to the ocean but when the sea level dropped the jellyfish population were isolated and began to thrive They had no predators so over time their stings disappeared and now divers can now swim alongside them with no fear of being stung Cat Island
On the Japanese island of Tashirojima – population 100 – there are more cats than residents, and they are valued by locals who feed them in the belief that they bring good luck They are particularly useful for the local farm-raised silkworms industry because they chase away mice, which eat them Pony Island
The rural island of Assateague on the coast of America is home to more than 300 feral ponies thought to have made their way there after surviving a shipwreck The best way to see the ponies, on the 37 mile-long island off Maryland and Virginia, is by kayak along the island’s waterways Monkey Forest
Monkey Forest, located in Ubud, Bali, is home to more than 600 monkeys. Tourists the world over flock to come and interact with them, but being bitten is common The forest hosts a variety of ancient Hindu temples that date back to 1350, and which the monkeys have made their home Pig Island
On a small uninhabited island in the Exuma region of the Bahamas, wild pigs paddle freely. Tourists can reach the site by boat to feed and play with them According to legend they were left there by sailors who had plans to return for a pork roast, but never did, leaving the pigs to turn feral Deer Island
Situated in the west central section of Honshu, the largest island of Japan, Nara is home to more than 1,200 deer – believed to be sacred among the locals Tourists can purchase crackers to feed to the tame deer, which roam the streets freely in large groups all year round Polar Bear Bay
Canada is home to two-thirds of the world’s polar bears, many of which amass each year at Hudson bay in Churchill, Manitoba, to hunt on the ice. Tourists can get up-close with them in specially-made Tundra Buggy vehicles like this one Churchill has been nicknamed the Polar Bear Capital of the World, but environmental experts say climate change could make the population extinct within a few decades Chicken Cove
The Hawaiian island of Kauai is overrun with thousands of feral chickens who have no natural predators. Their origin remains a mystery The ever-multiplying birds are popular with locals because they eat the venomous centipedes native to the remote island