17 Most Friendly Wild Animals in the World

Photo of author

By Darryl Henderson

Venturing into the wild means being wary of many of the dangerous creatures this world has to offer. Luckily, there are some friendly wild animals out there, too. If you’re looking for the gentlest of encounters, here are 17 of the most approachable wild animals across the globe.


Photo Credit: Apirak Wongpunsing/Shutterstock

Dolphins are known for their incredible intelligence and playfulness. Many people plan to swim with dolphins at least once in their life – and for good reason! They’re known for readily approaching humans out in the wild to say hello, and some cultures even have them working together with humans for fishing.


Photo Credit: dptro/Shutterstock

An elephant’s size and powerful tusks mean they can often be intimidating, yet they’re capable of showing affection. In some cultures, they even bond closely with humans. According to the University of Cambridge, elephants “are responsive to vocal commands” and depend on their sense of smell the most.


Photo Credit: Thierry Eidenweil/Shutterstock

Manatees can be spotted in the sea thanks to their gigantic size – but these sea dwellers are known for being gentle giants, thankfully. You can often find manatees in shallow waters, and their friendly disposition means they’re no threat to humans.

Manta Rays

Photo Credit: Aaronejbull87/Shutterstock

Manta Rays are another ocean creature known for being gentle giants. They will happily glide over to curious snorkelers or swimmers. They’re also known for having high cognitive function. The National Geographic reveals their high intelligence means they might even recognize themselves in a mirror!


Photo Credit: Inspired By Maps/Shutterstock

Known for their incredibly slow pace, the aptly named sloth is one of the gentlest wild animals. It often interacts with humans, and its slow pace means humans can spend time around it when it’s approached on the ground. Sloths usually don’t flee from interactions.


Photo Credit: Nilesh Rathod/Shutterstock

Giraffes can be very gentle with humans, especially during feeding sessions if they’re living in reserves. They’re known for being particularly calm and slow-moving animals, and their curiosity also means they can react favorably to any human interest as long as they’re approached safely.

Bighorn Sheep

Photo Credit: Grey Mountain Photo/Shutterstock

Despite their intimidating horns, Bighorn Sheep have a timid nature. National parks are the best opportunities to approach these friendly animals, as they’ll be used by humans in these spaces. According to Britannica, Bighorn Sheep prefer to be out in the open in the wild, close to rocky patches.


Photo Credit: Christian Edelmann/Shutterstock

Capybaras are among the friendliest wild creatures because they can coexist peacefully with plenty of other animals. Known as the world’s largest rodent, they’re very social and don’t mind being approached. They’re most often found lounging in water.


Photo Credit: Sergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock

If you’re a fan of nature documentaries, you’ve likely seen a curious penguin or two approaching a photographer. They’re mostly unafraid of humans and can be extremely curious. Surprisingly, they’re most approachable during nesting season, and that’s because they’ll be too distracted by their young.


Photo Credit: Elsalass/Shutterstock

Wallabies, similar in appearance to kangaroos but smaller, are also friendly wild animals found natively in Australia. They are most active at night in their natural habitat, according to NSW Government, but can be approached safely by humans during the day. They’re known for being a little more curious than kangaroos, too.


Photo Credit: Karel Bartik/Shutterstock

While many deer might flee at the sight of a human if they’re startled, they’re also known for approaching people out of curiosity if they feel safe. In protected areas, they become more accustomed to the presence of humans. Therefore, these gentle creatures can be even friendlier.


Photo Credit: HelgaPhoto.ru/Shutterstock

Rabbits in the wild are naturally more cautious than domesticated rabbits, meaning they might be difficult to approach – but that’s not through lack of friendliness. If they’re used to being close to human populations, they’ll likely be playful and amiable.


Photo Credit: Nico Faramaz/Shutterstock

The prospect of encountering a whale in the wild can be daunting due to their overwhelming size, but these ocean creatures are known for their friendliness and curiosity. Especially with boats, they often approach or engage with humans. Though you’ll want to stay at a safe distance if they decide to breach!


Photo Credit: David Osborn/Shutterstock

Seals are often considered the dogs of the sea world, thanks to how playful they are. They’re known for readily approaching divers and swimmers. Their interactions often include mimicking human movements under the water if they find them fascinating enough!


Photo Credit: Martin Mecnarowski/Shutterstock

Parrots are highly intelligent birds with a long life span, and this, coupled with their friendliness, makes them popular lifetime pets. They’re known for being highly social with exceptional mimicking abilities. Out in the wild, parrots will readily approach humans out of curiosity.

Sea Otters

Photo Credit: Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock

Another sea creature known for its playfulness is the sea otter, which can often be spotted floating on its back without a care in the world. They’re happy to be approached in their natural habitat, and even more so if they’re located in kelp forests where they’re a protected species.


Photo Credit: LCAT Productions/Shutterstock

Kangaroos are best known for their powerful kick and fight-ready posture. While it’s true that you want to approach with caution (and definitely not get in the way of those feet!), kangaroos are friendly animals in tourist areas and will often feed and interact with humans.