Continuing with the Harry Potter science theme, I thought it would be fun to create a list of real life fantastic beasts and where to find them (spoiler alert it's at zoos and aquariums, as only trained professionals should be handling these beasts).
1) Komodo Dragons are probably the closest thing us muggles get to see that resemble a Ukrainian Ironbelly. Komodo Dragons can be found at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Columbus Zoo, National Zoo, San Diego Zoo, and actually quite of few zoos. Read more about komodo dragons here.
2) California Condors just look like they'd deliver the mail to the villains in Harry Potter (instead of owls), but the truth is they are true survivors, making a comeback after dwindling down to only 22! It's one of the reasons I visit the Phoenix Zoo, but the condors can also be found at the San Diego and Oregon Zoo.
3) Albino American Alligators are also known as white gators, and it's thought that only about 15 out of 5 million alligators have this rare genetic condition that reduces the color pigmentation in their skin. I think Gellert Grindelwald would fancy one as a pet, but I'm pretty sure one can't a pet alligator in the US. So instead, white gators can be found at the Audubon Nature Institute (Louisiana) and Newport Aquarium (Kentucky).
4) Echidnas look a lot like Nifflers, and frankly, look just as cute. Baby echidnas are called puggles, which sounds like muggles. Coincidence, I think not. Find echidnas at the Taronga Zoo (in Australia).
5) Four Eyed Turtles are using magic to create the illusion of four eyes, I'm pretty sure. Or it's evolutionary science at its finest. Either way, the illusion is pretty cool, and the
turtles can be found at the Tennessee Aquarium.
6) Snow Leopards are spotted like a nundu, but thankfully don't have the toxic breath. I mean, I still don't want to come across a snow leopard in the wild (they're also called ghost cats, so you know you shouldn't mess with them!), but I'm happy to view one across the cage at the Bronx Zoo.
7) Giant Garter Snakes can be found at the Sacramento Zoo-- they are at least 64 inches long! Best to brush up on your Parseltongue before visiting these gentle (they are not dangerous), slitherin' (insert groan here), giant garter snakes.
8) Black Rhinoceros are similar to the erumpants with their big horns, but unlike erumpants, they don't explode during mating season. Unfortunately these rhinos are hunted for their big horns, so a new baby black rhino is a big deal, and we are fortunate to be able to see a baby black rhino at the Saint Louis Zoo. The Denver Zoo and few other zoo also have the beasts.
9) Lord Howe Island Stick Insects, well, remind me a lot of "Pickett", a bowtruckle from the movie "Fantastic Beasts." Both are able to fit in the hand of Newt, but I fear the Lord How Island Stick Insect is much more rare than bowtruckles: Australia’s Melbourne Zoo estimates there are only 20 to 30 left in existence. If you live near Melbourne, go check them out!
10) Aardvarks are the only living species of the order Tubulidentata (although other prehistoric species and genera of Tubulidentata are known), which make them very unique and therefore magical (at least I think they are or else I wouldn't have based my book on one)! A mamma and baby aardvark can be found at the Cincinnati Zoo, check them out here.
I know there are tons and tons of real life fantastic beast in the muggle world, and I apologize that I can't cover them all, so please leave me a comment of your favorite IRL fantastic beasts and where to find them! Thanks and happy beast (animal) discovery!