Unusual animals have always had an important place in Oxford's history. Several colleges traditionally have resident tortoises, acting as pets and mascots, and sometimes bringing their college glory during the annual Corpus Christi Tortoise Fair. During his student days at Magdalen College, Oscar Wilde used to walk his pet lobster on a leash.
The dodo is strongly associated with Oxford, particularly with the University Museum of Natural History, whose collection features The Oxford Dodo, the only example of surviving soft tissue dodo remains in the world (surely all the Museum needs is a Dodo Home Cloning Kit to bring these loveable creatures back from extinction?).
While the dodo is long gone, there are plenty of living animals that you can see around Oxfordshire. People interested in conservation can take a walk in Wytham Woods, one of Oxfordshire's major scientific research sites that is brimming with wildlife to spot (please note that you'll need to apply for a free permit to take a stroll around the woods). Budding ornithologists can keep an eye on the swift project at the Museum of Natural History, or learn about Oxfordshire bird life with the Banbury Birds group. As it's springtime, you're bound to spot an increasing number of lambs bounding around the Oxfordshire fields - you can learn more about sheep, lambs and their place in British history with Daily Info's Guide to Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sheep.
Oxfordshire has plenty to offer animal-lovers when it comes to days out and places to visit. Cotswold Wildlife Park has been open for over forty years, and boasts a whole menagerie of animals, from lions and giraffes to Patagonian maras and grey mouse lemurs. For less exotic but no less interesting animals, try the Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary, where you can meet over 120 rescue donkeys, including some very cute foals. Bird-lovers can visit the owls and raptors at Millets Farm Falconry (they also have skunks and ferrets!), while the adventurous types in your family may enjoy a day out to Crocodiles of the World. And for a trip that the whole family will enjoy, head to Fairytale Farm, a fully accessible farm with a storytelling theme.
Want an animal to take home with you? Head to Daily Info's Pets page, where you can often find kittens, puppies or birds for sale, as well as various animal accessories. If you want to give a rescue animal a home, there are a large number of animal sanctuaries all across Oxfordshire. Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary has dogs, cats and rabbits up for adoption, and are a friendly, supportive organisation (this Daily Info staffer got her two cats from OAS, and hasn't looked back!).
For more moggies, have a look at Sunshine Cat Rescue, which has a range of fluffy friends for adoption. BARKS in Banbury has cats, rabbits and smaller animals up for adoption, so if you're looking for a guinea pig or a degu, they may have your perfect match! If you want to support some working animals, check out Dogs for Good, a Banbury-based charity that trains assistance and community dogs.