Fuengirola Zoo - A Different Species Of Zoo

Published on 7/31/2008 in Kids in Spain

Schools and Education in Spain Guide

When visiting the Costa del Sol in Andalucia, Southern Spain, and must-see destination is the Zoo in Fuengirola.

Located right in the centre of town, the zoo is a beautiful and calm place, beautifully designed to give its residents space and realistic natural habitats to live in, grow and produce their young.

History of the Zoo

The zoo originally opened in the 1970's, as a typical zoo, with awful cages and fenced enclosures for the animals. Living conditions were unspeakable and left a lot to be desired. In December 1998, Rain Forest took over the contract to operate the zoo and completely redesigned the property using the latest "full immersion zoo" concept. The property is actually relatively small, so they chose to use a "tropical forest" ecosystem for the whole of the property - very suitable with the sub-tropical vegetation in the area.

They set out to create an environment embracing the tropical rainforests of Madagascar, Southeast Asia and Equatorial Africa, including rivers and waterfalls, caves, valleys, trees and rocks. As the property is small, subterranean stables were built for the animals to sleep and also raised gardens were erected around the property to block off the nearby buildings - making the zoo a different world within the busy seaside city.

Breeding of endangered species

Once everything was in place, the animals were introduced to their wonderful new habitat. Breeding of endangered species now successfully occurred - particularly with the chimpanzees.. Although the zoo had been breeding chimps from the outset, in the past there was a great deal of infanticide, as conditions were so unnatural. For the first time they could walk on grass, touch plants, run, play hide-and-seek. For the first time they could behave like chimpanzees.

With the introduction of the new zoo, many of the animals are now successfully breeding - not only the chimps, but also the Bornean Orang-utans, the Sumatran Tigers, the lemurs from Madagascar, Pygmy Hippopotamus and the Blue Duiker are all examples of animals that now successfully breed their young in this new environment.

It is truly wonderful to see the baby animals, and their parents so happy and proud. Although I am normally against zoos as a whole, seeing endangered species flourishing is truly a heart warming experience.

A stroll around the zoo

As you enter the zoo, staff will take your photo, as a memento of your visit. You will then calmly stroll around the shady environment, with tropical sounds appropriate to each section playing through the trees. It is easy to imagine that you are actually in the tropical jungles of Africa or Asia!

There are aviaries of beautiful birds, waterholes with various buck and birds including beautiful flamingos and their young, sharing the space, and of course the more famous animals in the zoo - the Gorilla, the Sumatran Tigers and leopards! Also worth a visit are the Orang-utans - they have recently produced a cute youngster, and the mother endlessly shows off her baby to visitors, and also delights in posing for you - she definitely has a great sense of humour, and I have managed to take some amazing shots of her!

The chimps are also enchanting to watch, and currently have youngsters too. The golden cheeked gibbons are also beautiful - the male of the species being black and the female a beautiful golden colour. Currently their baby is also golden, but as it is a male, it will eventually turn black like Dad.

Make sure you visit the Nile crocodiles - scary looking creatures, but luckily the viewing glass is very thick!

The highlight of the visit, in my opinion, is the Madagascar enclosure - habitat of the lemurs, where every 30 minutes you can take a tour to visit these gorgeous and friendly creatures. Entrance to the enclosure is through a very realistic baobab tree - created for the zoo - you can really imagine that you are in Africa when you step inside this hollow tree on the way to the lemurs!

Another highlight is the regular Forest Clearing Exhibitions, where you can enjoy a commentary on various animals in the zoo, and see exhibits. In summer, during July and August, try and visit the zoo at night for an amazing experience as the animals come to life after sleeping in the heat of the day - concluding with a dinner in the heart of the jungle! Currently they are running a special African evening, with African dancing and a tasty meal.

In conclusion:

All in all, Fuengirola zoo is a zoo in continuous evolution and it is difficult to include everything about this wonderful place in one article. However, it is important to know that the zoo is involved in 35 European endangered species breeding programmes and also collaborates on a variety of international projects to save, in situ, the planet's endangered forest zones. Please give generously to the various projects as you visit the zoo and have a wonderful visit! You will be back (I've visited 4 times and I LIVE in Fuengirola!

Written by: Anne Sewell

About the author:Anne Sewell is involved in the travel industry on the internet with various websites including All World Vacation Station - a global travel and accommodation guide.

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