Bioparc Fuengirola (previously
Fuengirola Zoo) - Central Fuengirola - Costa del Sol, Spain
Right in the
middle of town is an oasis of calm, and wonderful animals, birds, reptiles
and fish, in very natural enclosures. Visit both the Asian and African
areas of the zoo and you will experience tropical forests, lush with vegetation,
rivers and waterfalls.
Crocodiles bask on sandy
shores and a variety of animals and birds can be viewed in the forest floor
and the forest canopy with its host of primates - including chimps, gorillas,
and colobus monkeys amongst others. Appropriate regional sounds play as
you walk around the various areas of the zoo.
Of particular interest are
the Sumatra Tigers, who have recently produced offspring, and also the
Lemur enclosure, with many of these fascinating creatures from Magagascar.
This enclosure is open with a tour guide at certain times of the day -
ask when you arrive at the zoo for a close up experience with magical lemurs.
Best time to visit is either
early morning (zoo opens at 10 am) or late afternoon.
NOTE: In July and
August the zoo is open until midnight, and you can experience a wonderful
animal exhibition, and dancing and drumming by Senegalese musicians in
the forest clearing in the zoo.
Fuengirola - Calm Oasis in the Centre of Town
When visiting the Costa del
Sol in Andalucia, Southern Spain, a 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
All in all, Bioparc Fuengirola
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 10 times and I LIVE in Fuengirola!).