Barcelona Zoo has been wowing its visitors since 1892 and as a result is one of the oldest zoos in the world. Situated in the Park de la Ciutadella very close to the Olympic village it houses many species of mammals, birds and reptiles. There's also a train for children, a restaurant and a shop to buy souvenirs after the visit.History
In 1892 the rich banker Luis Marti Codelar decided to give his collection of native and exotic animals to the city.
At the time the Mayor of Barcelona Tia Manuel Porca simply didn't have anywhere to house them, so he approved the purchase of land at the Parc de la Cuitadella which was the site of the great 1888 exhibition. He also appointed the first curator Francesc Darder a renowned animal lover and naturalist.
The zoo remained free to the public until 1927 when the first fees were charged. This gave Barcelona Zoo a much needed cash injection. In 1929 the animal collection was increased to include a pair of black panthers and a magnificent Sumatran tiger.
With the onset of the Spanish Civil war in 1936 and the countrywide problems that it caused, the zoo fell into disrepair and virtually ran out of money. However in 1956, a plan to renovate and expand the zoo was approved and as a result traditional cages were replaced by larger natural looking spaces more suited to the needs of the animals.
By 1960 Barcelona Zoo had the first dolphinarium in Europe and in 1966, the world' first albino Gorilla named Snowflake was housed here.
Snowflake (Copito de Nieve in Spanish), made the zoo very famous, but unfortunately he died in 2003.
His memory lives on in Barcelona, and especially in the zoo in the form of Snowflake's Grant. The goal for this grant is to aid research on primates in memory and tribute to the famous gorilla.Conservation is the key
By this time the zoo was also leading the way in animal welfare and in 1975 opened a school to reflect the values of respect for nature and its animals and by 1980 it was committed to bringing on board international organisations to help with animal conservation.
By 1988 the zoo started an extensive breeding program for rare red pandas, gorillas and white rhinos. To this present day Barcelona zoo is committed to the conservation and sustainability of animals throughout the world and are still pioneers in the field.
The zoo is ranked amongst the top zoos in the country and houses hundreds of species of animals, birds, insects, reptiles, mammals and fish.
You can expect to see parrots and macaws in the giant aviary along with other exotic and colourful birds. Step into the Gorilla enclosure where you will see them up close and personal. Take a trip to the aquarium where you can watch the giant Komodo dragons going about their business and watch great dolphin shows which is not the norm in a zoo. They run 4 times a day (or they did when I went which was peak summer season) they might change the shows at other times of the year.
For the kids there is a farm zoo where they can get acquainted with many domestic animals, frogs and butterflies. In addition there are kangaroos, smaller primates, zebra, elephants, giraffes, pygmy hippos, water buffalo, bison and some pretty impressive Iberian wolves to name but a few.
Other than the huge variety of animals, the zoo is very well kept and picturesque and the most important thing I noticed was that the animals looked very healthy and happy.
It took us about 2 hours to do a tour of the zoo, and I would advise going on a weekday when it is not as full.
All in all it was one of the best places to visit in Barcelona, the kids will really enjoy it!
* December 25 open until noon
* You can find more information about the prices on their official website.
You can find more information on the official site of the Barcelona Zoo.
Line 4 stops at station Ciutadella-Vila Olímpica from where you can easily access the Zoo.
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