Updated: Aug 5, 2018
You would never know that just north of Quito, in what seemed to be a very urban area, exists one of the coolest zoos I’ve ever visited. Keep in mind I grew up going to the San Diego Zoo almost every year (my mom insisted) which is considered one of the top zoos in the world. So I’m not easily impressed. But this little zoo, the Quito Zoo – which is actually in Guayllabamba, was very impressive. When we arrived and parked in the parking lot (there is small fee for parking) I was worried that it wouldn’t be much of a visit since the parking lot we were in was downhill from the main entrance and did not present a good look at what we had in store for us. We walked past a few concessions stands and a bit of a rundown photo op for kids as we approached the ticket booth. The price was so low, only $5 per person, that we decided to go in anyways just to see what it was like.
Wow! We entered the turnstile and went down the stairs and were immediately greeted by big beautiful signs pointing us in the suggested direction along with the most adorable paw prints leading the way. How cute is that? So we followed the paw prints and the very first thing greeting us was some very active squirrel monkeys. The zoo’s 12 hectares contain over 50 different species of animals in exhibits that are perfectly designed for up-close and personal viewing (and some interaction). You didn’t need binoculars to see these animals. There were 2 or 3 enclosures that were vacant when we went, but for the most part (except for the nocturnal animals) everyone was up and moving around within 10-30 feet of where we were standing. You can see from the map the path that we followed and from the photos below all the up-close-and-personal views we had.
The zoo also has many opportunities to be one-on-one with the amazing animals. My favorite was the “Raptors in Flight” exhibit, where I was able to hold a hawk at the entrance. There was a small extra charge but it was totally worth it. We missed the actual exhibition, but just being able to hold the hawk and be right there with him inches from my face was incredible. The other exhibit that was very enjoyable was the alligator/crocodile exhibit. We were right there so close you could look right into their eyes – on the other side of glass, thankfully. And everyone loved it especially the kids. Another really fun “in-person” exhibit was the owl enclosure. The attendant takes a small group of 2-4 people into the semi-dark enclosure and warns everyone to be very quiet. The owls are perched on tree branches strategically placed within 4-5 feet of the observation path. Not behind glass. Right there in the room with you. Free to move around and watch you watching them. That’s the closest I’ve ever been to owls. Really very exciting.
In addition, we were lucky enough to see one of the rapture trainers working with a couple of vultures in the grassy area near the food court. Not behind a fence, glass, or cage. On the path and the grass in a public area, training the vultures to come and go as he commanded. It was pretty hilarious to see them misbehave too. And as we left down that same pathway, the trainer walked them right by us as if we were all sharing the pathway equally. We took our time walking through the zoo, stopping at every enclosure and it took us a little over 2.5 hours total, including our stop for a snack. I know this isn’t the biggest and best zoo. However, I have to say that I’ve been to many zoos, and this zoo provides a very personal, up-close encounter that you don’t always get at a bigger zoo. I was also very impressed that the animals looked to be in very good condition as well as being energetic and active. Heck, even the tortoises were moving around. It was very fun! And if you love animals and want a close encounter while visiting or living in Ecuador, I would highly recommend it. See the links below for more information.
Quito Zoo: http://www.quitozoo.org/
Map of Quito Zoo: http://www.quitozoo.org/images/quito-zoo-mapa-imprimir.pdf
Info for Quito Zoo:
Address: Huertos Familiares S / N, Guayllabamba, Ecuador. Postal code. 17-17-349
Tels. (593 2) 236 8898/236 8900 | Cels. (593 9) 9804 6563/9146 3846
Lynn & Bob (Niele wasn’t allowed in the zoo...bummer!)
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