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Fuengirola Zoo

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Fuengirola Zoo

Address Avda. Camilo José Cela
Telephone
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This critique last updated:  Oct 2010


Official Description


Visitor Reviews

Reviewed by David Lomas, October 2010

Fuengirola Zoo is a small compact modern zoo in a town centre, but remarkably pulls off the illusion of spaciousness. The visitors’ route is approximately a figure of eight with a couple of side alleys for backtracking. I don’t recall any steps, so the Zoo is accessible to all.
 
As you enter you’re presented with an artificial Baobab Tree that forms the centre piece of its Madagascar Zone. To your left is a pool of full grown Nile Crocodiles, and a little further on is a crocodile-level viewing window where you can see the reptiles above and below the water. These large viewing windows are a feature of the Zoo and used on the Amur Tigers, Sri Lankan Leopards, Lowland Gorillas, Orangutans and Cassowary.
 
Many of the separations between the animals are subtle to the eye, there’s a Binturong who has his own tree, but preferred to sun himself at the base of the tree on a raised concrete island which he shared with two pelicans and with a fallen tree that took him to the enclosure’s floor where he’d meet a Malayan Tapir who in turn had access to a stretch of water. Similarly the Pygmy Hippos swim in the Chimpanzees’ moat.
 
There’s some neat use of space, such as with the Meerkats and the nocturnal Crested Porcupines swapping their day and night quarters at the start and the end of the visiting day. For some of the larger mammals such as the Pygmy Hippos and the Sitatunga might have more space in another zoo, although you can only admire the Fuengirola’s use of height as well as area in their enclosures.
 
The Zoo has a strong commitment to conservation participating in numerous European Breeding Programmes.

Anthony Heron May 2009

I decided to visit Fuengirola Zoo in mid February, 2007 after reading it had won a number of important awards and subsequently visiting the Zoo’s website. Fuengirola Zoo has been discretely promoting itself as a world-class zoo and although I do not really see this as being the case, it is, nevertheless, an extremely attractive beautifully and imaginatively landscaped small town zoo.

Originally opened during the 1970s, the zoo had become run down and its facilities outdated when the decision was taken to rebuild and redesign the site in 1989. The zoo was totally renovated and re-landscaped from 1990 onwards to create three geographically themed groups of enclosures representing the tropical rainforests of Madagascar, Equatorial Africa and South East Asia.

Upon entering the zoo and taking the path to the left I faced a moated peninsula well planted with large trees and dominated by a fake but nevertheless imposing and attractive giant baobab tree. This enclosure housed a group of ring-tailed lemurs. To the left of a small bridge there is a large enclosure for nine crocodiles (which seemed much more active than those I have seen in other collections) and to the right the moated area blends into an area devoted to lesser and greater flamingos with an attractive rock formation to its rear on which sacred ibis were perching. Following the path as it turns right there was a large enclosure for red river hogs to the left followed by an enclosure for meercats to the left. This was followed by small pit-like enclosures for blue duiker to the right and a dwarf crocodile to the left. Paths then turned in different directions. To the right was a rather small enclosure housing a group of Western sittatunga and a sizable number of birds including yellow-billed storks, sacred ibis, grey crowned cranes, vulturine guinea fowl and painted stork. A tunnel through one of the zoo’s many attractive rock formations housed small vivaria containing geckos, giant snails and scorpions. The next enclosure housed a pair of pygmy hippos together with some Egyptian geese. Walking around the zoo involves crossing a number of attractive bridges which offer excellent views of most of the exhibits. The next enclosure I came to was a very large on containing a pair of western lowland gorillas, ground hornbills and a family of De Brazza monkeys. The next bridge, affording a view of a breeding group of chimpanzees to the left, led to an area where Kikuyu colobus, talapoins and Sri Lankan leopards are housed in glass fronted exhibits. These were followed by a very large enclosure, the backdrop to which is known as the Angkor Temple, containing Sumatran tigers. The path around the Zoo then led to a rather small pit-like roughly u-shaped enclosure which housed a Malayan tapir, a pair of Axis deer, cormorants, pelicans and other birds. A rocky outcrop above the enclosure provided the best zoo habitat for binturongs that I have ever seen. To the right there were exhibits of parrots, rhinoceros hornbills and Prevost’s squirrels followed by a large but rather barren and un-stimulating enclosure for Bornean orang utans, the front moat of which, as far as I was able to understand, was the habitat for small-clawed otters. The next exhibit on the left was a rather small enclosure for a pair of banteng, which were somewhat surprisingly viewed through glass. A breeding pair of golden-cheeked gibbons enjoyed a large moated enclosure to the left which was followed by rather small enclosures for a cassowary and a pair of babirusa together with bar-headed geese. The next enclosure, reached by going down a small slope, housed an enormous pair of false gavials. The next exhibit was a walk through aviary containing an attractive collection of tropical birds and mouse deer. From inside this aviary I was able to see a lowland anoa in its small outside enclosure and some of the Zoo’s impressive collection of freshwater turtles, both again through glass. These turtles, together with various species of fish, can also been seen through glass from another part of the zoo, an exhibit that, incidentally could easily be missed. The Zoo also has crabs in its collection. An area known as the abandoned mine housed pythons, sail-finned lizards, tarantula and stick insects. One can either return to the entrance to the Zoo by following the same path, or take a short cut and reduce the distance somewhat by going through the far door of the walk-through aviary.

In conclusion, I found Fuengirola Zoo to be extremely well landscaped and very attractively planted with a wide selection of tropical and sub-tropical plants, trees and bamboos. It has a varied and interesting collection of animals, birds, reptiles, invertebrates and fish. Some of the enclosures seemed rather small, but the majority of its endangered species (e.g. Eastern lowland gorilla, Sumatran tiger, Bornean orang utan, golden-cheeked gibbon) have particularly large ones.   

 

My second visit: January, 2009.

Visiting Fuengirola zoo almost two years after my first visit I found a few changes. The Axis deer had gone but there were two male Prince Alfred’s deer in a rather small nearby enclosure formerly occupied by a babirusa. The Bornean orang utans enclosure was used on alternate days by a group of Indian dholes. The oriental small-clawed otters had access to the orang utan enclosure (except presumably when occupied by the dholes) but also to the banteng enclosure located at a higher level. The pair of golden-cheeked gibbons and their juvenile male spent a lot of time sunning themselves on the wall of the lowland anoa enclosure.

 

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