Mexico City, Mexico
The Chapultepec Zoo was opened in 1923 in an urban area near Mexico City, and is managed by the city, along with another zoo, under one director. The zoo was completely renovated in 1992, and offers free admission. Due to its location and the fact that it is free to visit, anywhere from five to eight million people visit the zoo each year. Although the zoo is relatively small due to its location, covering about 14 hectares, it has made very good use of the space available to provide decent size and lush habitats for its 2000 inhabitants. There are more than 200 species to see at the zoo, which is divided into seven different “biomes”.
The largest exhibit in the zoo is also the home of its most famous creatures: three Giant Pandas, all females. Due to the large crowds, viewing of the pandas can also be difficult, but the patience to wait for an open space is worth watching some of the rarest, most adored animals in the world. The way the zoo is laid out, with meandering paths as opposed to straight walkways offers very good views of every exhibit from various sides that they curve around. Another favorite exhibit houses the worlds’ only collection of volcano rabbits, a very rare species native to Mexico.
The zoo focuses a great deal on a diversity of bird species. Guests can walk among more than a dozen aviaries, most open air and very tall. From toucans, to egrets, Indian Hornbills to black swans, and everything in between, birds abound at the zoo. Crowned crane wander about with their bright yellow headdresses, and various types of parrots have the option of taking a rest on the shoulder of a visitor. Several California condors hang out in a large enclosure, and were part of a captive breeding program until the female condor recently passed away.
The Desert section of the zoo houses another endangered animal for which the zoo has a breeding program, the rare Mexican Wolf. Close buy are some of the wolves prey animals in the wild, the fallow deer, as well as bobcats, lynx, and hamadras baboons. In the Savanna, guests can visit lemurs, savanna monkeys, hyenas, a large colony of African spurred tortoises, lion, wildebeests, and giraffe. There is also a black Rhinoceros, a Southern White Rhinoceros, shaggy Defassa waterbuck and Eland, the largest species of antelope. Maguie is the zoos Asian elephant.
In the Holarctic, guests will see animals from the Temperature regions of the world, including white tailed-deer, American Black Bear, and the rare volcano rabbits. There are also puma, and raccoons. The Raccoons, which in the United States are often seen as “pests”, have a large enclosure and even an area for underwater viewing. Similarly, the zoo features other animals that aren’t often seen as being exotic, such as coyote and Canadian geese. Two brown bears, one named Bayla who is from the Syrian subspecies of these great bears, also can be visited in this area. Their enclosure contains a large grassy area and running water, and both bears were born in captivity. Three Canadian wolves roam a nearby exhibit, and three other large enclosures house spectacled bears, two of which were born at the zoo. The zoo is involved of conservation of spectacled bears, and two of the bears are the result of a captive breeding program.
The Forest area has a mixture of fascinating animals, from crab-eating macaques swinging about the artificial mangroves to crocodiles which can viewed at an underwater viewing window, if a guests so desires. Close by are two lowland gorillas, Mantu, a 38 year old female, and her son Bantu, who was the first gorilla born in Mexico in 1991. Three solitary male orangutans, two of which were also born at the Chapultepec Zoo reside close by, as well as two chimpanzees. This area is home to many more exciting animals, including leopards, binturongs, jaguarondis, spider monkeys and tigers.
Guided tours are available at the zoo, and there are many stands to find food and souvenirs. There are McDonald’s stands, and Domino’s pizza, but guests must consume food only in the designated restaurant areas. This helps keep the zoo free of trash, and keeps the guests from attempting to feed the animals.