Wondrous Wildlife
By Vern and Lori Gieger
Not Just For Kids

     Every year zoos attract thousands of visitors who wish to view wildlife in a semi-natural environment. Some zoos do leave a bit to be desired, but most are striving to make the animals' surroundings as natural as possible. We are quite fortunate to have a wonderful zoo close by, The Guadalajara Zoo.
     The Guadalajara Zoo opened its doors on March 25th, 1988 and since then they have been fulfilling their mission to promote the conservation of nature through recreational and educational activities which are designed to attain interaction among the general public to make them more aware of the necessity of the protection of wildlife and our environment.
     The Zoo is located in one of the most beautiful natural areas of Guadalajara. The recreational complex is made up of the Natural Park of Huentitán, the “Severo Diaz” Planetarium, the Selva Mágica Amusement Park, and of course, the Guadalajara Zoo. The actual zoo encompasses 100 developed acres the natural topography of the land was completely left undisturbed, as well as all existing native trees and plants. The proof of this can be seen in the 70 meter difference in levels while walking the uneven landscape from the main entrance to the farthest point of the zoo. In addition, the zoo has an ecological reserve of 280 hectares in the beautiful Huentitan Gorge.
     The Guadalajara Zoo has much to offer! Climb aboard their open-sided safari style vehicles for an exciting expedition. African animals freely roam through 15 acres savannah and cross the Mara River. Look out for giraffes, gazelles, cheetahs, antelopes, ostriches and more. Enjoy the look and feel of a typical Massai village. Learn about the Massai culture, their traditions, dances, and music. Check out the Australian village which has species such as the Koalas on loan from San Diego Zoo and the Flying Foxes from Lubee Foundation, feed rainbow lories inside the Aviary while admiring the rock wallabies.
     Later, get up close to one of the most amazing reptiles in the world, The Komodo Dragon. The Komodo Reserve is the first of its kind in Latin American. Speaking of reptiles, don’t forget the new herpetarium, considered the largest in Latin America. Through its modern exhibits, it shows the visitors, the habitats and living habits of the world of reptiles, such as: crocodiles, venomous snakes, iguanas, turtles and more.
     Do some exploring as you venture to discover The Secrets of The Tropical Jungle where you will meet the “Man of the Forest,” silent felines, charming monkeys and many more animals. “The secrets of the Tropical Jungle” is an area where the visitor will learn about the importance of this fragile ecosystem which is inhabited by numerous species of animals. Grab your camera, and visit the two pyramidal structures in the smaller of the two, you will find tropical birds, and in the bigger one you can find squirrel monkeys. Both structures are perfectly designed for the animals' comfort and enables visitors to have direct contact with these species and even feed the monkeys in the trees overhead.
     Need a break? Sit back and enjoy two daily shows in their large auditorium: the Trained Bird Show and the Reptile Show. But don’t head home before visiting The Nocturnal House “Huentitan… Naturaleza de Noche” (nature at night) which contains an exact reproduction of the fauna and flora of the Huentitan Gorge in its night phase, where visitors are able to observe the night time activities, of these animals.
     These are just a few things to do at the Guadalajara Zoo. They also have great educational programs for children as well as adults, as we found out first hand, as they were gracious enough to put together a special educational workshop for us. Not only did we learn a lot but had a great time too.
     The Guadalajara Zoo is open Wednesday thru Sunday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and holidays. For less than the price of lunch, you can enjoy a beautiful day in tranquil surroundings, get some fresh air and exercise and see and photograph gorgeous exotic wildlife. So put on those walking shoes, grab your camera, and go to the zoo!