Barcelona Zoo receives over a million visitors per year. It isn’t hard to see why, once you know about all the things it has to offer animal lovers. Built in 1892 these 13 hectares located in Ciutadella Park house thousands of animals from 400 different species, many of whom are not typically found at other conservation facilities.
There are programs that stock and protect the Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum). This large lizard is a favorite of kids and adults alike. You can safely view up close this creature that has changed little from prehistoric times. Not far behind on the time scale is the Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga trydactyla), a rare species at zoos. The Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis) is another unusual animal that visitors won’t see even at many larger facilities.
The zoo also hosts a number of Black Vultures, a Mhorr’s Gazelle and Rothschild’s Giraffes. In addition to these well-known names, Barcelona zoo is home to species that are rarely seen elsewhere, such as the Greater Kudu, Siamangs (an arboreal gibbon) and several Mangabeys (a type of Old World monkey).
The zoo is home to a number of interesting bird species to delight visitors, including night herons, egrets and storks. But other species get a fair showing, as well, such as the Majorcan midwife toad from the Tramuntana Mountains. There is a snake house that kids will stare into for hours on end.
There’s no shortage of the kind of animals that zoo lovers often travel far to seek out. Barcelona offers several Eurasian Otters, which are part of the zoo’s active return-to-the-wild program. They have a Red Panda that is a great favorite among zoo-goers of all ages. And the pack of Iberian wolves, native to Spain, continues to attract thousands of onlookers every year.
The zoo provides refuge to several lowland gorillas, too. Not least of those was the famous Snowflake, a quasi-albino gorilla, a resident for 30 years. Snowflake was not a true albino, since his eyes were blue, not pink. But his fur was completely white, the only known example of this variation. Snowflake died in 2003, but several of his progeny are housed at the zoo and there is a large exhibit showing many videos of this fascinating animal.
The zoo has another unusual feature: dolphins. Aquatic animals don’t often make their way into zoos, generally being reserved for aquaria. Barcelona has one of those, as well. But there are several different species housed here, including Bottlenose Dolphins. They even play host to a killer whale, practically an unprecedented species to find at a zoo.
Along with the dolphins and killer whale, the zoo holds several semi-aquatic creatures: Humboldt Penguins. These delightfully zany creatures fly underwater using their flippers as wings, just as birds do through the much thinner fluid we call air. But the method in each case is much the same and as much fun to watch in the case of the penguins.
The zoo is easy to reach. Just take the metro to Ciutadella. The zoo is a short walk away. When finished, take in some of the many other sights offered by the Ciutadella Park.