The Barcelona Zoological Parc, located in one of the city parks, Parc de Ciutadella, is one of the most popular attractions in Barcelona for kids and receives over a million visitors a year, both locals and tourists. It was founded in 1892, making it one of the oldest in the world, and it´s buildings were originally used for the 1888 Universal Exhibition.
It occupies over 14 hectares and houses over 7,000 animals from 400 different species including mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles, and since it´s opening it has been extended and redesigned several times. The first collection of animals came from the private collection of Lluís Martí who had previously been keeping them on his estate. Currently the zoo enjoys the reputation of being one of the finest zoos in Europe.
The zoo prides itself on the humane habitats and conditions of all of the animals. In fact, many of the upkeeps done over the last few years have been done with the intention of improving the animals’ conditions. Visitors who have had the opportunity to visit other zoos will also notice that the Barcelona Zoo provides the animals with more space than most, and that an effort has been made to provide them with environments that are similar to what they would enjoy in the wild. In addition, it collaborates on several programs to breed and preserve endangered species.
The black vulture and the giant anteater are two examples of species currently being bred in captivity at the zoo in order to preserve the species. The Barcelona Zoo also participates in programs that reintroduce endangered species into nature after they have been in captivity. This has already been done successfully with several native species such as the night heron and the white stork.
The most famous animal ever housed in the Barcelona Zoo was Snowflake (Floquet de Neu) an albino gorilla who was housed at the zoo for over 30 years. Snowflake was famous for being the only albino gorilla in captivity and was considered to be a city mascot. Unfortunately, Snowflake died of skin cancer several years ago, but you can still find his image on postcards and photos all over the city and several of his offspring are still at the zoo (although they are not albino).
Currently the most popular animals tend to be the big cats, the elephants and the primates, so those exhibits are also the most crowded during peak times. If you´re lucky you may have a chance to see some of the animals being fed, if this is something you´re particularly interested in your best bet is to check with the zoo staff upon arrival and see if they can tell you what the feeding schedule is for the day.
Apart from the animals, the Barcelona Zoo offers a variety of other shows and activities which can be enjoyed by visitors of all ages. One of the most popular is the dolphin show, which is every day at 11:30am, 1:30pm, and 4:30pm (although this is subject to change so it´s always best to check upon arrival). There are also electric cars and a mini train, both of which are quite popular. The electric car costs 13 euros per hour for a two seater and 20 euros per hour for a 4 seater, and the driver must bring a valid driver´s license (from any country) and be at least 18 years of age.
Just as you would expect, there are a number of activities for children. The zoo offers educational programs for children, although the majority of them are done only in Spanish or Catalan. There is also a petting zoo where children can feed and touch small animals, a pony ride, and a large children´s park, all of which are ideal for younger children.
The zoo has restaurants and cafes where food and drinks are sold which are quite reasonably priced, but the zoo also allows you to bring food and drinks in and there are also plenty of places for a picnic if you prefer that option. If you go during summer it´s best to visit in the late afternoon or early evening, because most of the animals stay in their cages (and out of the sun!) during the hottest part of the day. If you can, try and visit during the week so it will be less crowded.
A good itinerary if you plan to make a day of it is to visit the park in the morning and then spend the afternoon at the zoo, or vice versa. However planning your trip make sure to give yourself plenty of time so that you can enjoy everything the zoo has to offer.
Address: Parc de la Ciutadella
Phone: 932 256 780
How to get there:Metro L4, stop Ciutadella-Vila Olímpica. | Bus 14, 39, 40, 41, 42 and 51. | Tram T4, stop Ciutadella-Vila Olímpica. | Barcelona Bus Turístic, stop Parc de la Ciutadella-Zoo.
Web site: www.zoobarcelona.com
Guided Visits: 932 256 787
Price: adults 16 euros, children (3-12 years of age) 9,60 euros, children under 3 free of charge
Ticket Office Opening Times:
January 1- March 15- 10:00am to 5:00pm
March 16-May- 10:00am to 6:00pm
June- September- 10:00am to 7:00pm
October 1-24- 10:00am to 18:00pm
October 25- December- 10:00am to 5:00pm