Fuengirola zoo is unlike any other you'll have encountered. It was purpose-built to create the ideal environments in which animals whose numbers are in danger of dwindling, might be encouraged to reproduce. Instead of restrictive cages and breezeblock walls, you'll find vast recreations of the animals' natural habitats, including dense Madagascan rainforests, underground caves, and even the banks of the River Nile. The first wildlife park of its kind, the Bioparc also happens to be home to one of the world's largest artificial trees, which stands at a towering 25 metres in height.
An immersive experienceFor visitors, the zoo in Fuengirola offers a uniquely immersive experience. Rather than watching animals through bars, they are invited to enter and explore the habitats and to encounter particular animals. The centrepiece of the Bioparc is the Jungle Clearing, where guests walk through dense vegetation, before arriving at a clearing to observe a variety of creatures, including lizards, mammals and birds. For those animals who are considered to be too dangerous to interact with humans, their enclosures are walled with toughened glass, so visitors have the chance to watch in safety while still enjoying the feeling of being invited into their habitat.
An award-winning achievementThanks to its work with endangered species, the zoo has already won some important awards, including one from the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. This was bestowed for the Bioparc's replication of a mangrove swamp, in which you can see turtles, fishes and birds who, without the support of the zoo, would otherwise be heading towards extinction. The Bioparc is home to over 130 species of animal, 35 of which are on the Endangered Species list.
Visit by nightIn addition to creating a new take on the traditional zoo, the Bioparc has another ace up its sleeve. During the summer months, the night-time temperatures in Fuengirola hover between 13℃ and 19℃. Between July and August, with warm and balmy nights making sightseeing well into the evening a possibility, the Fuengirola zoo throws its doors open until midnight. Using cutting-edge technology to recreate natural moonlight, visitors can immerse themselves in the nocturnal world of the Bioparc's residents, observing how their behaviours change once the sun has set. To add to the magic, recorded sounds of the forests and jungles at night are fed into the zoo through discreet speaker systems. The whole experience allows guests to watch those animals who tend to come to life in darkness, such as porcupines, leathery-winged bats and leopards.
FacilitiesWhile the animals are, without doubt, the stars of the show, the Bioparc has plenty of facilities to enjoy. For younger visitors, there's a dedicated play area, sporting its own miniature farm. If you need to refuel, you'll find the Bioparc has themed restaurants where you can enjoy a light lunch or, if you're visiting at night, a midnight snack. A must-see attraction, the zoo in Fuengirola is the first of its kind and one that other European zoos are hoping to emulate.