How many panda bears have your children seen? How many koalas apart from in cartoons? And snakes that aren't from films? They probably don't even think white tigers exist, nor imagine that a panda eats more than ten kilos of bamboo every day. You neither? Then you have various reasons for visiting the zoos in Spain: teach your children and learn alongside them while you have a great day out.

Spain's zoos bring together entertainment, education and nature conservation. You can see unusual animals, some of which are endangered species, such as the panda bear. Furthermore, some zoos offer the chance to get right alongside the animals, aquaria with dolphins, and even safaris. Your visit will provide answers to many of your children's questions, but will give rise to another: "When can we come back?"

Unknown animals

The zoo-aquarium in Madrid has more than 500 different species of animals. Barcelona Zoo has more than 400. Does this seem a lot? Try to list all the species you know and you will be amazed at the number of new animals to be discovered at these zoos. At the zoo in Madrid you can even see a pair of pandas. These are two friendly animals that share the limelight with lazy koala bears, sure to be see fast asleep and hugging a tree trunk. An aquarium, dolphin pool, aviary and up to 6,000 animals await you at this zoo.

At Barcelona Zoo the main stars are the large colony of endangered primates. Furthermore, this zoo is the European centre for reproduction in captivity of the Iberian wolf, and has unusual residents such as the bottlenose dolphin and snow panther. A total of some 7,500 animals to satisfy your children's curiosity... and yours too!

Other major zoos in Spain are to be found in Benidorm and in the Region of Andalusia: Jerez, in the province of Cadiz, and Fuengirola, in the province of Malaga. Benidorm is a city in the Region of Valencia and is home to Terra Natura. The most characteristic thing about this park is that only glass barriers separate visitors from more than 1,500 animals, helping you to feel like part of the environment.

The Zoo-Botanic Gardens in Jerez has more than 200 species and 1,300 animals. The most sought-after by the cameras are Buba the elephant, more than 20 years old, and Kyosu the white tiger.

Fuengirola Zoo has received international recognition for its recreation of the natural surroundings. Its mangrove is home to endangered species of turtle and was named best enclosure in Europe by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). Furthermore, during the summer the zoo opens until midnight, uncovering the lives of nocturnal animals that we hardly ever see.

Animals in semi-liberty

The most important thing at zoos today is the well-being of the animals. That is why their habitats are carefully recreated. This premise has led to a new zoo concept, in which the animals are practically free.

Faunia, in Madrid, and the Cabárceno Park, in Cantabria, are two of the clearest representatives of this kind of zoos in Spain. At the former you can give the feeding bottle to a young mouflon, stroke tiger cubs, have a falcon perch on your arm and see more than a hundred penguins slide around on the ice. At Cabárceno, meanwhile, you can walk around amongst more than a hundred species of animals that live in almost complete liberty. They even reproduce naturally, so there is a good chance of seeing cubs at their mothers' feet during your visit. Also in the Cantabria Region is Santillana Zoo, interesting for its recreation of the flora and fauna of the Altamira area during the Quaternary period. The park brings children into contact with history because it relates the animals and plants from that period with their modern-day counterparts.

If you want to surprise the children with something different, then a good option is Selwo Aventura, in Estepona (Malaga province), in southern Spain. You can explore this park on foot or by 4x4, with routes where you can see bison, buffalo, tigers, camels…. Just like going on safari.

The Canary Islands, a paradise for birds... and penguins too!

The Canaries are known for their tropical climate and beautiful beaches, but they are also a paradise for penguins. At least that is what it looks like on a visit to Loro Parque, a zoo on the island of Tenerife whose residents include a multitude of penguins. If that is surprising, just wait to see them dance. It's hilarious!

Loro Parque is also a real reserve for the birds that give it its name (Loro - Parrot). Here you can see all kinds of parrots and enjoy the shows they put on. Sea lions, whales, dolphins, tigers, orang-utans... all these await you in Tenerife.

Are you ready to have fun teaching and learning? Your kids will be for sure! Come and have family fun at Spain's zoos!

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