In 2001, twenty years after its inauguration, the Fuengirola Zoo - Bioparc Fuengirola reopened its doors as a centre devoted to to re-creating the tropical forests of Madagascar, Equatorial Africa and Southeast Asia. The traditional concept of a zoo as a place for direct exhibits was exchanged for another that emphasised presenting the animals as part of a complex ecosystem. These days it is not ethically justifiable to keep animals in captivity if doing so does not help preserve the species in the wild.
The Fuengirola Zoo - Bioparc Fuengirola is characterised, among other things, by its “zoo immersion” architectural design, which absorbs the visitor into the animal’s surroundings. The entire park is planned to envelop whoever enters it in a re-creation of the habitat from which the animals have come. A structural discontinuity between the physical space occupied by the public and that occupied by the animals imparts some of the magic of travelling through the forest and discovering its inhabitants.
The re-created African, Asian and Madagascan habitats were achieved by mimicking; real-looking embankments, waterfalls, tree trunks and even trees were created. The baobab, one of the largest artificial trees in the world at a height of 25 meters, was a great challenge to the park designers. It has become an icon of the zoo and the city of Fuengirola. This exhaustive habitat re-creation is supplemented with messages on the necessity of conservation.
The Fuengirola Zoo - Bioparc Fuengirola was planned from conception to provide a home to species whose reproduction was of crucial importance, and for that reason a selective collection plan was set up by which a number of facilities especially designed for that purpose were established. Today a total of 130 different species and more than 1,400 individuals live in the zoo.
The Fuengirola Zoo - Bioparc Fuengirola boasts such iconic species as the Sumatra tiger, listed with the highest priority of “Critically Threatened” on the Threatened Species Red List of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). At this time there are only 400 specimens roaming free in their natural habitat, and the park has successfully bred them.
The park also has such unusual and biologically extremely important species as the Malayan false gharial, whose reproduction in captivity has been achieved for the first time, and the blue duiker, both of which are unique in Europe, as well as a breeding band of gorillas, the only ones to be found in Andalusia.
Over a short space of time the Fuengirola Zoo - Bioparc Fuengirola has taken the lead over many European zoos, earning wide recognition both within and outside Spain. The park recently received an award for its excellent re-creation of the facility known as “El Manglar” (the Mangrove Forest), which includes an extraordinary underwater view of this peculiar ecosystem inhabited by fish, birds and turtles in serious danger of extinction.
The award was from the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA), of which the Zoo is a member and with which it takes part in more than 35 European Endangered Species Breeding Programmes, or EEP’s. Through these programmes it now boasts an exceptional collection with a tremendous reproductive potential. Since opening in 2001 the Fuengirola Zoo - Bioparc Fuengirola has been synonymous with quality in all its aspects. At the present time this species conservation centre is the most-visited animal park in Andalusia, solidifying its position as a standard of excellence and a point not to be passed up on any visit to the Costa del Sol.
“Claro de Selva” (Clearing in the Jungle), the bird and mammal exhibition, is designed to bring visitors a bit closer to to a number of tropical forest animals. This exhibition is a pioneering effort in Spain, for the first time bringing together birds and land mammals in the same place and at the same time. The scene is a re-creation of a jungle clearing around two gigantic trees, with a waterfall, river and tropical vegetation. The effect is to transport the visitor deep into a tropical forest where he can view the animals in surroundings totally free of man-made instruments and artefacts.
The warm summer nights of the Costa del Sol make possible this opportunity that is unique in Spain and Europe. The Fuengirola Zoo - Bioparc Fuengirola is the only European Zoo, and the only one in the world except for that of Singapore, that remains fully open until midnight during July and August. The Fuengirola Zoo - Bioparc Fuengirola replicates moonlight by means of a complicated special lighting system. Visitors can thus discover the secrets of the mysterious nocturnal world of tropical forests as they wander through the park.
Camilo Jose Cela 6 – 8. 29640. 952 666 301.