This morning, we took the first of what will likely be many trips to Valencia’s brand new zoo, the BioParc. I had been skeptical: partly because I dislike zoos and partly because of the curious lack of fanfare accompanying today’s Grand Opening. Maybe it’s the American in me, but when a new park of any sort opens, I expect huge crowds, marching bands, college kids in wacky animal outfits, and McDonald’s tie-ins.
But you would have never guessed today was the opening of a highly-touted zoo — billed as the most advanced in Europe. We arrived at 10am, just as the zoo was opening for the first time ever, and got into line behind about 4 other people. The ticket lady was still being trained — ours was apparently the first credit card she’d had to deal with. We caused minor chaos by inquiring about the Entrada Berde, which is the yearly pass. Clearly agitated, the cadre of women who’d assembled to crack the Puzzle of the Credit Card whispered amongst themselves, before asking us to step around to the back of the office. Madness.
By the time we got inside, I was convinced that it was going to suck hard-core, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. BioParc Valencia is, without doubt, the coolest zoo I’ve ever been to.
After getting your ticket, you enter the park by crossing a pedestrian bridge which spans the Turia Gardens. Once on the other side, you’ll immediately encounter the first set of animals: rhinoceroses, zebras and ostriches, all running around a huge area together.
Visitors are able to get nerve-wrackingly close to the animals — only a small stream separates them. A stream so small that surely the hyenas intently taking in our scent on the other side could easily hop over it. “Jesus, Juergen”, I said, “I think they want to fucking eat us!” But Juergen couldn’t hear me … he had silently backed away from the stream, as the hyenas approached. Fear: an emotion one should feel in a zoo!
We wandered around the park for a couple hours — for now, it’s dedicated to Africa (Asia and S. America are coming), and has all the animals you’d expect to see: warthogs, lions, leopards, monkeys, elephants, giraffes, and more. For the most part, the environments in which the animals (live/are trapped) are lush and expansive. But not always. There were a couple species, particularly the bongos, for whom I felt sad.
The one species noticeably lacking was Homo Sapiens. Juergen and I nearly had the zoo entirely to ourselves. This was particularly wonderful in the lemur exhibit, in which there were no cages of any sort. The lemurs were running along the same paths as you, coming exhilaratingly close without exhibiting any fear whatsoever. One jumped a few inches over my head, from tree to tree, and I caught myself squealing with excitement.
We got a small snack in the dining area and sat outdoors with giraffes just a few meters away — again, only the obstruction of a small, steep stream between us. The food was as cheap as at our neighborhood café, which really surprised us. But, in general, a trip to the BioParc is expensive, and it’s not as large as one might hope. We were pretty much done in two hours, having seen everything on offer. Still, the experience was wonderful.
And although the €20 entrance fee is really high, the €41 Entrada Berde yearly pass is extremely reasonable. If you live in Valencia, it’s the only way to go. The park just a short bike trip, probably 15 minutes, from the city center. I could see myself coming back often, even just to spend a half hour watching the rhinos scratch their horns against a tree.
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Great posting and pictures on the zoo. My only concern: How friendly are the animals when the paths ARE flooded with the species Homo Sapien? Will the monkeys leap curiously close over your heads, or will they attack a fat child who just threw a lollipop at it? I also wonder what the secret of the small streams is…I betcha there’s more than just water in that there water…probably water and 90,000v of ZAP. Still, that zoo looks sweet. The animals look healthy (always the first thing that concerns me at zoos) and I hope it stays a quiet little government-funded secret. Tourists ruin everything…especially fat Americans.
I really enjoyed this article and the photographs are excellent accompanying your journal. I would love to go there. This is the way Zoos should be and they are like this in Australia – as long as they are safe for both the animals and the humans.
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Great post. I really enjoyed it. I will have to bookmark this site for later.
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I was at the biopark when it was quite busy – there was a group of kids on a school trip, and one of the park rangers was entertaining them by feeding the lemurs. The lemurs are not shy of people at all, no matter how many are around.
I wrote a review for Trip Advisor here: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g187529-d1064281/Valencia:Spain:Bioparc.Valencia.html
Again, really great review.
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Wonderful text and pics!! Muchos Gratios. Was that Chucky with the warthog fam? Add this to our very extended trip list….now at 8 months. The Paps
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the stream small to humans,but to hyenas that live in deserts and grasslands it huge.
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didn’t you get the card for the whole year? we enjoy going every few weeks and see the changes…
@Mariamar – Actually we did have the card for a year, but it ran out in February! We had a hard time deciding whether to renew, but decided not to in the end, just because we’d been so often already. But, we’re both already regretting that…
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We are going over the christmas period. Really looking forward to it now we have read your great review with stunning pictures. We are animal mad. Had my 60th birthday at Monkey World, Wareham, England. Thanks again.
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Entrada Verde, is with V and not with B… Verde means Green in spanish 😉
It’s still called ENTRADA BERDE … we are here in Valencia, hihi 😉
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Se pueden nadar cpn delfines??
Nic pictures. Unfortunally I wasn´t there till now. But next time I will visit bioParc.