Home > Ecuador > A visit to Quito’s amazing zoo

A visit to Quito’s amazing zoo

This morning we leave Quito under the always luminous equatorial sun, almost hiding behind its intense glow, a dramatically blue sky.  We are heading north east of the city, along the Simon Bolivar Avenue, Quito’s Western Ring Road.  The view towards the east shows us two of the Andean colossus, the Cayambe and Antisana Volcanoes, neatly presiding over the mountainous landscape, with their stunning cover of perpetual snows, as they rise well over 19.000 feet above sea-level.  Going past city suburbs and colorful neighborhoods, we soon reach the point where the Ring Road yields with the legendary Pan-America Highway. From here, we start descending from Quito’s near 9.000 feet of elevation, to the fertile valley of Guayllabamba, a near sub-tropical patch, stuck between the Andean flanks. At the entrance to the village of Guayllabamba, we take a secondary road, winding uphill for a short distance, until we reach Quito’s Zoo, a little over thirty minutes from the city’s center.

At the Zoo’s gateway, the Director and Curator, a prominent Ecuadorian ornithologist, biologist, writer, photographer, painter and good-old friend, Juan-Manuel, greets us into the premises and accompanies us during the visit.  The Zoo, inaugurated in 1999, stands over twelve acres of natural terrain and its administration is operated by the Quito Zoological Society.  In spite of not really being within Quito’s urban limits, it is officially the City’s Zoo.  The design of the installation is very natural and creates a perfect blend of comfort and non-caged captivity for its animal residents, as well as a pleasant experience for the visitors.  Juan-Manuel explains to us that, in addition of caring for the more than 130 species of animals found at the Zoo; it features a Veterinary Center, a Research and Investigation Center, a small Cafeteria and picnic area plus a Volunteer’s Program to aid in the study and care of the varied creatures, some of them endangered species, which inhabit the Zoo.

The visit to the Zoo is like a pleasant walk through all of Ecuador’s diverse ecosystems, nicely recreated, both for the animals comfort and for the visitors’ enjoyment. The trails recreate the diverse habitats with their own flora: native trees, bushy bromeliads, rare orchids and the whole array of vegetation types, representing each one of the country’s natural areas. The enclosures are ample, natural and provide each animal or group of them with plenty of space to move around without stress.  We thus embark on an imaginary walk through the Amazon rainforests, the wet tropical forests, the Andean highlands, the cloud forests, coastal wetlands and even bits of the Galapagos Islands.  Along the way we can observe unique Amazonian ocelots and jaguars; the Andean puma; deer; two-toed sloths; varieties of monkeys; rare amphibians and reptiles and, of course, some specimens of the legendary Galapagos giant tortoises.

One of the highlights of the visit is one of Ecuador’s symbols of native fauna: the awesome spectacled bear, an endangered species, cared here with professionalism and love.  Another icon of Ecuador, actually the nation’s bird symbol, the Andean condor, is also found here, where a breeding program has already produced young condors who will later return to populate the country’s high Andean peaks and roam its blue skies….. Juan-Manuel allows us a careful glimpse at the youngest newly born condor chick, hiding from the morning sun, under the watchful eyes of one of the majestic parent birds. A new exhibit of the Zoo is its “Land of Birds” Aviary, where the visitors can see, at very close range, without fences of cages, a host of avian fauna: beautiful macaws and parrots; startling toucans; wild ducks, mountain partridges and many more.  The well displayed informative and interactive panels complement the educational spirit of the visit to the Zoo, to make it a two-hour magic experience in contact with Ecuador’s superb fauna and flora.  As our host underlines once more the extraordinary biodiversity of Ecuador, emphasizing on the number of species per square mile; we bid farewell to Quito’s Zoo, an unforgettable experience, not to be missed.

Before heading back to downtown Quito, we look at Guayllabamba town’s famous stalls which display extremely colorful local fruits like the “chirimoyas”, avocados and citrus fruits, which whet our appetite and we decide to have lunch at a local restaurant where we enjoy Quito and possibly Ecuador’s best and most famous “locro de papas” (the traditional potato soup with cheese and avocados), one of the nation’s most famous ancestral dishes. It has been a relaxed an extremely pleasant tour, filled with learning experiences and much enjoyment for the heart and soul….

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: