Together with Mexico, Chile is the country that has the largest number of zoos in Latin America, both with eight facilities. And although this recreational activity has a long history in the country, it continues to attract all types of visitors who seek to enjoy a family outing combining fun and learning.
This brief guide to Chile’s zoos can help both nationals and tourists choose their best option.
Zoológico Nacional de Chile – Chilean National Zoo
This is one of the oldest zoos in the country. Created in September 1925, its aim is not only to entertain visitors but also to educate and inform them about the native and exotic fauna displayed at the facility. Other educational activities, such as exhibitions, seminars and lectures, are also held.
Among its main attractions are the Zoo-cine projection hall, a walk-in aviary, an amphitheater where different activities are carried out, and the penguin and chimpanzee pits. The zoo receives more than 800,000 visits per year. The entry fee is US$ 4 for adults and US$ 2 for children. It covers 1,784 acres and is located on the San Cristóbal mountain in the heart of Santiago.
Located on the outskirts of Santiago, this zoo belongs to veterinary surgeon Ignacio Idalsoaga, who initially started a pig farm in the rural area of Buin, a township located 22 miles south of the capital. After a while, injured wild animals that were found by the inhabitants of the area were taken to “the doctor” to cure. As many times there was no possibility of them returning to the wild, Idalsoaga began to build cages to keep them in good condition. Little by little, the “sample” of animals grew and people started visiting the place. In 1990 the park was recognized by the Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero (SAG – Food and Livestock Service), awarding it the legal status of a zoo.
Currently, the Buin Zoo offers varied attractions such as the arthropod gallery, where you can see insects from all over the world; an aviary, with four lagoons and 24 species of birds fluttering around in abundant vegetation; the Baby Zoo, a sector where there are only small animals; an aquarium and an educational marine spectacle featuring sea lions and penguins.
Located on a farm in Lampa, a rural area to the west of Santiago, Lampazoo offers its visitors a large variety of animals, many of them exotic. Inaugurated in September 2009, the facility displays species such as Somalian goats, pumas, golden pheasants, ostriches, deer and boars (called jabalíes), among others. The big attraction of the zoo, however, is a pair of African lions. It also has educational workshops, a restaurant, horse-riding facilities and a souvenir shop.
Zoo Topáter – Topáter Zoo
This is an “educational animal farm” located in the region of Antofagasta, in the north of Chile. The idea of this facility is to allow people to get to know more about the different types of animals that are found in the area, for which a dynamic circuit has been set out where you can visit animal corrals, bird pavilions, horse stalls, greenhouse and plant nurseries. Horse rides are also offered. The address of “Zoo Topáter, Granja Educativa Animal” is Calle Latorre 1455-B, Calama, Region of Antofagasta. Telephone: (56-55) – 341 375.
La Serena Zoo
Close to the Elqui Valley, this park is located in the region of Coquimbo around 55 miles from La Serena and 292 miles north of Santiago. African lions, Chilean pumas, Bengal tigers, Thompson gazelles, yacaré alligators, zebras, clown fish and a large number of reptiles, birds and fish, are some of the wonders you can see at this facility that, year after year, attracts many tourists who enjoy outdoor activities.
Among its main attractions is the Nocturama program. The zoo allows visitors in at night so that they can observe the mysterious inhabitants that sleep during the daytime, such as raccoon, kinkajou (honey bear), skunk and ocelot. Special lighting devices are provided for night viewing.
Parque Safari Rancagua – Rancagua Safari Park
Parque Safari Rancagua offers visitors a unique experience. Located a little over an hour south of Santiago, on kilometer 5 of Route H-30, in the Sixth Region, this zoo offers an innovative and bold proposal, as it is the first Safari Park in Chile. Nature lovers in closed vehicles can be in direct contact with lions and watch them in their wild state, allowing the visitors to learn more about the animals’ way of life. The tour starts with the herbivorous safari, an attraction for the younger visitors who are allowed to feed the different animals.
Zoológico de Concepción – Concepción Zoo
Inaugurated in 1978 in the Region of Biobio, Zoológico de Concepción is a small private park where you can visit nearly 300 animals, including mammals, carnivores, herbivores and birds. Highlights are the Bengal tiger, brown bear, African lions, European boars, pumas, zebras, kangaroos, ostriches and 87 other different species. It also has an artificial lake inhabited by swans, ducks and flamingos, among other aquatic wildlife.
A children’s playground, cafeteria and pavilion offering souvenirs and a variety of handicrafts are other amenities offered.
Zoológico de Quilpué – Quilpué Zoo
Zoológico de Quilpué offers its visitors more than 700 species including mammals, birds, reptiles and aquatic animals distributed over 7.5 acres arranged to emulate the habitats of each animal that is found in the facility. It also has a camping ground and souvenir stalls. It is situated a few minutes away from the cities of Viña del Mar and Valparaiso, at Fundo del Carmen in the southern sector of Quilpué.