water antelope

Guadalajara Zoo

Zoológico Guadalajara (Guadalajara Zoo) is the main zoological park in the Mexican city of Guadalajara, Jalisco, and is widely considered one of the most important. It is the largest in the country with respect to species population.


Zoológico Guadalajara started operating in 1988, as a project to promote conservation and research; being the first true zoo of the city, and the largest in the state of Jalisco, the park has been enormously successful and is one of Guadalajara's most popular touristic attractions.

Animal collection

The Guadalajara Zoo is noted for its diversity of species, especially birds, although there are many species of mammals as well, including some endangered species from Mexico and the entire world.

Among them there are Bengal tigers, jaguars, lions (including rare white lions), leopards (including black panthers), orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, African elephants, white rhinoceroses, three species of crocodiles (Nile crocodile, Morelet's crocodile and American crocodile), Aldabra giant tortoises, giraffes, American bison, American black bears, Red Kangaroos, Komodo dragons, Reticulated pythons, Green anacondas, Monocled cobras (including albine specimens), Golden eagles, ostriches, cassowaries, and more.

Some of those species are important for conservation; for example, the zoo has bred the rare Mexican wolf, as well as the endangered Morelet crocodile.

Some of the most famous species in the Guadalajara zoo

- African bush elephant

- White rhinoceros

- Hippopotamus

- Reticulated Giraffe

- Cape Buffalo

- Carabao

- Canadian Bison

- Impala

- Zebra

- Blackbuck

- Nilghai

- Water antelope

- Guanaco

- Llama

- Baird's Tapir- Named Norton, appeared in Mel Gibson's movie Apocalypto.

- White tailed deer

- Wapiti

- Sika Deer

- Chital

- Fallow deer

- Collared peccary

- Vietnamese pig

- Giant Anteater

- Armadillo

- Tamandua

- Two toed sloth

- Lowland Gorilla- The silverback, named Chato, once escaped from the zoo and attempted to do so one second time after that. Some young gorillas have been born in the park.

- Orangutan- A young orangutan was born in the zoo a few years ago and still lives there alonsgide with its mother and father.

- Chimpanzee

- Mandrill

- Hamadryas baboon

- Patas monkey

- Brazza monkey

- Spider monkey- Found in a small island, in the Nocturnarium's lake.

- Squirrel monkey- Squirrel monkeys are found on a pyramidal structure where visitors can enter and feed them.

- White faced capuchin monkey

- Pygmy Marmoset

- Red handed Tamarin

- Gibbon

- Vampire bat

- Fruit eating bat

- Raccoon

- Coati

- Kinkajou

- Greater grison

- Tayra

- Mexican wolf- The Guadalajara zoo has four reproductive Mexican wolves, and is participating in a proyect to reproduce and reintroduce the species (today extinct in the wild).

- Coyote

- Striped Hyena

- Gray Fox

- Fennec fox

- Polar bear- One of the biggest attractions at the zoo.

- American Black Bear

- Bengal Tiger- Perhaps the most popular animal in the zoo. Guadalajara zoo has produced 6 litters of cubs, all of them sired by a male tiger named Niño who despite being normal in color, carries the white gene, allowing him to have white cubs. The last litter was born in April 2007, to the zoo's snow white tigress. This was the first time the tigress was allowed to raise the cubs all by herself.

- African Lion

- African white lion

- Leopard

- Black leopard

- Jaguar

- Cougar

- Bobcat

- Ocelot- Two of the park's ocelots were born in May 21, and thus named Benito and Primavera. (Primavera being the Spanish word for "spring" and Benito after Benito Juarez, a Mexican president born the same day).

- Margay

- African porcupine- Displayed in the Noturnarium as a "visitor", since it is not a local species.

- Mara- Displayed in the Noturnarium as a "visitor", since it is not a local species.

- Ostrich

- Cassowary

- Golden Eagle- The largest bird cage in the zoo belongs to the Golden Eagle, the species that appears in the Mexican coat of arms. The cage has a nopal cactus, the same plant in which the eagle perches in the coat of arms.

- Scarlet, blue and yellow and military macaws

- Yellow headed parrot

- Hornbill

- Emu

- Ñandu

- Peacock- Common in the entire park. It has (or had) albino specimens as well. Being able to fly, the peacocks are often found inside the enclosures of other animals, including the ostrich and antelope paddocks, and sometimes even around the human visitors.

- Canadian and Australian geese

- White Pelican

- Crowned Crane

- Caribbean flamingo

- Red tailed Hawk

- Harris hawk

- Crow

- Great Horned Owl

- Brasilian pygmy owl

- Barn Owl

- Morelet's crocodile- This endangered crocodile species has been bred in the park and some of the young have been returned to the Centla Swamps, in the Mexican state of Tabasco, where they originally thrieved. The two main breeding crocodiles are reportedly named Juanito and Margarita.

- American crocodile

- Nile crocodile

- Komodo dragon- It has its own enclosure, named "Komodo Reserve". The park's specimen is still young and, according to its handlers, quite short tempered. Its handlers are the ones who work with the other reptiles in the Herpetarium, but the Komodo Reserve is located near the Australian Ville and the Nocturnarium.

- Aldabra giant tortoise

- Nile and Savannah Monitors

- Australian frilled lizard

- Reticulated, Indian, Ball, Blood and African rock pythons- The zoo has some very large specimens of Reticulated and Indian pythons, including albino specimens.

- Monocled, king, spitter and common cobra

- Green iguana- Iguanas are common in the zoo and found in several enclosures, including the one of the gibbons and the one of the Morelet's crocodiles.

- Piranha

- Gar

- Anaconda

- Squirrel- The zoo has a great population of wild squirrels that have dug up a gallery system in almost the entire park. They can be seen often inside the paddocks of the parks' animals, even the predatory ones.

- River Otter

- Toucans

- Red Kangaroo- In 2007, 10 red kangaroos arrived to the Guadalajara zoo and became one of the newest and most popular attractions at the "Australian Ville" area of the park. Unfortunately, the same year, seven of the kangaroos died due to violent electric storms that stressed them to the point of killing them.

- Wallabies

Famous inhabitants

Among the most famous animals in the zoo's collection are: - Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris). White tigers have been one of the zoo's main attractions almost since the park opened its doors. One of them, a snow white tigress, is actually the mother of Montecore, the tiger who mauled Roy Horn from Sigfried and Roy. Many of the white tigers used by Sigfried and Roy in their show are born in the Guadalajara zoo. The zoo also has normal coloured tigers. 6 litters or Bengal tigers have been born in the zoo, all of them sired by the park's resident tiger Niño, who has the tiger's normal coloration but also white genes on his own heritage, which enables him to sire both orange and white cubs.

- Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla). Gorillas are among the zoo's most famous inhabitants. The silverback male, nicknamed "El Chato" by its handlers, escaped its enclosure once terrorizing visitors, but no one was hurt and the gorilla was eventually returned to its home. Lowland gorillas have reproduced twice in the Guadalajara zoo.

- Baird's tapir (Tapirus terrestris). The male tapir from the Guadalajara zoo, named Norton, was one of the tapirs used by Mel Gibson in the movie Apocalypto for the tapir hunt sequence at the beginning of the film. He is housed in the "Tropical Rainforest" section of the park, alongside with jaguars, monkeys, giant anteaters and river otters.

- Polar bear(Ursus maritimus). Famous because of the subaquatic exhibition where people can see the bears swimming and diving.

- Morelet's crocodile (Crocodylus moreletti). The most endangered crocodile in Mexico has reproduced well in the Guadalajara zoo. Many young crocodiles born to the zoo's reproductive couple Juanito and Rosita have been released in the Centla swamps, one of the Morelet's crocodile original habitats.

- A female Hippopotamus named Tequila was famous in the zoo because of its old age (40 years, which is the maximum lifespan for its species) and because it was part of the collection of the now disappeared Agua Azul zoological park. Tequila died recently, but new hippo calves have been born in the zoo.

- A male white alligator (Alligator mississipiensis) was a visitor to the zoo during the 90s. It was nicknamed El Gringo because of its white skin and blue eyes. This was one of the only 18 leucistic alligators known at the time.

The park is famous for several reasons, the most important being its collection of exotic wild animals, including some rare and endangered species including the White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum), African elephant (Loxodonta africana), Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris), and Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis).

It is also noted for being located on the Barranca of Huentitan (Huentitan Canyon), a natural park in the limits of the city which is in fact one of the natural spots the Zoo has been trying to preserve. Besides, the zoo is constantly opening new exhibits, both temporary and permanent.

Main attractions

The park has some permanent exhibits that are always opened to the public. The charge for these attractions is included with the entrance ticket.

- Herpetarium: Widely known as the largest reptile house in Latin America. It recently housed a frog exhibition, and among its common residents are many kinds of snakes, lizards, tortoises, fish and arachnids. The Herpetarium was part of the original design of the zoo, and today remains one of its most popular attractions.

-Aviaries: Birds are the most abundant kind of animals in the zoo. There are many large cages around the limits of the zoo housing large bird species, just like parrots, hornbills and several kinds of raptors (the central exhibit being that of the Golden eagle, which is the bird depicted in the Mexican coat of arms). There are also two large pyramidal aviaries that house songbirds and tropical birds, specially those found in Mexican territory, though there are some exotic species as well.

- Nocturnario: Named "Huentitan: Naturaleza de noche", the nocturnario is the largest in the country and houses mainly nocturnal animals from the neighboring Huentitan Canyon, including owls, raccoons, coatis, vampire bats, fruit bats and some exotic species like African porcupines, maras, Australian gliders etc. The exhibit is dark and cold and there are always sounds of crickets and frogs playing, to add to the feeling of being walking at night at the Huentitan canyon itself. Just outside the Nocturnarium there is a lake and an island where there are spider monkeys roaming free. The zoo has projects of conservation of spider monkeys (which are one of the two native species of monkeys of the country).

- Selva Tropical: This exhibit includes animals from the tropical rainforest ecosystems of four different continents. Among them there are jaguars, cassowaries, monkeys, sloths, chimpanzees and orangutans. Also, it is home to Norton, the male tapir that appeared in Mel Gibson's Apocalypto alongside with tapirs of other Mexican zoos.

- Safari Masai Mara : This is one of the newest exhibits in the zoo. It features animals from the African savannah, roaming free in a large, fenced area. Among its inhabitants there are zebras, buffalo, several kinds of antelopes, flamingo, cheetah and white rhinoceros. Visitors can take the ride on a train like vehicle, while a guide dressed as a member of the Masai tribe gives information about the animals, and also about some Masai traditions.

- Amazonia: Monkey Jungle: It is an exhibit where visitors can enter a large aviary like dome and feed squirrel monkeys.

- Villa Australiana: In this exhibit there are some Australian animals, the most famous now being the Red Kangaroo, but also Wallabies of two different species, several kinds of Australian parrots and parakeets, and, in temporary exhibit, koalas. There are plans to bring more Australian animals in the near future.

- Aquarium: The zoo's aquarium is now opened and in houses 95 species of fish and other aquatic creatures, including three species of shark, the nurse shark, the Milbert shark and the hammerhead shark.

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