We went to the Guadalajara Zoo (Zoológico Guadalajara) this weekend. When we arrived, it felt more like a theme park than a zoo, reminiscent of the San Diego Zoo entrance. We opted for the Diamante pack, which included the panoramic train, the chairlift ride over the park, and the Safari Masai Mara, which drove us through a space of land where antelope, hippopotamus, giraffe, and other exotic species of animals from Africa live harmoniously (I think) together.
Aside from the in-park tours, the rest of the park felt magical. The bird spaces were my favorite. The area where the swans live felt like something out of a fairytale. A quiet trickle from the river passing through the space made it feel more like a zen park than a cage for swans. We walked along the path, which meandered around the base of a giant square. Along the edges of the square, four netted walls came together at the top to make a large, garden-filled triangle.
Vines hung above us and trees hovered against the top of the cage. The intense Guadalajara heat was shaded by these trees and the area felt cool with the water flowing through. The swans floated peacefully in the water.
Just opposite this cage were the cages for tropical birds where the vibe was much more frantic. The miniature cockatoos flitted around from hand to hand as we all desperately held out little sticks with seeds stuck to them. Their backs were covered in bright colorful patterns. Their little eyes rested shut as they worked the seed for its inner flesh.
In these cages were Australian parrots, which gave us both a twinge of nostalgia.
We headed over to Villa Australiana for shits and giggles, calling to the kangaroos who laid in the opposite (and only) shaded corner lazily. I ached for the kangaroos back "home" in Queensland, who were spoiled with lush green grass and leaves.
We stopped at the wall with the Australian map and laughed at the inaccuracies, like, for instance, the fact that Tasmania (an entire state that is also an island) wasn't even on the map at all.
At one point, we headed into the Herpatorio, where all of the snakes lived. Each cage was filled with real soil and freshwater with actual filtered daylight filling the space. Real life plants grew in the soil and each cage had its own ecosystem. I'm not really a snake expert but I'd say they looked pretty happy, as such.
One snake, a massive rattlesnake, which gave B the creeps despite the sheer amount of snakes that cohabitate with people in Australia, followed me along the glass window. As I approached the snake, I said that this moment reminded me of the moment in Harry Potter when Harry talks to the snake at the zoo and his cousin falls in. I walked up to the glass window and knelt down so that I was at eye level with the snake.
I imagined what I'd say if I could speak Parseltongue, the language of snakes, and then mockingly hissed at him as if it meant something. I stood up and slowly began walking away.
And he slowly began following me, his head rising high and his nostrils seeking me out.
I stopped. He stopped.
I stepped toward the glass and bent over, looking him in the eye. "You really see me", I thought to him, hoping he could hear.
Other visitors came up behind me, watching the snake dance in front of me, waiting for me to move.
I stepped aside, hoping that the snake would be interested in them instead. Also, testing to see if we really had a connection or not, you know?
And he wouldn't have it, he swayed toward me.
I inched again to my right, laughing nervously, and the people to my left also inched to their right. I looked back at the snake. It swayed in front of me, its large diamond-shaped head searching for me through the glass.
I inched further and further to the right and, ultimately, to the end of his cage until I was out of eyesight. I looked back over my shoulder to see the snake's head swaying in between the gaps of people that were now crowding to look at it.
He was searching for me, obviously.
We walked our way all the way to the back of the zoo, where there were epic and calming views of Barranca de Huentitán Canyon. We stopped for a snack, which was surprisingly satisfying in the intense heat.
One of the many lovable things about this zoo is that there are picnic areas all throughout the zoo. All of them were shaded. Whether you want views of Huentitan Canyon or you want to sit and overlook wild animals, there are picnic areas wherever you want to be.
We saw crocodiles, a beautiful tiger, a polar bear, a white rhinoceros, spider monkeys, a massive hippopotamus, a lowland gorilla, some buffalo, all kinds of tropical birds, a whole giraffe family, and a bunch of other exotic species of animals that you never see together in one place naturally.
We felt like children running around the park, wide eyed and smiles plastered across our faces. Honestly, it's my favorite zoo in Latin America (so far!). We're already talking about going back another time to cover all the portions that we missed (like the aquarium).
But for now, we're getting ready to head to San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato for a couple of weeks. More on that next time.
Want to visit the zoo? Here are the details:
- GuadaZoo: $100 MXN pesos per adult
- Premiere: $305 MXN pesos per adult
- Diamante:$355 MXN pesos per adult (what we purchased)
How to get there and back:
- Uber from GDL to Zoo: about $150 MXN pesos
- Taxi from Zoo to GDL: $200 MXN pesos