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Want to escape the hustle and bustle of downtown Cali? Then the Zoológico de Cali is the place to be. This zoo is the best in Colombia and perhaps even one of the best in South America, not only because of its impressive collection of birds, reptiles, mammals, butterflies and fish, but also because the animal welfare standards are so high.
Armadillos, tigers, flamingos, cobras and of course condors, the national bird of Colombia: around 180 different animal species can be admired within the walls of the Cali Zoo. The animals are housed in a 10-hectare terrain with lush green gardens, lakes and bushes. Various walking trails lead to the animal enclosures. And although the zoo offers several cafés and restaurants, it is even more fun to bring a picnic. Spread a blanket on the banks of the Cali River - look for the designated meadows surrounded by flowers.
When the Zoológico de Cali first opened its gates in 1971 it had a paltry collection of animals, nothing more exciting than a few pigeons, ducks and llamas. These were housed in tiny dirty cages and received just the basic care and a minimum amount of food. Together with the local government, Zoológica de Cali foundation introduced major changes. The old cages were replaced with brand new accommodations, taking into consideration the original habitats of the different animal species. Special attention was directed towards the diet of the zoo animals to ensure this was completely aligned with their specific needs. When the zoo reopened again 10 years later, its number one priority was animal welfare. And in 2011, the zoo proudly celebrated its 40th anniversary with its impressive collection of healthy animals.
Cnr Carrera 2A Oeste & Calle 14 Oeste, Cali
The Cali Zoo is very easy to navigate: there are 5 sections for 5 different types of animals. The mammal section includes lions, bears and monkeys. Chameleons and crocodiles are found in the reptile house. The bird habitat is home to squawking macaws and toucans. Another fascinating exhibit is the ‘mariposario‘, where more than 800 butterflies flutter freely. Here you also see how the caterpillars and cocoons eventually transform into butterflies. The Zoológico de Cali also features 9 freshwater and 10 saltwater aquariums with various species of fish and turtles.
In addition to being a tourist attraction, the Zoológico de Cali is also an important research centre. One of its main missions is to preserve Colombia’s biodiversity, one of the most varied in the world. The centre has developed a successful reproduction programme for condors and so far it has produced 5 babies that have already been returned to the wild. The zoo also researches animal habitats in the wild, which will assist in the preservation of species.