Zoos aren’t exactly popular in Puerto Rico. But that’s to be expected in an island nation where the beaches are spectacular and the night life is never dull and boring. There are simply too many fun things to do and so many fascinating places to visit. People just don’t come to Puerto Rico to visit animals in captivity.
So, understandably, in all of Puerto Rico, there’s just one zoo. It’s called the Zoológico Dr. Juan A. Rivero or the Dr. Juan A. Rivero Zoo. But most people just call it the Mayaguez Zoo because it’s near the city of Mayaguez. But even though it’s not very popular, it’s actually a nice place to visit with the whole family. It’s a nice break from all the frenetic beach activities, and it offers a surprising display of animals. Here is a brief video about the Zoo that will give you a better idea what to expect on your visit:
There are more than 600 species of animals here. Foremost among them is of course the famous Mundi the elephant, who seems too intelligent when you think about it. You don’t really expect to find elephants in Puerto Rico, along with lions, tigers, rhinos, and hippos, but they’re all here.
You can also enjoy three special areas here. Just be aware of when they are available, because they may not be open during the lunch hours. These buildings are monitored, and sometimes you may have a zoo rep walk you through the area.
One is the aviary, and here, you can find a large area enclosed by netting through which you walk among the birds on a pathway. Parrots and other birds fly all around, while other birds such as owls and eagles are in cages.
You can also find a rather exciting traipse through the mariposa, in which you will find beautiful butterflies fluttering around and sometimes perching on you. This leads right to the arthropod museum, where you find the bugs behind glass along with other insects and spiders.
Finally, there’s also the house for amphibians and reptiles. Here you find the snakes and lizards, with local animals as well.
There’s also a marine mammal rescue hospital, and you can enjoy educational programs as well as conservation efforts to help local species.
You will need about three hours or so to see the whole zoo. There are guides who speak English very well, although they may have different presentations for adults and for kids. Most of the areas are wheel-chair accessible.
As of 2014, the entrance fee is $13 for adults (12 to 64 years old). Younger children and seniors pay only $6.50, while children younger than 5 years old can come in for free.
The animals look great and healthy, so that’s always comforting. The grounds are well-kept and there are lots of resting areas and restrooms. Many refreshment machines are scattered around, and the gift shop is always a treat to visit. For a family with children, a visit here can seem like a nice break from all that beach and pool fun.