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Devilfish's Asian Adventure

Discussion in 'Asia - General' started by devilfish, 11 Feb 2013.

  1. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    Bioparc Fuengirola

    Wow! An amazing experience. This is the benchmark for small city zoos. This is a small zoo but very, very well done, ticking lots of boxes (including three species of great ape), and fantastically themed and landscaped. The zoo is an absolute pleasure to walk around and so many of the exhibits and enclosures are impressive on a number of levels. The show was also outstanding. There are obviously a few things that I'd like to change, but overall the zoo is of an incredible standard. I now really look forward to seeing a finished Bioparc Valencia - one day.

    Only half way through our visit, my family were all commenting individually that this is perhaps the best zoo they'd ever been to. Absolutely brilliant, and I'll try to make it back here before I leave. I'm keen to have a look at the zoo at night as it's currently open until midnight every day.

    This is probably my last collection in the area, unless I can come back early next week.
     
  2. sooty mangabey

    sooty mangabey Well-Known Member

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    I'm glad you liked Fuengirola - even though some of its faults are very obvious, i agree that it is a wonderful little zoo that is very nicely done indeed. If you can make it back for an evening, I'd recommend doing so. Some of the enclosures feature different animals at night, the show is very good and certainly worth seeing - and even the restaurant is rather nice!
     
  3. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    Thanks. I'll do my best to get back in time before flying back.
     
  4. Jackwow

    Jackwow Well-Known Member

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    Was thinking of going along tomorrow, what were the Rainforest and Rocky Shore exhibits like?

    I see what you mean about it being expensive (about 20 quid) so how did you wangle the expat price? ;)
     
  5. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    Both those exhibits are good - better than a normal Sea Life Centre, but they're not so much better that they're enough to merit a visit (apart from the giant rainforest fish tank). The reptile/amphibian collection is kept mostly in the rainforest area, and the rocky shore area is home to most of the 'Claws' tanks. What really sets the aquarium apart from the others in the chain are the large tanks, thoughtful (and sometimes impressive) exhibits, and the collection - particularly their fish.

    To get the expat price I just stood for a while chatting and joking to the reception staff. At first I pretended that I was a Thai student, and then just Thai, and then English but living in Thailand with my extended Thai family. All lies, obviously, and I didn't hide it. They refused initially (of course), but surprisingly when the guy went to press the button on the screen, I jokingly suggested again that he pressed the 'expat' button, and he did! It took a fair bit of work but by that point it helped to save my baht, and I felt that I'd have been a bit bothered by the aquarium not being reasonable value otherwise.
     
  6. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    So my family have now left, I rented a car this morning, and I'm doing a quick Andalusian road trip. Any spontaneous zoochatters are more than welcome to join :)

    Today was Almuñécar and Granada, tomorrow morning I'll stay in Granada and then head to Cordoba, and I'm thinking of spending tomorrow night in Sevilla. I'll then spend a couple of days hovering around Seville and Jerez before heading back to Malaga (where I fly out on Monday).
     
  7. sooty mangabey

    sooty mangabey Well-Known Member

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    Did you make it to the aquarium in Almuñécar? I am quite interested in this place: my parents in law live just north of the town, but I have not been there for quite a while. I would like to know whether the aquarium is of any quality at all. Of course, Almuñécar is remarkable for having three separate animal attractions! Alongside the aquarium is a rather horrid bird park, and then just north of the town is the extraordinary Peña Escrita – a place whose purpose I have never been able to understand.

    I'd also be really interested to hear about Cordoba Zoo...
     
  8. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    Almuñécar aquarium

    Let's start with Almuñécar aquarium. Dominating a small square in the town, it seems very nice but unfortunately it's closed at the moment for renovations (they're six months in and predict a re-opening within another three months or so, but there's no date yet). The flooring has all been removed, and so no visitors and minimal staff are allowed for H&S reasons.

    This is Andalucia's biggest aquarium (there aren't very many though), and is exclusively devoted to Mediterranean fish. Some have been sourced from elsewhere, however, including the pair of bull sharks - the highlight of the collection (from what I gather). I wish I could have visited properly, but it definitely seems like it's worth a visit when it's running normally again.
     
  9. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    Loro Sexi

    Almuñécar's small bird park is also closed for renovations. Home to around 80 different birds, little here seems of interest to those looking for rarities, although there are sulphur-crested cockatoos and a lone elderly palm cockatoo. The aviaries seem run down, but a major overhaul is taking place and should also be completed within a few more months.
     
  10. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    Peña Escrita

    I hadn't planned to visit here, but given that I spent just over an hour in Almuñécar instead of the predicted half-day, I made my way to Peña Escrita. Luckily I had some details with me.

    As sooty mangabey has mentioned, this is a strange place. Interesting though. The park is set on a very steep mountain side 45 minutes drive away (on difficult roads) from Almuñécar. Enclosures are often set away from the road, and signage is often outdated. Some of the enclosures therefore appear and disappear from view as you climb the mountain. There's a vague focus on native species, but there are also many exotics around. The enclosures are generally of a high quality and quite large, but there are several exceptions. It's impressive to watch the bears or the two wolf subspecies wander around across a huge area.

    The site also offers accommodation, a swimming pool and other facilities. Tours organised through the park take from 11am-5pm. I guess a lot of this time is spent swimming.

    I feel I missed quite a lot here, even though I really tried not to. (I only saw the Przewalski's horses as I was heading back downhill). This is a place where I think I'd really benefited from a guided tour.
     
  11. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    Parque de las ciencias

    Granada's modern high-quality science museum, this excellent place has a number of animal exhibits; a raptor show, a butterfly house, animals in the education centre and in temporary exhibits (jellyfish and zebrafish in 'Cerebro: viaje al interior', and a giant Ecosphere and a prawn tank in 'Aguas litorales más limpias'). Overall an excellent place. The butterfly house is small, but decent. The show is good but I found it unusual for the birds to spend most of the time on the falconer's hand while he gave educational talks. Interesting though.
    This comes in behind CosmoCaixa Barcelona, but the excellent standard of exhibits, intelligent activities and interpretive signage makes this a place to pass by if you're into science museums.

    I followed this with a nocturnal visit to the stunning Alhambra.
     
  12. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    Lobo park*

    This wasn't on my list - I didn't see the appeal at all, and didn't even bother to take down any details. How wrong I was.

    The route I took from Granada to Cordoba led me within a few kilometres of Antequera. With only a vague image of the online map for the wolf park in my head, I decided to try and go after wandering around the city.

    A nice park which can only be visited as part of a guided tour, enclosures are just large areas of fenced Mediterranean scrubland. Which is quite perfect. The park has four subspecies of wolf, and 14 individual Iberian wolves. All but four of the wolves in their care were born and raised at the park, and there are four coherent wolf packs. The enclosures are so large - and interaction so limited - that the park is used as an opportunity to study natural socialisation at close quarters. I saw a lot of interesting behaviours which I'd never seen so close before. Absolutely brilliant.


    *Lobo = wolf
     
  13. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    Cordoba Zoo

    A very nice small zoo in Cordoba. I was surprised by how nice it actually was. Neatly landscaped, very good signs and nice enclosures. Some were quite small and old-fashioned though. It feels like the kind of city zoo you would see in films but rarely in real life.

    I wasn't aware that they closed for the day at 2pm in the summer, and so my visit was cut short. Fortunately some of what I had left to see was visible through the perimeter fence, including the bare-eared squirrel monkeys.

    On entering the zoo, visitors can walk through a garden area through the main aviary (under renovation). There's a little bit of a vague geographic grouping system to the rest of the zoo.

    I can't imagine a very generous visit taking more than an hour and a half. Worth a visit if you're in Cordoba anyway, a beautiful city.

    A car tyre blew after my zoo visit, so I couldn't do much cultural stuff in Cordoba. All fixed now, and I'm in Sevilla. That might have put extra pressure on the next couple of days but hopefully all will be ok.
     
    Last edited: 19 Jul 2013
  14. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    La Reserva del Castillo de las Guardas

    What a great day. I started by visiting the cathedral and old city this morning, and then went on to Reserva del Castillo de las Guardas.

    I was in two minds about visiting, but a recommendation from Kifaru Bwana pushed me over the edge. This was only my fourth safari park ever. The reserve was pleasant with some amazing views. There were a lot of model dinosaurs about and a lot of the animals were incredibly curious.

    Outside the reserve is a small children's zoo, home to the ibis/stork aviary and a couple of other interesting bits.
     
  15. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    Mundo Park

    Seville's zoo, I was pleasantly surprised. I've not come across much material which talks particularly highly of this collection, but it was nice to walk around. It's a very practical zoo (for the humans, at least), with shaded walkways and interesting viewing areas. It made for a long visit which was pleasant. The map is also very good, listing the animals' individual names in some cases, which I thought was impressive.

    Given photos on the zoo's website, and offers on entry of photos with lions, lemurs, Iberian wolves, porcupines and other species, I was expecting a fairly shabby collection. I was pleased to be wrong. There are a lot of enclosures which desperately need improving, like the single olive baboon's cage which resembles a Victorian aviary.

    There was a collared dove trapped in the lone chimpanzee's viewing area. I tried to shoo it out but before I could, the chimpanzee started hitting the glass, which was already cracked. I quickly walked away. The (third) Iberian wolves' viewing panes also looked like they'd give way soon, so I'd expect this place to make the news unless the windows are fixed shortly.

    A theme park shares the same car park, I think, but it looks like it's no longer in business.
     
  16. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    Cañada de los pájaros

    An excellent bird park which I'm very glad I visited.

    Set around a large lake, this park features local bird life, with an incredible inventory on zootierliste.

    Very nicely done, although it's clearly on a bit of a budget. There's no official ticket desk, I had to look for some time to find someone to pay before I left. I think this visit has really encouraged me to admire European birds more.

    At each of the smaller aviaries, I picked up on something new almost every time I re-visited them. A tough place to leave. I spent a lot longer than intended here, and only left just before 9pm. :)
     
  17. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    Zoobotanico de Jerez

    Wow. Another brilliant day. I got up late, visited the Real Alcazar in Seville, and then later made my way to Jerez. En route I realised that I'd forgotten to look up route details for Exotic Jerez (it's hard enough driving in new cities without a GPS. No address or route knowledge make things even tougher) - there wasn't any problem though as it appears that they have merged their reptile collection with the zoo.

    Jerez got a headstart. I don't remember any other collection where I've been more focused on seeing a single species. I've had an incredible amount of good fortune this trip, and I hope it continues. On approaching the Iberian lynx enclosure, I could see the door to their night quarters was open, and the enclosure looked empty. I then rounded a corner to the second viewing window and found both of them sitting by the glass! I re-visited them later and came back before leaving to get better photos, but unfortunately they'd been taken in by then. I was happy.

    The rest of the zoo was better than expected. Some interesting animals (inc. Spanish Imperial eagles, an active European otter and a nice bobcat pair), and some nice enclosures. There are a number of enclosures to be improved, but overall it seems like a decent zoo. Their conservation work is phenomenal. A very satisfying afternoon.
     
  18. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    This adventure ends in just over 24 hours. :eek:

    I'm now in Fuengirola and will head over to the Bioparc shortly to dine and see it by night. I visited Zoo de Castellar this afternoon.
     
  19. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    Zoo de Castellar

    This is a strange collection located outside Castellar de la Frontera. It gets very good reviews from visitors. It is also undergoing extensive renovations so that what I presume was once a circular route around the zoo is now two dead-ends. It seems nice, but reminds me a bit of a falconry centre which has decided to take on more animals. Many of the enclosures feel slightly off, and it seems the current inhabitants weren't what the designers had in mind. There are some very interesting designs though, not least the small primate runs which overhead in many areas, or the baboon enclosure with a walk-through tunnel. A few animals are kept out of sight, only to be brought out to paying visitors. These include a kinkajou and a baby macaque. Overall it seems ok, but again I felt that a visit in a couple of years would hopefully better show off the place.
     
  20. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    Bioparc Fuengirola 2

    I've just got back to my hotel (round the corner) from Bioparc Fuengirola. Another good visit. I decided to blend an evening and night visit rather than paying separate entry and going again tomorrow. Again, I really enjoyed it. I was a bit more critical in looking at things this time, but it was still a very interesting visit. The show was excellent, again, but with some different touches (like an Iberian red fox and Cape genet). Dinner at the restaurant was very good too. Staff were brilliant, once again, and I was kindly taken on an after-hours (post-midnight) sturgeon-searching tour.

    I already look forward to returning.