Zoo de Castellar in Cádiz province, Spain, is a rescue centre for animals and birds, a private initiative which opened in 2002. The inmates come from a variety of sources – zoos, circuses, private individuals and Customs – and the centre endeavours to find new homes for them, a difficult task and not always possible of course.
There may not be a huge number of animals – possibly a good sign – but one can still spend many hours interacting with the residents. You can go into the aviary and feed a great variety of exotic birds – parrots, Macaws, Canaries, Java Sparrows etc – and they will perch on your shoulder/head/arm as you wander around and feed them.
You get to meet and even hold/stroke several species of animals – Bengal Tiger cub, Honey Bear, snakes, African Lynx, Llama, goats, Sloth, Harris’s Hawk and more – and feeding of many birds and animals is permitted. Being nose to nose with a Sloth is quite something.
The small band of ‘carers’ certainly display a passion for their charges and are extremely knowledgeable.
The area is well laid-out and there is a cafeteria at the entrance as well as a number of ‘rest areas’ with benches and tables. Taking your own food/drink is no problem, unlike in many similar places, as they seem to be more interested in caring for the birds and animals and encouraging interaction rather than fleecing a captive audience. Fair play.
Entry is €15 (€10 for children) and bags of food (for the birds and animals) are on offer at €1. There is a small gift store with the usual cuddly toys etc.
Zoo de Castellar
Cerro del Moro s/n
11350 Castellar de la Frontera
Open every day of the year from 10:00 to 20:00