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|Location||Guadalajara, Jalisco, México|
|No. of animals||2,200|
|No. of species||360|
Zoológico Guadalajara (Guadalajara Zoo) is the main zoological park in the Mexican city of Guadalajara, Jalisco, and is widely considered the most important in Latin America.[who?] It is the largest in the country with respect to species population.
Zoológico Guadalajara started operating in 1988 as a project to promote conservation and research. As the first true zoo of the city, and the largest in the state of Jalisco, the park has been enormously successful and is one of Guadalajara's most popular tourist attractions.
The Guadalajara Zoo is noted for its diversity of species, especially birds. There are many species of mammals as well, including some endangered species from Mexico and elsewhere: Bengal tigers, jaguars, lions (including rare white lions), leopards (including black panthers), orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, African elephants, white rhinoceroses, three species of crocodiles (Nile crocodile, Morelet's crocodile and American crocodile), Aldabra giant tortoises, giraffes, American bison, American black bears, red kangaroos, Komodo dragons, reticulated pythons, green anacondas, monocled cobras (including albine specimens), golden eagles, ostriches, cassowaries, and more.
Some species are important for conservation; for example, the zoo has bred the rare Mexican wolf, as well as the endangered Morelet's crocodile.
The aquarium at the zoo recently opened a new jellyfish display and jellyfish culture lab, the first in this part of the world.
Among the most famous animals in the zoo's collection are:
- Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris). White tigers have been one of the zoo's main attractions almost since the park opened its doors. One of them, a snow white tigress, is the mother of Montecore, the tiger who mauled Roy Horn from Siegfried & Roy. Many of the white tigers used by Siegfried & Roy in their show were born in the Guadalajara Zoo. The zoo also has normal coloured tigers. Six litters of Bengal tigers have been born in the zoo, all of them sired by the park's resident tiger Niño, who has the tiger's normal coloration but also white genes on his own heritage, which enables him to sire both orange and white cubs.
- Lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Gorillas are among the zoo's most famous inhabitants. The silverback male, nicknamed "El Chato" by its handlers, escaped its enclosure once terrorizing visitors, but no one was hurt and the gorilla was eventually returned to its home. Lowland gorillas have reproduced twice in the Guadalajara Zoo.
- Baird's tapir (Tapirus terrestris). The male tapir from the Guadalajara Zoo, named Norton, was one of the tapirs used by Mel Gibson in the movie Apocalypto for the tapir hunt sequence at the beginning of the film. He is housed in the Tropical Rainforest section of the park, along with jaguars, monkeys, giant anteaters and river otters.
- Polar bear (Ursus maritimus). Famous for the subaquatic exhibition where the bears can be seen swimming and diving.
- Morelet's crocodile (Crocodylus moreletti). The most endangered crocodile in Mexico has reproduced well in the Guadalajara Zoo. Many young crocodiles born to the zoo's reproductive couple Juanito and Rosita have been released in the Centla swamps, one of the Morelet's crocodiles' original habitats.
- A female hippopotamus named Tequila was famous in the zoo because of its old age (40 years, which is the maximum lifespan for its species) and because it was part of the collection of the now disappeared Agua Azul zoological park. Tequila died recently, but new hippo calves have been born in the zoo.
- A male white alligator (Alligator mississipiensis) was a visitor to the zoo during the 1990s. It was nicknamed El Gringo because of its white skin and blue eyes. This was one of 18 leucistic alligators known at the time.
The park is famous for several reasons, the most important being its collection of exotic wild animals, including some rare and endangered species including the white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum), African elephant (Loxodonta africana), lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris), and Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis).
It is also noted for being located on the Barranca of Huentitan (Huentitan Canyon), a natural park in the limits of the city which is in fact one of the natural spots the zoo has been trying to preserve. The zoo is constantly opening new exhibits, both temporary and permanent.
The park has some permanent exhibits that are always opened to the public. The charge for these attractions is included with the entrance ticket.
- Herpetarium: Widely known as the largest reptile house in Latin America. It recently housed a frog exhibition, and among its common residents are many kinds of snakes, lizards, tortoises, fish and arachnids. The Herpetarium was part of the original design of the zoo, and today remains one of its most popular attractions.
- Aviaries: Birds are the most abundant kind of animals in the zoo. There are many large cages around the limits of the zoo housing large bird species, just like parrots, hornbills and several kinds of raptors (the central exhibit being that of the golden eagle, which is the bird depicted in the Mexican coat of arms). There are also two large pyramidal aviaries that house songbirds and tropical birds, specially those found in Mexican territory, though there are some exotic species as well.
- Nocturnario: Named "Huentitan: Naturaleza de noche", the nocturnario is the largest in the country and houses mainly nocturnal animals from the neighboring Huentitan Canyon, including owls, raccoons, coatis, vampire bats, fruit bats and some exotic species like African porcupines, maras, Australian gliders etc. The exhibit is dark and cold and there are always sounds of crickets and frogs playing, adding to the feeling of walking at night in the Huentitan canyon itself. Just outside the Nocturnarium, there is a lake and an island where spider monkeys roam free. The zoo has projects of conservation of spider monkeys (which are one of the two native species of monkeys of the country).
- Selva Tropical: This exhibit includes animals from the tropical rainforest ecosystems of four different continents. Among them there are jaguars, cassowaries, monkeys, sloths, chimpanzees and orangutans. Also, it is home to Norton, the male tapir that appeared in Mel Gibson's Apocalypto along with tapirs of other Mexican zoos.
- Safari Masai Mara : This is one of the newest exhibits in the zoo. It features animals from the African savannah roaming free in a large, fenced area. Among its inhabitants there are zebras, buffalo, several kinds of antelopes, flamingo, cheetah and white rhinoceros. Visitors can take the ride on a train-like vehicle, while a guide dressed as a member of the Masai tribe gives information about the animals and Masai traditions.
- Amazonia: Monkey Jungle: It is an exhibit where visitors can enter a large dome and feed squirrel monkeys.
- Villa Australiana: In this exhibit there are some Australian animals, the most famous now being the red kangaroo, but also wallabies of two different species, several kinds of Australian parrots and parakeets, and, in a temporary exhibit, koalas. There are plans to bring more Australian animals in the near future.
- Aquarium: The zoo's aquarium houses 95 species of fish and other aquatic creatures, including three species of shark, the nurse shark, the Milbert shark and the hammerhead shark.