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The Exotic Wildlife of Costa Rica: Top 5 Zoos You Must Visit

Costa Rica’s zoos are an excellent choice for families and tourists with children looking for an informative and enjoyable experience. These wildlife parks offer special programs designed for children, making the visit both fun and educational. The zoos often organize interactive sessions where kids can learn about the importance of wildlife conservation in a way that’s engaging and memorable. It’s not just a trip to the zoo; it’s a chance for your family to bond over the wonders of nature and instill a love for animals and the environment in the hearts of the youngest explorers. So, pack your bags and get ready for a family adventure filled with laughter, learning, and the magic of Costa Rica’s incredible wildlife.


Zoo 1: Simón Bolívar Animal Park and Botanical Garden

Located in San José, the  Simón Bolívar Animal Park and Botanical Garden  is a must-visit for nature lovers. This sprawling zoo is home to a wide variety of animals, including jaguars, monkeys, sloths, and colorful tropical birds. The park’s lush botanical gardens are also worth exploring, with a diverse collection of plant species that are native to Costa Rica.

One of the highlights of the  Simón Bolívar Animal Park  is the opportunity to see the majestic jaguars up close. These elusive big cats are known for their strength and beauty, and observing them in their natural habitat is truly a sight to behold. The park also offers educational programs and guided tours that provide valuable insights into the conservation efforts being undertaken to protect these endangered animals.

For those interested in learning more about Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity, the botanical gardens at the  Simón Bolívar Animal Park  are a treasure trove of information. With a vast collection of plant species, including orchids, bromeliads, and ferns, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of the intricate web of life that exists within Costa Rica’s rainforests.

Location: Calle 13, San José, Costa Rica

Hours: 9am–4:30pm (Daily)

Rate: $9 for adults and $7 for children and senior  (2024 rates)


Zoo 2: Las Pumas Rescue Centre

Located near the town of Cañas, the  Las Pumas Rescue Centre  is a sanctuary for injured, orphaned, and confiscated animals. The center’s primary focus is on big cats, including jaguars, pumas, and ocelots, but it also provides a home for other animals such as monkeys, sloths, and birds.

At  Las Pumas Rescue Centre,  visitors have the chance to observe these magnificent animals up close and learn about the challenges they face in the wild. The center’s dedicated staff and volunteers work tirelessly to rehabilitate and care for the animals, with the ultimate goal of releasing them back into their natural habitats whenever possible.

In addition to its conservation efforts,  Las Pumas Rescue Centre  offers educational programs and guided tours that provide valuable insights into the importance of protecting wildlife and the steps individuals can take to make a difference. It’s a place where visitors can witness firsthand the incredible resilience and beauty of Costa Rica’s native fauna.

Location: Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica

Hours: 8am to 4pm (Daily)

Rate: $12 for adults and $8 for children  (2024 rates)


Zoo 3: La Marina Wildlife Rescue Centre

Located northeast of Ciudad Quesada, in the Alajuela Province of Costa Rica the  La Marina Wildlife Rescue Centre  is a haven for injured and orphaned animals. The center specializes in the rehabilitation and release of marine wildlife, including sea turtles, manatees, and dolphins.

Visitors to  La Marina Wildlife Rescue Centre  can witness the amazing work being done to care for these vulnerable creatures. From nursing sick sea turtles back to health to providing a safe space for injured dolphins to recover, the center’s dedicated staff are on a mission to protect Costa Rica’s marine life.

Educational programs and guided tours are available for visitors, offering a unique opportunity to learn about the challenges facing marine wildlife and the steps being taken to preserve these fragile ecosystems. It’s an experience that will leave you with a deep appreciation for the beauty and importance of Costa Rica’s coastal habitats.

Location: Provincia de Alajuela, San Carlos, La Marina, Costa Rica

Hours: 8am to 4pm (Daily)

Rate: $6 (2024 rates)


Zoo 4: Africa Safari Adventure Park

Transport yourself to the plains of Africa without leaving Costa Rica at the  Africa Safari Adventure Park.  Located in the province of Guanacaste, this sprawling park offers visitors the chance to see a wide range of African wildlife up close.

As you explore the park, you’ll encounter majestic giraffes, powerful rhinos, and graceful zebras roaming freely in expansive enclosures that mimic their natural habitats. The park’s knowledgeable guides provide fascinating insights into the behavior and conservation status of each species, making it an educational and immersive experience.

In addition to the safari experience, the  Africa Safari Adventure Park  also offers other attractions, including zip-lining, horseback riding, and a petting zoo, making it a great destination for families and adventure enthusiasts alike. It’s an opportunity to witness the beauty of African wildlife and support conservation efforts right in the heart of Costa Rica.

Location: Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica

Hours:  8:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Daily)

Rate: from $39 to $159  (2024 rates)


Zoo 5: Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center (formerly Zoo Ave)

Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center  (formerly Zoo Ave) located in the picturesque town of La Garita, Zoo Ave is a haven for bird enthusiasts. This expansive zoo is home to over 200 bird species, including toucans, macaws, and hummingbirds, making it a paradise for birdwatchers.

As you stroll through the park’s lush grounds, you’ll be treated to a symphony of bird calls and vibrant displays of plumage. The zoo’s enclosures are designed to mimic the birds’ natural habitats, allowing visitors to observe these beautiful creatures in a setting that closely resembles the wild.

In addition to its bird exhibits, the zoo also houses a variety of other animals, including monkeys, sloths, and reptiles. The zoo’s educational programs and guided tours provide valuable insights into the conservation efforts being undertaken to protect these animals and their habitats.

Location: Alajuela, Costa Rica

Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Daily)

Rate:  $35 adults, $15 children (2024 rates)


Tips for visiting zoos in Costa Rica

  1. Plan your visit: Research the opening hours, ticket prices, and any special events or activities happening at the zoos you plan to visit. Some zoos may require booking, particularly during peak tourist seasons.
  2. Wear comfortable clothing and footwear: As you’ll be spending a lot of time walking and exploring, it’s important to dress comfortably and wear sturdy shoes. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, a hat, and insect repellent, especially if you’ll be visiting zoos located in tropical rainforest areas.
  3. Respect the animals: While it’s exciting to see animals up close, it’s important to remember that they are living creatures and should be treated with respect. Follow any guidelines or instructions provided by zoo staff and avoid touching or feeding the animals unless specifically allowed.
  4. Bring a camera and binoculars: Capture the memories of your zoo visits by bringing a camera to document the incredible wildlife you encounter. Binoculars can also be handy for spotting animals that may be hidden or at a distance.
  5. Support conservation efforts: Many zoos in Costa Rica rely on visitor support to continue their conservation work. Consider making a donation or purchasing souvenirs from the gift shops to contribute to these efforts.

A visit to Costa Rica’s zoos is not just an opportunity to see incredible wildlife up close, but also a chance to support conservation efforts and learn about the importance of protecting our planet’s biodiversity. From the majestic big cats to the vibrant tropical birds, these zoos offer a captivating glimpse into the rich and diverse fauna that calls Costa Rica home. Each zoo offers a unique experience that will leave you with a greater appreciation for the natural world. So, pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready for an unforgettable journey through the enchanting world of Costa Rica’s wildlife wonders.

If you want to be able to live among these incredible animals that reside in Costa Rica,  Flamingo Beach Realty  is top in their industry helping clients find vacation rentals and permanent homes in the beautiful beach towns in Guanacaste.  Please reach out today for more information how you too can join these animals in Paradise!


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