Zoo de Castellar – Rescue Zoo SpainKeith
Zoo de Castellar – Rescue Zoo Spain
A few weeks ago we visited Zoo de Castellar a very special place which serves as a rescue centre for all sorts of wild and exotic animals.
Started as a private animal sanctuary way back in 1998, it actually opened to the public in 2002; this has to be one of the Coast’s best kept secrets!
What an amazing day out it turned to be.
Zoo de Castellar is located just outside the town of Castellar de la Frontera, about 10 minutes inland from Sotogrande. . It’s probably about 1.5 hours away by car from Benalmadena, but well worth the journey 🙂 and is close to Gibralter.
I had been warned that this is not your typical zoo; this became obvious the minute we walked through the main gates and saw the gorgeous lion cub sitting in the cool shade whilst brave visitors attempted to get close enough to pet him and take that coveted photo. Yes you can pet a a rather large tiger cub, under the keepers watchful eye of course. And we did, amazing.
All the animals you will meet at Zoo de Castellar have been rescued from circuses, illegal trafficking, customs or police. They now have over 500 animals, and 120 different species which make for a very interesting and educational visit.
The zoo survives solely on donations, sponsorship and the entrance fees; however, the fact that it receives no government assistance means that it’s a constant struggle to keep up the amazing work they do with these animals. Work to improve and upgrade their installations is never ending; however, be prepared for basic facilities.
Don’t let this lack of fancy installations put you off; the real attraction here is the interaction with the animals. You can buy small bags of seeds for €1 and are encouraged to feed all the animals as you make your way around. This certainly makes for some fun photo moments. Try feeding the Ostrich.
You’ll meet tigers, emus, ostrich, rabbits, snakes, monkeys, eagles, vultures, Vietnamese pigs, crocodiles, and even a Hyena named Eddie! The zoo’s staff are extremely friendly and knowledgeable, encouraging you to interact with the animals and providing fascinating information about their habits and characteristics. My girls even got to hold a baby python!
Some parents might be a little concerned or wary about allowing their kids to get so close to some animals; however, at no time did we feel unsafe as all the staff did a fantastic job making us feel at ease at all times. It really is an experience your kids will never forget! They invite you into enclosures to feed the animals, heres a tip, take some chopped up fruit and veg. with you.
The animals are eventually re-homed to worthy places around the world where they are looked after properly. The inmates are coming and going all the time so the attractions are never the same.
Future plans for the zoo include a large 7 metre x 2 metre tank which will be home to two black tip reef sharks. Apparently, the braver visitors will have the opportunity to slip into a wetsuit and jump in the tank to feed the sharks!