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Home » The Sights

The National Zoo: More than you imagined
Submitted by dr1guide on August 1, 2009 – 10:41 pmOne Comment

National_Zoo_1According to new zoo director Patricia Toribio, the National Zoo has made a comeback. She and her team are now in charge of continuing government and community-support programs that have once again put the zoo on the must-see attraction list of Santo Domingo.

Covering an area over one million square meters in size, the National Zoo is the largest in the Caribbean and impressive to say the least. While it is a zoo, it is also a wondrous walk through lush tropical landscape, making it well worth a visit with or without children in tow.

Animals one would never expect to find in Santo Domingo roam free in the park’s expansive grounds, and in many cases only a fenceless narrow trench separates you from lions, rhinos, hippos, tigers, zebras, chimpanzees, antelopes, buffalos, hyenas and many more. Recent improvements under way are updating the 33.year old infrastructure to the 21st century.

Obviously, it’s the animals that truly enjoy the improvements that have come with the development of new sources of funding. “They eat better than I do,” says the park director with a smile. Anyone visiting at feeding time will note that many of the animals are being given fresh fruit.

The Zoo feels a lot like a refuge from the busy city streets of Santo Domingo. Besides its many animal exhibits, the park features natural clear water lagoons, endemic fauna, a motorized train if you get tired of walking, a picnic area and even a brand new children’s zoo where kids and adults can get up close and personal with farm animals, parrots, ponies, monkeys and turtles. According to Toribio, of all the animal exhibits, Toby the chimpanzee is the most popular.

“He’s funny,” says Toribio. “We taught him how to drink water from a bottle for his medicine. People just go crazy when they see him opening the bottled water himself.”

Another star of the Zoo is Tito, a small monkey roaming free in the trees above the children’s zoo. Tito has been taught to hold his belly whenever he feels hungry, and to milk this talent, he spends much of the day pleading with zoo employees for his two guilty pleasures – watermelon and corn flakes.

The park’s impressive exhibits of birds, reptiles and mammals might give visitors the impression they are strolling through an African safari park. One would be hard pressed to find a zoo where onlookers can get this close to some of the most exotic animals on earth.

Visitor information
Open Tues-Sun 9am-5pm. Closed Mondays. Foreign Adults RD$175; foreign children RD$105. Children’s zoo, RD$25. Ave. La Vega Real, Arroyo Hondo, 809.378.2149; zoodom.gov.do.

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One Comment »

  • I am in love with these flamencos. I even have a bit of a thing for the snakes. At times I am a bit lost in the Zoo. I would like to know more about how I could become a Friend of the Zoo and help support it. I understand that we have been given a couple of kangaroos, from Holland, which seems and odd place for them to come from, but who knows……..OK,,, if you are a first time visitor, you may not actually see the animals because the Zoo is big, and the animals, are well hidden.

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