Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Located 35 minutes south of downtown Puerto Vallarta in beautiful Mismaloya, "Zoologico de Vallarta" is built into the side of the Sierra Madre mountains, taking full advantage of the natural setting to create a lush, tropical experience for both zoo residents and visitors.
The zoo is home to more than 100 animals on the 12 acre space, including reptiles, birds, and mammals. Zoologico de Vallarta, which operates purely on admission fees and private donations, has a development plan that includes 146 more acres, an aquarium, a cable car, an amusement park, rental cabins, paths for walking and cycling, extreme sports, and a rappelling wall.
What makes this zoo so unusual is it provides the opportunity to hand feed the animals. Not just scattering grain to ducks or feeding miniature ponies, but hand-feeding camels, giraffes, hippos, bears, zebras, emus, and many more large and exotic creatures.
The most commonly heard phrase at the Puerto Vallarta Zoo is "Wow, I canít believe they let you do this!" But yes, in fact, the zoo sells snack packs for the animals for a very nominal fee. The snack kit is very charming with logos telling you which animal likes which snack and contains bread, carrots, pellets, peanuts, and corn.
And the animals? They are shiny-coated, clearly healthy, and interested in interacting with visitors - the snacks obviously have helped along in this process. Some of the cages are still being upgraded but Zoologico de Vallarta is dedicated to the preservation of animal species and providing animal education to the general public. Make a donation to their Adopt-an-Animal program, for a truly guilt-free experience.To learn more about Zoologico de Vallarta, click here.