Zoo de CastellarLooking for something different to do with your family or visitors? Why not drive inland between Sotogrande and San Roque, towards the village of Castellar de la Frontera, and follow the brown road signs to the Zoo de Castellar?

No ordinary zoo, Castellar’s is actually a rescue facility which opened its doors to raise funds as well as awareness of the plight of its animals, while creating a fun and entertaining centre where visitors can learn about a diverse selection of animals from all over the world. Their mission is to provide a second chance and better living environment for these animals, which arrive here often after suffering extremely cruel treatment from black market traders and circuses.

When it opened to the public in 2002, Zoo de Castellar was one of the first zoos to really encourage interaction between the animals and visitors. In the new world of visitor participation, it’s perhaps not so unusual to be allowed to handle a reptile, but we don’t know of many other places where you can stroke a tiger! There are monkeys, hyenas, crocodiles, Vietnamese pigs, lions and emus enjoying their new lives alongside the more pedestrian guinea pigs and rabbits. Honey monkeys will wind their long tales around your neck, giant parrots will peck seeds from your hand and snakes will curl around your wrists – it’s really a fantastic experience – especially for children more used to seeing these sorts of animals cooped up in cages, on the television or behind glass screens.  Don’t expect high technology gadgetry – it’s more of a hands on family-friendly establishment with winding paths, caves to explore and surprises around every corner.

Zoo de CastellarCastellar Zoo is open daily from 10am to dusk. Entrance fees are 15 euros per adult or 9 euros per child, and there are discounts for pensioners and disabled visitors. The zoo is funded 100% by donations, entrance fees and animal sponsorship; it receives no assistance from the government, so needs our support.

For more information about the zoo and its work, visit

By Jackie Cruz - Manifesto · May 11th 2015