Wildlife in Southern Spain: Animals in Captivity and in Natural Surroundings in Andalucia
Visitors to the Costa Del Sol in Andalucia can enjoy a variety of wildlife at the many natural reserves, parks, marinas, aquariums and zoos, on the coast and inland.
Those interested in wildlife conservation will find the Costa del Sol a good base in Southern Spain for seeing a huge variety of animals: Wolves, crocodiles, dolphins, whales, sharks, tigers, giraffes, penguins, deer, flamingoes and much more, are all out there with most of the suggested parks, marinas, and the zoo close to the coast. Others are within easy reach and well worth visiting, since they offer first class opportunities to see the animals at close quarters.
Doñana is a World Famous Nature Reserve
Doñana National Park (pictured) is Spain’s most renowned birdwatching and wildlife conservation area, covering an area of 1300 sq kms. Located at the delta of the River Guadalquivir, it is made up of five ecosystems; 30kms of pristine beach washed by the Atlantic, dunes, marshlands, the lush green vera, and the forests.
Doñana is a haven for migratory birds and waterfowl, that arrive to the flooded marshlands for breeding. Rare and endangered species of wildlife are encouraged to breed in the more sheltered and protected areas of the park. These include the Imperial Eagle and the illusive Iberian Lynx; both these species have produced young in Doñana.
The park offers self guided walks and several 4×4 tours all year round.
Wild Animals from Five Continents
Selwo Adventure is in Estepona on the Costa del Sol: The park is laid out with a jungle theme, and houses animals from all five continents including elephants, giraffes, tigers, lions, bears, pandas, birds of prey and more. Camel rides, tours in 4×4 trucks, and the fantastic bird canyon, are just a few of the other attractions at this unique nature park, where the animals wander free in spacious surroundings.
Costa del Sol’s Modern Zoo
Fuengirola Zoo has no bars or cages and is a modern-day zoo where a tropical forest has been recreated to house all the animals. Glass partitions give visitors a clear view of all the animals in a jungle-like atmosphere. The zoo, which is located in the centre of Fuengirola, holds night visits in July and August.
Wolves in Natural Surroundings
Wolves can be seen close-up at the Lobo Park, just outside Antequera in the beautiful mountainous area of El Torcal.
Four species of wolves kept here are the Canadian timber wolf, the white Tundra Alaskan wolf, the European wolf from eastern Europe and Russia, and the Iberian wolf found in Spain and Portugal.
They all live happily in separate huge open areas and on the guided tour visitors get plenty of opportunity to see the wolves during feeding time. All the wolves here have been hand-reared, either at the park or at other zoos, and consequently are not shy of humans. The park holds unique howl nights during July and August.
Flamingos at Fuente Piedra Near Malaga
Spain’s largest natural lake is located at Fuente Piedra, 19k from Antequera and about l.5 hours drive from the Costa del Sol. This is a haven for birds and in particular the pink flamingo, that arrives in the spring to breed, with March and April being the best months to visit. Several view points are located around the lake and perhaps the trip could be combined with the Wolf Park, which is close by.
Sea Lions Dolphins and Penguins on Benalmádena Costa
All can be seen strutting their stuff at the Selwo Marina in the beautiful Paloma Park on Benalmádena Costa. Hens, cockerels, rabbits, birds, and waterfowl, roam around the park freely, and entertaining spectacles, exotic bird displays, and the only ice penguinarium in Andalucia, make this an essential day out. Sea Life in the marina is close by and could be visited on the same day.
Dolphins and Whales Out at Sea
There are many opportunities to go in search of dolphins and whales along the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines. Benalmádena, Fuengirola and Gibraltar marinas arrange dolphin watching trips all year round. Whales are frequently seen in the areas around the Bay of Algeciras, the coast of Cadiz and Huelva with several companies arranging trips from Tarifa which is close by.
Weird and Wonderful Sea Creatures at Sea Life
Benalmádena marina is home to the Sea Life Aquarium, where a large variety of sea life can be viewed up close. Particularly memorable is shark watching from a glass tunnel passing through the aquarium. Other facilities include a shop and mini golf.
Crocodiles on the Costa Del Sol
A wonderful professionally-run park where visitors can get really close to these fascinating creatures: Located in Torremolinos, the park is home to over 300 crocodiles, including Paco; a 600 kg monster croc! Species on show come from the Nile and other parts of the world and visitors can even have a photo holding a baby croc.
The breeding programme is extensive and visitors might even see an egg hatching. Facilities include a museum and wildlife video, guided tours, shop, and small animal farm for the youngsters.
Year Round Wildlife-Watching From the Costa Del Sol
All the above suggestions are year-round, although the sea trips will depend on the weather. Wildlife lovers should check with local tourist office sites for opening times, to avoid disappointment,