The campaign currently running at Lisbon’s Jardim Zoológico is asking the public to donate towards a very good cause. Visitors are being urged to help make a significant and lasting contribution to the continued survival of apes and their habitats.
Advertised under the banner Um Último Grito pelos Primatas! – One Last Cry for the Primates! – the initiative has seen Lisbon Zoo and other members of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) actively promote the welfare and sustainability of the world’s six species of great apes and 16 species of gibbons.
Monetary donations made by the public as they tour the zoological gardens will help meet the campaign’s objectives of increasing habitat protection and reduce habitat loss, reduce hunting and trade of apes, both live and dead, to change consumer behaviour to reduce pressure on apes and their habitats, and to raise €1 million (US$1.5 million) to establish a lasting fund providing ongoing financial support to ape conservation.
Special coin drops emblazoned with EAZA livery are strategically placed around the zoo, and of course there’s one right in front of the Primates’ Temple, a purpose-built enclosure housing splendidly built gorillas, agile chimpanzees and cheeky-looking gibbons. A dedicated visitor centre overlooking the compound has a permanent display of wall panels explaining more about the campaign (in English and Portuguese).
There are plenty of things to do at Lisbon Zoo. Everyone has a favourite animal and the chance to get up close and personal with some extraordinary species should not be missed.
Hogging the limelight are the white tigers – beautiful big cats whose numbers include some fun loving juveniles that don’t mind putting on a show for their audience now and again. Playful but powerful, these rare felines command awe and respect in equal measure.
Kids love zoos, and the Jardim Zoológico is a wonderland for the inquiring young mind. Family-friendly (children under three get in free), parents should make sure their little ones see the lanky giraffes, slumbering hippos, and of course those other big cats, the lions and cheetahs. Africa on your doorstep!
The zoo’s birdlife provide exotic colour and a piping, screeching soundtrack that sets the mind wandering down the Nile or the Amazon. Ponder the graceful flamingos and the exuberant parakeets. Study the toucans and their huge, rainbow bills.
Fancy a laugh? Check out the antics at the meerkat pen. Bolt upright as a Totem pole one minute, the next scurrying back into the nearest den – these sleek animals are surely one of nature’s great characters.
For more smiles, don’t miss the sea lion feeding session. Everyone has a splashing time when this lot get fed. Great fun, but somewhat noisy eaters it has to be said.
But for pure entertainment value, it has to be those happy, smiling dolphins and their acrobatic gymnastics at the Dolphins’ Bay show pool. These adorable mammals flip their stuff three times a day and theirs is the most popular attraction at the zoo.
The zoo is divided into two zones, with the animal enclosures separated from public amenities that offer several cafés and restaurants, a picnic area, gift shop, WC and a visitor support centre, among other facilities.
Jardim Zoológico is an ideal combination of fun, laughter and amusement, but the underlying message taken away from any visit is clear: the zoo’s mission is help protect wildlife under threat of extinction and to conserve species for future generations, and the partnership with EAZA is a shining example of how that can be achieved.
Not for nothing is the zoo’s motto, “For The Wellbeing Of All”.