If the Central Valley is part of your upcoming Costa Rica vacation itinerary, be sure to include a visit to Alajuela’s Zoo Ave. While literally translated as “Bird Zoo,” this unique attraction is much more than a sanctuary for our feathered friends – Zoo Ave is a wildlife rescue and breeding center for the country’s orphaned and mistreated creatures. Managed by the Fundacion Restauracion de la Naturaleza, the non-profit refuge is home to more than 200 species, and boasts Central America’s largest collection of birds. Zoo Ave makes for a great Costa Rica activity for a family of all ages.
Feathered frenzy: Macaws, Peacocks and Quetzals
True to its name, Zoo Ave entices visitors with avian fauna of all shapes and colors – including parrots and peacocks that roam the grounds freely. The center cares for curassows, toucans, several types of endangered macaws that were once kept illegally as pets, along with the brilliant resplendent quetzal. With the help of specially-trained staff, volunteers and an onsite incubator, the zoo has successfully bred nearly 50 native species including scarlet and green macaws, black guans, and most recently, the king vulture. The new chick made headlines a couple of weeks ago, as this is the first of its kind to be bred in captivity in Latin America. Since the king vulture is on the verge of extinction, zoo keepers were thrilled with this latest addition to the refuge.
Zoo Ave: An ideal day trip for families
Spanning nearly 50 acres, Zoo Ave features a two-mile trail that winds beneath the shadow of towering bamboo. It’s a fantastic spot to spend a few hours and observe iconic wildlife that you may have missed on your nature tours. Giant iguanas stroll through the grounds freely, and guests can get up-close glimpse of peccaries, ostriches, cougars, crocodiles, deer, turtles, tapirs and several species of primates. Spider, howler, Capuchin and squirrel monkeys are all crowd pleasers with their playful antics and acrobatic moves. Many of the animals were rescued from the pet trade or arrived in poor health, and will spend the remainder of their lives as ambassadors for their kind.
Committed to wildlife conservation
Recognized for its wildlife preservation efforts, Zoo Ave is supported solely through the donations of its guests and though government funds. The veterinary staff work hard to rehabilitate injured animals and the center keeps a release site near Golfito in Piedras Blancas National Park. All entrance fees go toward the costs of food, maintenance and care of these animals. In short, the zoo is a terrific place to relax after a long day of adventure tours, or if you have a few spare hours before your departing flight from San Jose.
Zoo Ave fast facts
- Where: La Garita de Alajuela (15 minutes from San Jose)
- Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM daily
- Entrance Fee: $20 for tourists
- Nearby attractions: Poas Volcano (1.5 hours away)
Carara National Park (near Jaco, 1 hour away)
Manuel Antonio National Park (2 hours by car)
For more information about Zoo Ave, tour bookings or any vacation destinations, Escape Villas features villas and rental homes in popular locations throughout Costa Rica. Call toll free at 1 888 771-2976.