In Valencia there is a river without water – the river Turia. Therefore, at the lung of the city, many buildings have been established to form the Turia Garden. As I expect, tourists will choose the route towards Palau de la Música (The Opera house) and the City of Arts and Sciences. However, it is worth grabbing your map again and try to head in another direction, where you will find Cabecera Park and Bioparc Valencia, one of the greatest attractions in the city, especially if you love animals. That was exactly what I and some other international students did last Saturday. Follow our small journey!
We met at Turia metro station and started our morning exercises by walking 1.5 km through the green area. You can also come by metro, which is the stop Nou d’Octubre, but it was a Saturday and we wanted to enjoy fresh air and early sunlight. The vegetation of the Cabecera Park is formed by riverside forests, Mediterranean pine forests and exotic trees. In total, more than 4,145 trees, 30,900 shrubs, 72,700 upholstery and 156,300 square meters of meadow have been planted in just over two years.
The most exciting point was climbing up the hill – visual landmark of the park. From its viewpoint, we could see Bioparc Valencia: the scene was breathtaking!
Back to my childhood during 3 hours
If Cabecera Park has the rich flora, Bioparc Valencia possesses a great variety of fauna. More than 50 different animals are living in this semi-wild habitats, dividing into four sections: The African Savanna, Equatorial forest, Wetlands, and Madagascar. The fact that visitors can actually get to see big as well as small creatures from the famous ‘The Lion King’ film is one of the goals of the park, apart from passing on the love and awareness for nature.
I will tell you the most impressive features I have experienced during my visit so you can see why children love to come here. The first aspect is the giraffes, the chimpanzees and for sure other species with more complicated names. I spent a while to figure out the giraffes family members. For instance, Zora is a female and was born in 2006 as shown in the gallery. In contrast, I did not know the names of the chimpanzee until a member of the staff started calling their names, and interestingly, some of them reacted by turning the look towards him! As far as I can remember there were Eva, Natalia and they will pay attention to the voice that they recognise.
You have a birthday, so do baby animals! I have seen how thrilled were the boys and girls when they told their parents: “Look, this animal was just born last year!” Yes, we also shared the same feeling when we saw the Orycteropus newborn baby. During the visit, it caught my attention that many species gave birth to their babies last summer, during the months of July and August.
In my country, animals in zoos are in cages, even the birds. Here I felt the sensation of freedom, especially from the medium to small-sized animals. In the Madagascar zone, the lemurs were bathing in the sun in the middle of the tourist walking side; that means they are very friendly and weren’t afraid of us!
I think all the animals are from Africa mainly because of the climate similarities; with more than 300 days of sun, Valencia seems to suit all. My final conclusion is the presence of baobab tree, an icon of the African continent, known as African tree of life. They can live for up to 5,000 years, reach up to 30 metres high and up to an enormous 50 metres in circumference. Even though it is harder to visit African countries, we still recognise baobab due to its appearance in Disney’s Lion King, Avatar (The Tree of Souls), Madagascar and the famous children’s novel The Little Prince. Did you notice?
In addition, in case you want to discover everything, do not miss the cinema time, talk with the zookeepers, brunch with animals (gorillas, elephants), an exhibition of birds and mammals in an amphitheatre. I think with those activities, you will definitely enjoy your experience in Bioparc Valencia…in the middle of the city!