Visit to Zoo Castellar

Our latest ‘Spain in Focus’ is all about a place which has become very dear to those of us associated with Zoo Castellar is a very special place. It is no ordinary zoo, rather a rescue centre for wild animals of all shapes and sizes.

All the animals at the zoo have all been rescued from situations where they were badly treated or not properly cared for. Some of them are wild animals that misguided (some might say ignorant!) people were trying to keep as illegal pets. Some have been rescued from circuses and animal shows that abused the animals both physically and mentally. The centre provides these animals with better living conditions and they are looked after by dedicated and knowledgable carers.

The purpose of the zoo is not just to care for the rescued animals. It is also to teach people – particularly children – about wild animals and how they should live.

Visitors to the zoo can buy small bags of food, and can feed and touch some of the animals. They will meet tigers, ostriches, rabbits, snakes, monkeys, eagles, majestic owls, crocodiles and even a hyena called Eddie (who someone was keeping as a guard dog!)

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At the momento, the star attraction is (what we believed was going to be) a white tiger cub. This so-called cub turned out to be the size of a small pony, which made the skill of his handler all the more amazing.

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Seemingly unphased by the fact that he could inflict serious damage on her should he so wish. She plays with him as if he’s just an overgrown puppy – games which they obviously both enjoy. Sadly, he will never return to the wild. His stunningly beautiful fur would make his chances of surviving almost non-existent.

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Another gorgeous animal that will live out her life in Zoo Castellar is the ocelot who can be found relaxing on her bed just inside the entrance. Like any cat, she loves a fuss and (under the watchful eye of one of the staff) we were happy to oblige!

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If you time it right, you might also see (and hold) a totally adorable baby ocelot too.

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Of course, while we were there we had to check up on Shira the tiger and Simba the lion who were just cubs last time we saw them. They are both now almost fully grown…magnificent creatures both.

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Despite all its good work, and the fact that it now looks after more than 500 animals, the zoo does not receive any state funding at all. It relies entirely on donations and what it can make from entrance charges. So, do yourselves, and them, a favour and take the family for a visit you will never forget.

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Post and images by photographer Derek Evans

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