T and I just made it to a big work milestone, so we decided to take a few vacation days and continue our exploration of all of the sights of Buenos Aires!
One of the first items on our list was Bioparque Temaiken. It’s about 40 minutes outside of Buenos Aires (although a little longer for us, since our taxi got stuck in major traffic due to some sort of political demonstration). All in all, it’s about 50 km outside of the city in Belen de Escobar, which is a suburb of the city very reminiscent of a US suburb. It cost us about AR$170 (or approximately $14USD) each to get in. If you take a taxi, make sure they are willing to wait for you! There’s virtually no taxis in this area. Ours cost AR$1500 ($125) which included the ride there and back, plus four hours of waiting. There are buses that go there (see Viator for the most up-to-date offers) for about $50 per person, including admission and a private guide–but we figured that out after the fact.
We loved Temaiken. Their focus is on preserving wildlife, rehabilitating animals caught in the illegal exotics trade, and protecting wildlife native to Argentina. All of the enclosures were clean, airy, and bright, and you could get so close to all of the animals. We have never been to a zoo where the animals were so active and looked so happy. Although there are no guide books in English, it’s pretty easy to figure out which animal is which. They do have a 360 degree theatre, which offers one show a day in English. We missed that, though, because we were too busy watching all of the animals! We remarked several times that Temaiken felt like one of the most “American” things we’ve done down here–in that it was clean, modern, well-organized, and everything seemed to happen on schedule. They had several very cute playgrounds for kids, which were well maintained and the kids seemed to really be enjoying! Lots of shade, lots of places to stop and rest.
Another great kid activity? The farm animal/petting zoo area. It was filled with cows, chickens, sheep, and goats. Also–the lushest vegetable garden (or huerta) we have seen yet. We were definitely salivating as we looked at the huge vegetables, and plotting how to make our own huerta look half as good!
Bioparque Temaiken is just one portion of the Fundación Temaiken’s mission. Up in our neighboring province, Missiones, they have a full rehabilitation center. They also have a full breeding center outside of Buenos Aires (for those Smithsonian Zoo buffs, it works pretty much exactly like Front Royal). They attract a lot of school groups, and focus their efforts on educating kids to respect the environment, not keep exotics as pets, and teach them about their country.The main attraction was the monkeys, and they had cute little signs all around the park that said things like “Monkeys don’t wear deodorant,” “Monkeys don’t use WiFi,” and “Monkeys don’t use mattresses.” Very cute.
There was an on-site animal hospital showing some of the current animals that are receiving rehabilitation. There was an adorable baby aardvark there (did you know they cling to their mother’s back for the first nine months of their lives?), plus some snakes and lizards. In an outdoor pen, they had a sloth that had been hit by a car in Corrientes province (where we are) and received care, and a monkey that had been found in the black market.
The variety of animals was kind of astonishing–beautiful bright pink flamingos, various varieties of antelope, peacocks, yacares (crocodiles), and much more!
I think this is one of the only zoos I know of that has a bat (murcielago) exhibit–and you could even go into the enclosure on this one. These were vampire bats, and they were HUGE.
Our most exciting portion of the day was in the large bird area. T is apparently very popular with birds. We went up to an observation deck in the African bird area, and when we went down the stairs, a bird decided that a step belonged to him, and attacked T’s shoelaces. We had a small crowd watching as the bird pecked feverishly at T’s feet for a while. (No worries–he was wearing steel toe shoes, and we ended up going down the other set of stairs and retracing our steps.)
Later on, in the parrot area (which was awesome–you can get so close to such beautiful birds) there were two blue parrots that were not happy about life. They were cackling at people and being fairly aggressive. Unfortunately, they were also right next to the exit door. At one point, the birds flew at a little boy! Again, it was T to the rescue–he let the parrots attack his steel toes while I and some other zoo patrons made it through the door.
Temaiken even has an aquarium, complete with some great exhibitions on both local and more exotic fish. There’s a huge tank of rays (which are native to here–we see one near the dam at work all of the time), and there was a really impressive tank filled with giant rays, sharks, and some of the bigger fish. We couldn’t get great photos of that–too dark, but got some other good ones!
There was a part of the park more dedicated to local fauna–such as the rhea (sort of like a slightly smaller ostrich that’s brown), and maras (which are pretty much what you would get if you crossed a capybara/carpincho with a rabbit). Maras are one of the national animals of Argentina–and you’ll hear more about them in a later blog post!
All in all, we had a great time and highly recommend Temaiken to anyone who is visiting Buenos Aires and has a spare day to get out of the city center!