STOP Press! The Merida City Zoo Has Had A Facelift!
Previously, I have written articles about both the city zoos (of which there are two) and the quality of playgrounds in Merida. I have to say, the refurbishment of Merida City Zoo means I now have to go and update both these articles.
The Merida city zoo was always good for a day out, as long as you put your concern for animal welfare to one side on the understanding that the kids were going to have a great time. Not that most people go to this particular zoo to see animals, as far as I can tell, as it’s always the playground and train ride that seem to attract most visitors.
What Was There Before?
Well, this large zoo-park previously had animals, obviously, a large but pretty typical Merida style all metal playground, the to-be-expected trampolines, a few fairground rides, stalls selling junk food and the silly toys that are ubiquitous with open spaces in Mexico.
What Has Changed?
Playground and Entertainment
The playground is now ABSOLUTELY BLOODY FANTASTIC! Wow. What a transformation. It is clear that the local government is working quite hard to improve the quality of playgrounds around town and I, and my kids, are really impressed with what we’re seeing. My two were so excited yesterday.
The playground area has increased in size and has a number of distinct areas all with different themes. The flooring materials have clearly been thought about and the main area looks as if its made out of loose recycled rubber chips. If I were a kid, this is the first playground floor I think I’d be happy to fall on to!
There is accessible equipment including a see-saw and a roundabout both with proper seats and seat belts.
The old aeroplane with slides is still there, which made both my kids extremely happy.
The old trampolines have been removed to make space for the newly enlarged playground but we found three new ones over by the fairground rides. It costs $25 pesos for a 15 minute bounce.
The fairground rides all remain the same: small cable car, merry-go-round and a few other rides.
You can breathe a sigh of relief. The trenecito (little train) still costs a whopping $1 peso per rider! The waiting area has been upgraded but the train itself remains exactly the same, giving my kids great joy when we got on it. For the moment, tickets are still purchased in the old ticket booth but I suspect there are plans afoot to move this to the ‘train station’.
Tues- Fri: 10am- 1.45 then 3pm – 4.45pm
Sat- Sun: 9am – 4.45pm
(Remember, the zoo isn’t open on Mondays)
Food Options At Merida City Zoo
Instead of a number of tiny cafe type stalls selling food that would probably make you sick for a good few days, now we have a brand spanking new food court where you can buy snacks and full meals. The pizza place looks as if it is the same pizza sold in the railway carriage restaurant at the other end of the zoo, which means it’ll be pretty fine pizza.
Never fear though, the ice cream and junk food stalls are still scattered around the zoo too!
The old mosquito infested, water free bathrooms by the playground have been closed down and new ones opened on the other side of the food court. The amazing castle bathrooms remain open and pretty dingy. Yesterday the women’s was closed for lack of water but the men’s were open.
Well. The zoo area has been refurbished in some ways. They have painted a trail to follow on the ground. My kids adored chasing after it, especially where they had to ‘loop the loo’ for no reason at all. Small things!
The animals seem to be in pretty much the same dismal cages. Some of the primates may be kept in marginally better condition than previously, it looks as if the largest monkey area has some new toys but the chimpanzees looked as miserable as ever. Despite signs warning people not to touch or annoy the animals I still saw one girl, with her parents looking on, leaning so far over a wall to try and touch a monkey she almost fell in.
And the cats. Oh the cats. This zoo is home to some truly magnificent cats: jaguars, white tigers, lions and much more. But they’re in such miserable conditions that they just spend their time pacing. Not Ok.
Some effort seems to have been made to make wider barriers between animals and people. This can only be a good thing given the number of people I’ve seen trying to touch the primates on every visit I’ve made here.
No change to the other animal areas.
We always spend most of our time in the reptile house marvelling at the incredible snakes and watching the terrapins to see when they’ll fall / jump / be pushed in to the water. Makes us laugh every time.
Where Is Merida City Zoo And How Much Does It Cost?
The zoo is located on Ave Itzaes between calles 65 and 59. Entry is free. You can park on the roads around the museum, we would normally park on calle 59 by the Natural History Museum.
Don’t forget, the zoo is closed on Mondays!
The Ayuntamiento de Merida has done a truly fantastic job refurbishing the playground and bringing the facilities up to scratch without losing the gentle atmosphere of this lovely park. The zoo still leaves much to be desired and while it’s undoubtedly fun for little kids, it just isn’t somewhere many adults will feel comfortable given the poor facilities for the animals.