The Rio Grande Zoo is located just a few minutes drive from Old Town at the banks of the Rio Grande River in southern Albuquerque and lies amidst an ancient grove of cottonwoods. Founded in 1927 with just a small collection of animals the Rio Grande Zoo now boasts almost 1200 animals and roughly 300 species. It is one of 4 parts of the Albuquerque Biological Park and stretches just over 2 miles. The other components of the biological park are the Albuquerque Aquarium, Rio Grande Botanic Garden and Tingly Beach. Rio Grande Zoo is home to various exotic and native species and covers over 64 acres of land. Notable species include elephants, chimpanzees, polar bears, gorillas, sea lions, giraffes, mountain lions, jaguars, zebras and orangutans. The animals at the Albuquerque Zoo are housed in natural habitats surrounded by rock work, water features, trees and grasses in modern exhibit designs to enhance zoo husbandry and create as natural a life as possible.
Albuquerque Zoo features a petting zoo for kids, bird shows, camel rides, a zoo train and a gift shop. Summer concerts are held every Thursday evening from June through to August and the River of Lights Holiday Light Display is held Tuesday to Sunday evenings in December. The park is closed December 24th, 25th and 31st. Sights are diverse and include exhibits featuring Africa, Australia and Tropical America. It is suggested that visitors allow at least 2-3 hours to enjoy the entire zoo at length. The best time to visit the zoo is the summer when visitors can experience the sights and sounds of the animals at their liveliest. Fees for adults are $10 and $3 for seniors and children 3-12 years old but check rates before visiting.
The sounds of seals and sea lions at the Albuquerque Zoo echo through the park during the Seal and Sea Lion Feeding Times. Massive seals and sea lions which normally lounge around lazily on rock formations lunge in the direction of their caretakers during the daily feedings at the Albuquerque Rio Grande Zoo. The hungry mammals seem clumsy and slow at first sight but put on quite an active show as they wolf down considerable amounts of fresh fish. Daily feedings of these massive beasts happened between 10:30 am and 3:30pm and are a highlight at the Albuquerque Rio Grande Zoo. The giant polar bears housed at the Albuquerque Rio Grande Zoo can smell their tempting meals long before the feeders arrive to dole out the goodies. Most of the bears normally avoid people but may approach out of pure curiosity. Other fun activities at the Albuquerque Rio Grande Zoo include the lorikeet feeding, alpaca and llama cruising, camel rides and the fascinating porcupine stroll.
Hotels near Rio Grande Zoo fairly easy to find and range
from moderately priced to very expensive. Since the zoo
is located so close to Old Town and other attractions there are plenty of hotels to choose from. Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town is surrounded
by 400 year old history, offers a unique blend of Western,
Spanish and Pueblo cultural influences and is one of the
hotels near the Rio Grande Zoo. The notable hotel features
188 guest rooms and includes 20 luxurious suites for those
seeking an extravagant setting. Another notable hotel
near Rio Grande Zoo is the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort
and Spa and is nestled in a quiet location that seems
far away from it all. The Pueblo-style resort features
Native American decorated rooms with patios or balconies
which provide generous views of the Sandina Mountains,
Bosque cottonwood forests and the golf
course which is a mere stone's throw away.