Despite the word ‘Jardim’ in the title, the Lisbon zoo is all about the animals. Small by international standards there are nevertheless over 2,000 animals ranging over 400 species housed here.
Lions roam a large display and make their presence known in a city full of distractions. Several other large cats, leopards and tigers prominently, wander to and fro as if stalking their prey.
Not far away are some animals that look as if the cats think they might serve that purpose: baboons. They scamper around, shrieking and flipping around, perfectly safe from everyone but themselves. A patient wait near the cage will show visitors how they establish dominance within the pack when that screech is turned on a member lower in the hierarchy.
Chimpanzees are close by, as well. In typical fashion, they’ll happily climb a rope, grab the top of the cage and give a shout to anyone looking. Oftentimes they’ll approach the front of the cage, looking for food and attention. Visitors will sometimes accommodate them, unleashing a wild display of cartwheels and grunts.
The elephants look on from enclosures a short walk away. Six currently call Lisbon Zoo home, some of whom were born there, others captured in the wild. They range from friendly old males to curious youngsters who wonder what all the fuss is about in the monkey cage.
The black bears perk up and notice that the elephants have stirred. That puts them in motion, ready for a meal from tourist or zookeeper. They’re not particular. But they’ll reward either with a loud growl and an amusing romp around the cage with their friends.
Wander along the cool grassways and visit some of the cattle, who laze contentedly in the hot Lisbon sun as they munch on some grass. Slake your own thirst as you watch the local species that are just enough different from those elsewhere to be interesting.
Stroll over to the Reptile House and see some of Portugal’s local species of lizard and snake. The kids will be fascinated, priming them for a visit to the Children’s Farm where they can interact with small sheep and other gentle creatures.
Unlike some zoos there are also a number of aquatic species to delight young and old alike. See the sea lions being fed, then wander over to Dolphin Bay and watch these fascinating creatures at play. After the dolphin show, stick around and have a photograph taken standing next to the friendly seal.
The zoo is easy to reach by taxi or tram. Or, walk to Parque Eduardo VII and head to the highest point. On the way, enjoy the views of the River Tagus and other sights of Lisbon.
Spend an afternoon at the Jardim Zoologico de Lisboa and see what all the excitement is about!