When visiting Albuquerque, New Mexico, make sure to schedule a day to visit the zoo. It's not just any ordinary zoo.
The ABQ BioPark (short for biological park), formerly the Rio Grande Zoo, features 64 park-like acres with 12 separate exhibit areas focusing on animals from around the world. You'll find 200 different species here, including lions and tigers and bears, toucans, koalas, and reptiles, seals, apes and zoo babies.
ABQ BioPark Exhibits
In addition to animals from New Mexico, exhibits present the animals of Africa, Australia, and tropical America. One of the newest features is the endangered species carousel.
Exhibits educate and offer information about wildlife and the conservation efforts taking place in their natural habitats.
Animal Highlights At the Zoo
A few of the many species you can see at the BioPark include:
- Big cats
- Mexican gray wolves
- Polar bears
- Seals and sea lions
- Zoo babies
In addition to the exhibit areas, the zoo offers other activities. There are daily feedings of the polar bears, seals and sea lions that can be seen year-round. In the summer, kids can feed the giraffes or lorikeets. From April through mid-October, the World Animals Encounters show at the Nature Theater features animals flying, crawling and climbing across the stage.
When volunteers are available, you might get a chance to meet a porcupine, macaw, alpaca or llama up close.
And Story Time Station brings the stories of animals to young children weekly in the summer months.
The zoo is a wonderful place to bring a wagon and picnic lunch. Don't have your own wagon? You can rent one, as well as a stroller or wheelchair. The large park near the amphitheater has shady trees and grass, so bring a blanket and spread out with a picnic or just to rest and let the kids run off energy.
If you don't feel like packing a lunch, the zoo has four cafes and snack bars. And yes, there are several places to buy ice cream.
Kids can stuff their own animal at Critter Outfitters. There are two gift shops: one near the entry and the other in the Africa exhibit.
Prepare For Your Visit
Visiting the exhibits takes roughly two to three hours. Be sure to wear a hat and wear sunscreen, even in winter. Walking is generally flat, with a few areas having gentle grades and inclines. Anyone with difficulty walking may want to consider a wheelchair. To walk the full length of the zoo is not quite two and a half miles.
In addition to visiting the zoo's exhibits, there are annual events that are favorite activities for locals. In the past, an annual Mother's Day Concert, featuring the New Mexico Philharmonic Orchestra, was a packed event. BioPark members got into the concert free of charge. There has also been a Father's Day Fiesta with mariachi music. Every summer, the Zoo Music concert series brings music to the zoo's park, and visitors get to visit the animals prior to the show.
The Zoo Boo, which happens every year before Halloween, is a wildly popular venue for safe trick or treating and gives kids yet another chance to dress up in costume.
And the Run for the Zoo typically happens the first Sunday in May, bringing fitness to everyone while raising funds for the Albuquerque BioPark.
More About the Zoo
Address: 903 10th St. SW, Albuquerque
Hours and admission: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Ticket booths close 30 minutes before park closing. Extended summer hours June through August: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and summer holidays (Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day). Closed Jan. 1, Thanksgiving and Dec. 25.
Tickets: Check the website for ticket prices. To save money, ask about military discounts and membership cards. Also look for discounted tickets on select days. You can usually find half-price days every three months, in January, April, July, and October. Bring extra money if you want to ride the Zoo Train or Member Train.
Getting there: The zoo is located just south of downtown in Barelas. By car, take Central Avenue to 10th Street and turn south (a left if traveling west, a right if traveling east). Drive about eight blocks and find the zoo on your right. There is plenty of parking at the zoo, with several lots. Parking is free. By bus, take the 66 line to Central and 10th. The zoo is eight blocks south, about a half a mile. Bus 53 stops one block from the zoo entrance.