Mexico City’s Chapultepec Zoo is actually but the most famous of several zoological parks in and around the city. Even more widely unknown is that today’s Torre Latinoamericana actually stands on the site of Moctezuma II’s zoo in ancient Tenochtitlan. So the tradition goes back a long way.
Today considered the national zoo, and easily one of the best zoos in Latin America, Chapultepec has ancient connections too. Here, the ancient “tlatoanis,” i.e.; the Aztec emperors, are said to have taken holidays among the natural springs, animal reserves (perhaps more like menageries), and bathing areas.
The zoo you can visit today was begun by the scientist Alfonso L. Herrera in 1924, although Porfirio Díaz had issued a decree to build a zoological museum some 35 years earlier. Today, the residents of the zoo frequently populate the media and the imaginations of the broader city, and sometimes, the entire country. Herrera based his model for a zoo on the then novel model of the “Giardino Zoologico em Museo de Zoología de Comune di Roma,” today the Bioparco in Rome Italy.
The most emblematic residents include elephants, monkeys and giraffes, desert bighorn sheep and many more. Among those most endangered are the Mexican wolf, jaguar, the axolotl, giant pandas, Teporingo volcano rabbits, thick-billed parrots, ocellated turkeys, and the red-kneed tarantulas.
Today, the zoo is home to about 250 species of animals, and nearly 2,000 individual animals.
During the 1990s, the Chapultepec Zoo was completely remodeled and residents were distributed among the more bio-climatic areas that can be seen today. Today the Chapultepec Zoo is integrated with the Zoo of San Juan de Aragón and the Los Coyotes Zoo in Coyoacan. Part of the Ministry of the Environment all the zoos act as centers for the management and conservation of wildlife under captive conditions.
The Zoos of Mexico City work to promote integrated conservation by carrying out ex situ and in situ conservation actions for species, populations and wildlife individuals, in Mexico and the rest of the world.
Of course the zoo is for families and especially for kids. Guided tours are affordable and usually quite well-attended.