Havana’s 26th Street Zoo  (Video)

By Irina Pino



HAVANA TIMES – I’ve been wanting to go to the Zoo on 26th Street for a while now, and I finally managed to make it. Nobody calls it the Zoological Park as it’s too long and sounds ostentatious.

I was surprised to hear loud music at its entrance. What a ruckus! What’s happening? I thought.

The zoo was inaugurated in 1939, at the old La Rosa ranch. It’s a beautiful place, where there is plenty of vegetation and a couple of natural lakes.

I saw few birds in theiir area. I only saw one crocodile from afar. I only saw two chimpanzees, a spider monkey and a macaque in the primate section. No orangutans.

Some extremely white ducks made me laugh who came quacking by in a group. There are still pink flamingos, who show off their elegance. I was also happy to see two red squirrels who were funny to watch as they moved about.

You can sense the shortage: there aren’t any bears, leopards, panthers, zebras, pelicans, tortoises, wild cats…, like there used to be eight years ago. Back then, children and adults could take photos with their cubs. Photos used to cost 5 pesos each. My son loved the idea and I took a few.

I read on ECURED that giraffes and elephants had been removed because of a lack of vast spaces where their food could be planted. Nevertheless, there is a solitary one-humped camel eating fresh grass…

I spoke to some employees and they told me that the zoo has acquired some new species. When I asked one of them what the hyenas ate, he told me that they are fed horse meat twice a day. He also added that they only kill the eldest horses.

The poor horses destined to be eaten are fenced off. Well, that’s just Nature’s food chain.

I was annoyed to hear awful music being blasted on the speakers where the rides are for children to play on. There are also street vendor stalls with poorly designed plastic toys.

It’s reprehensible that the zoo’s management allow this music to be played here. The sounds the animals make in their habitat should be the attraction.

Another stupid thing: cafes didn’t sell anything to eat, except for two: one sold ice cream in a cup without a spoon (which sold out quickly). The other cafe only had canned soda and bottles of water, in CUC.

Employees pass time without working. One of them told me that candy is sold on the weekend, when more people come.

In spite of all this, I recommend people to come with their families and friends. Bring food in your backpack if you’re coming during the week. It’s open from 9 AM- 5 PM from Wednesday to Sunday. Affordable entrance prices: 2 CUP (regular Cuban pesos) for children and 3 CUP for adults.

I was sad at times to see all of these animals living in captivity, it reminded me of the movie Madagascar, when the animals break out with the idea of finding their homeland again. I wouldn’t like to be reincarnated (in another life) as a zoo animal.

The deer left me with a pleasant memory, with their innocence and kind eyes. I was able to pet one of them, when he came up to me all friendly as I was filming.

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Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

Irina Pino has 266 posts and counting. See all posts by Irina Pino

2 thoughts on “Havana’s 26th Street Zoo  (Video)

  • I have and old picture-black and white- with grandma at the zoo. I must have been 5 or 6 years old. Yeah: The Havana Zoo, what a treat for children and adults too to enjoy. I’d been to The Los Angeles Zoo, my old thumping grounds but missed The San Diego, California Zoo, alleged to be one of the greatest in The World. You can’t see all in one day, ‘ cause I’d seen photographs of it. – And it is advised that when it all gets ‘ too heavy’ to swallow, go to The Zoo. After all aren’t we all primates descendants ?

  • I’ve been to zoos all over the world and they all suck.
    I used to go to he one in Havana as a kid–60 some odd
    years ago. I loved the place then.

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