The Temaiken Zoo is
an excellent way to spend the day away from the city of Buenos Aires.
As soon as you walk in the gate you are greeted by dozens of bright
pink flamingos and a unique fountain that features the world floating
on water. I think the Temaikén Zoo is just as beautiful, maybe even
more so, than the San Diego Zoo in California; although, there are not
nearly as many species to see at Temaikén.
In contrast to the Buenos Aires Zoo, the animals at Temaikén live in
well kept, large exhibits, the lawn and grass are watered and cut, the
waters are clear, and the sidewalks are well-maintained. Everything
about this zoo seems brand new, unlike the Buenos Aires Zoo which is
over 100 years old. Another difference between Temaiken and the
Buenos Aires Zoo is the ability to feed the animals. At the Buenos
Aires Zoo you can feed most animals, but at Temaikén you can only feed
a few farm animals when the staff is present.
This large green spot
won’t be found on any Buenos Aires City map, it is located in Escobar,
about 50 kilometers or an hour bus ride from Plaza Italia. If
you are not up for a public bus ride, which isn’t air-conditioned, you
can take a tour with a private travel agency, such as Interpreta, for
about $35 USD, this price includes the admission to the park. Another
way to arrive would be taxi or remis, but it could be expensive and
you would need to arrange for pick up before they drop you off at the
The most economical route to Temaikén is the public bus, line 60
semirapido. The bus departs about every 15 minutes from Plaza Italia
in Palermo, and the entire ride takes about an hour to an hour and a
half. To find the bus, start at the Buenos Aires Zoo and walk around
the circle with the direction of traffic toward a small kiosk next to
the road. You should see several buses stopping at the curb. You can
buy tickets at the kiosk for $3.40 pesos, per person each way. If you
have exact change (in coins) you can also buy the ticket on the bus,
but I recommend the kiosk, because the bus driver does not wait for
you to purchase a ticket and be seated; and trying to feed coins in
the machine as the driver launches into traffic can be a difficult
There are two buses in Buenos Aires with the number 60, one takes you
to Temaikén and one goes to The Pink House. The bus line 60
semirapido is clearly labeled “Vamos a Temaikén’, so look for this
sign on the window. The bus has many, many stops along the way, but
don’t worry about missing your stop, the bus drops you off in front of
Temaikén’s gates. You actually go into the tree lined parking lot of
the zoo and are dropped off directly in front of the 5 feet tall
letters T-E-M-A-I-K-E-N. I am telling you this because once you have
arrived in Escobar you head toward the zoo, you stop at a gas station,
then the bus turns away from the zoo! I made the mistake of thinking
that was the stop so I got off at the next stop. The zoo was another
four blocks after the gas station where the bus had made a U-turn.
I’m not sure why the bus comes teasingly close to the zoo, just to
take a short city tour before dropping you off at the parks gates, but
it does, so stay on until you see the colorful sign!
To get back to Buenos Aires just walk to the front of the park, buy a
ticket from the guy at the booth, and take line 60 back to Plaza
Italia. (FYI if you are leaving between 5pm and 7pm you will hit rush
I have never been so
close to pink flamingos!!! Usually when you see pink flamingos in
zoos they are across a lake, on a faraway island or obscured by some
fountain or trees, but at Temaikén they are just a few feet away from you.
There are dozens of them; bathing, fighting, and squawking in a
shallow pool right next to the pathway. We arrived at midday and they
were all out, but they were not active. When we exited the park at
6:00 p.m. they were running and splashing in the water, and a few
seemed to have a bit of a skirmish.
If you are an Animal Planet Channel fanatic, then I am sure you will
love the Meerkats! When I peeked over the railing I
couldn’t help but to think I had spotted Flower from Meerkat Manor.
Since it was about 1pm all of the meerkats were taking a siesta in the
shade, but when we walked past them in the evening they were up,
digging for food and play fighting. I think my first love for
meerkats came from The Lion King, which featured Timon. Timon was an
adorable meerkat and best friend to Pumbaa, the warthog. Whenever I
see meerkats I want to sing that little song “are you ach’n? – yep,
yep, yep – For some bacon? – yep, yep, yep”.
One feature of Temaikén Zoo that I really enjoyed was the raised
boardwalks through the animal exhibits. Instead of remaining on the
sidewalk and looking over a wooden railing, this park has boardwalks
about ten feet above the ground that run within the animals exhibits.
It allows everyone, especially children, to have a better view of the
antelopes, tigers, zebras and other zoo animals. There were small
pavilions at every corner so one could rest in the shade, read the
informational signs about the animals and enjoy the view.
A great part of the zoo for children is ‘La Chacra’ or farm animals.
This is where children can get close to the animals and feed or pet
them. There is a veterinary clinic located next to the farm animals,
and on certain occasions children can watch caretakers deal with baby
animals. The ‘La Chacra’ contains cows, goats, sheep, chickens and
turkeys. There is also a small vegetable farm, which is great for a
tourist’s menu vocabulary. Each plant is clearly labeled with a
picture of ripened fruit. They have bell peppers (ají morrón),
eggplant (berenjena), basil (albahaca) and a variety of other
vegetables and herbs.
In the back of the zoo there are a few air-conditioned exhibits which
offer a needed reprieve of the summer’s heat. After the panther
exhibit, there is a cave you can go into to see short films on various
animals native to Argentina. Further in the cave are tunnels that
open into windows of the panther’s exhibit. In between the condors
and kangaroos there is a dark chamber for animals that burrow into the
ground. This area may not be air-conditioned, but it feels cool after
a walk around the zoo. Included in this exhibit are spiders,
armadillos, and vizcacha.
Stingray in Overhead Tunnel
Penguin Playing in the Water
My favorite exhibit
at the Temaikén Zoo was the large aquarium. The aquarium is the best
place to relax in the zoo, classical music fills the air, and waves
crash in the background. The first room has a shallow pool filled
with small fish, sting rays, and for the patient observers, sand
sharks. Colorful coral and bright starfish cling to the sides and
bottom of the aquarium walls, while large rock formations and timed
waves give it a realistic ambiance.
The next room has floor to ceiling windows for viewing much larger
fish. Some of them were interesting, but mostly were grey,
non-tropical fish so I didn’t know much about them. It is passing
from this room to the next that amazes the spectators. A glass toped
tunnel allows zoo goers to view the bellies of sharks and stingrays.
I stood for minutes watching how a shark’s body moves through the
water and the gentle flap of a stingray’s wings. If you can pull
yourself away from the tunnel the next room offers a 360° view of the
sharks and stingrays. I filmed several minutes of video of them swimming around
The last exhibit is about conserving and protecting the
ocean-life. I would have been more interested in it if there were
English translations, but the pictures and displays are illustrative
enough to get the idea.
One of the more unique exhibits at the Temaikén Zoo was the bat
house. Usually bats are hidden in dark rooms, but these were in a
naturally lit cage. They all hung from trees and ate fruit as we
watched. I was amazed by one flying off its branch to the other side
of the cage. These bats are as large as hawks and you can hear the
wings beating as they fly.
It took us about five hours to tour the entire park. I am sure it
could be done faster, but we took our time, stopping for a quick bite
to eat. We visited the park on a Friday in the middle of summer, so
it was empty; the zoo may take longer to navigate through crowds.
Because of the intense heat, the animals all seemed to seek the
coolness of shade or water; we may return on a cooler day in late
March to see if the animals are more active.