The private zoo just outside medieval Santillana del Mar makes a nice change from the beaches for a morning or afternoon and is a firm favourite with the little ones. Though not the largest of zoos it has some real gems which make it interesting for all the family
The zoo has had some quite remarkable success breeding orang-utans and if you’re lucky you can see a baby or a toddler or two – this year we’ve met Nuba who’s just over a year old – as well as the resident community of adults, all fascinating to watch.
And don’t miss the butterfly house – it’s quite a sensation to walk among the tropical plants with all kinds of tropical butterflies floating around your head, even landing on you! The plants are quite beautiful and there are chrysalis cases where you can see every stage of the development. For keen photographers it’s a great opportunity for some tricky close up shots – they just won’t sit still!
If you’re planning a visit to any of the caves with paintings in the area the zoo’s Parque Cuaternario is the ideal preparation. At the top end of the zoo here you can see the fauna depicted in the paintings – animals which would have been around 14,000 years ago such as the European bison, Przewalski horses, reindeer, wild boar, bears etc ; not necessarily rare species but with a different significance when viewed in this context.