A Trip to Puebla’s Drive-Thru Zoo
After seeing big cats and other exotic animals paraded through city streets in cages to advertise traveling circuses, it’s easy to be skeptical about the zoo experience in Mexico. Fortunately, Africam Safari not only defies stereotypes, but also promotes top-quality conditions for all creatures by pioneering best practices for the industry worldwide. The drive-through zoo, located on the outskirts of the city of Puebla, is a wonderful place for wildlife lovers — and kids of all ages — to visit.
Africam Safari was the first zoo in Latin America to receive accreditation from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, due largely to its conservation efforts and its high standards of animal care. With partners in Mexico and around the globe, Africam works to recover wild populations (such as the golden eagle) and to preserve ecosystems and soil. The park itself protects scores of endangered species and indigenous flora and fauna and strives to teach the public about them. Thousands of animals — from alpaca to zebra — roam freely in large, well-maintained habitats in which human activity is heavily controlled. In a single trip, it’s possible to watch a hippo bathe, a Bengal tiger wake up from a nap, a blackbuck antelope toss around a fallen tree branch, a joey emerge from mama kangaroo’s pouch, and more.
Be prepared to stop for the occasional ostrich, herd of mouflon, or rhino crossing the road and to have a gang of monkeys climb onto the roof of your SUV.
Safari means visitors must travel through the lion’s share of the park in a motorized vehicle, whether it’s a car or a public bus; if you don’t have your own wheels, Estrella Roja and Tip Tours run excursions from the zócalo to Africam at least once a day. Traffic must always yield to animals, and humans may not leave their cars. Posted signs indicate when windows need to be closed. (Tip: Honk your vehicle’s horn if you need assistance and a park ranger will appear.)
At the end of the safari, visitors can enjoy the lunch they packed in the picnic area by the parking lot, then continue their exploration on foot inside the Adventure Zone, or pedestrian portion of the zoo. Here you can meet more critters — bats, butterflies, turtles, and more — and even treat toddlers to a pony ride. Africam staff also occasionally put on animal-themed shows. Night tours are offered in late December and January.
Africam is open daily, year-round, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (park closes at 6:30 p.m.). Admission is 198 pesos per adult (192 for kids). For driving directions, click here.