Set in the heart of one of Rome’s largest parks, the Villa Borghese, you’ll find the Zoological Garden of Rome (Bioparco). Opened in 1911, this 101 year old zoo covers 17 hectares (42 acres) and is home to over 1100 animals representing over 200 species. Known for its animals, lush plants – as it is also a botanical garden – and their work with CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), the Rome’s Zoo is committed to the conservation of natural habitats as a whole, from its flora to its fauna.
Many of the animals at the zoo were rescued from poor conditions or from the illegal trade in animals. CITES is a reoccurring theme throughout the zoo bringing awareness to visitors of the threat that illegal trade in live animals or their parts has on these animals in the wild – being a cause to species being threatened with extinction. The animals they’ve saved have become mascots at the zoo and in essence ambassadors to their wild counterparts.
One thing I learnt while researching the Zoological Garden of Rome was their story of the Kleinmann’s tortoise, also known as the Egyptian tortoise. After confiscating a group of these critically endangered tortoises from a smuggler’s suitcase the zoo took them in and two years later were proud to announce they had successfully bred. This was a great achievement for not only the zoo but for the health of the species population.
I was impressed with many of their exhibits and enclosure sizes as well as the emphases they put on conservation and bringing awareness to visitors about the illegal trade in flora and fauna through their CITES signage on almost every animal plaque. With Rome’s rich history around every corner it was nice to spend the day at a zoo teaming with amazing animals in interesting environments and the opportunity to learn something along the way.
To read more about my visit to Rome visit “The World As I See It” – my travel blog @ http://ladystravelblog.wordpress.com