Barcelona Zoo, in Parc de la Ciutadella, grew out of a private collection of exotic animals owned by the banker Lluís Martí, which the City Council acquired for 30,000 pesetas (€180). It opened to the public in 1892 and, since then, it has gradually been remodelled and transformed into a place to visit, enjoy and get to know animals from round the world a bit better.
120 years of history
Barcelona Zoo has always been very popular throughout its 120 years. As an aside, it is worth mentioning that admission was free in the early days, although animal auctions and egg sales were organised to fund its maintenance.
Back then the zoo had lots of exotic animals, such as dromedaries, ostriches and an elephant. The latter, a female called Júlia, became the real star because, at that time, elephants were almost unknown to the people of the city.
The misery and hunger of the Civil War and post-war years meant many animals died, including the famous Júlia, and that in turn led to the zoo's decline. Despite that, the economic recovery of subsequent decades led to an increase in the number of species and the facilities were improved. Since then, Barcelona Zoo has grown in every sense and become a European benchmark.
In recent decades, the zoo has gone from being a place for exhibiting animals to a research, study and education centre. Today it has modern facilities and looks after the welfare of the animals, which now number more than 2,000. Among the many facilities some stand out, like the primate gallery, the Komodo dragon facility, the palm grove with its aviaries and the dolphin pavilion.
In memory of Snowflake
Barcelona Zoo was home to an albino gorilla, the only one ever found in the world, which lived from 1966 to 2003. Snowflake was the undisputed star of the zoo, and his death was grieved by everyone in Barcelona. Although he has many descendants, no other white gorilla has been born, which has led to a call for one to be cloned. This is scientifically possible as the zoo has preserved samples of his ADN.