Something soft and furry brushed my face, as I looked up the owner of the long black and white tail was gazing down with bright inquisitive eyes and perky ears. The Ring Tailed Lemur had just captured another heart as others scampered up and down branches before taking gifts of nuts and fruit offered by visitors to Monkey Park just outside Los Cristianos in Tenerife.
Sensitive interaction with the animals is encouraged under supervision and in moderation, bags of approved nibbles are sold at reception and I’m sure some of the monkeys, chimps, apes, and lemurs can sense the rustle of a bag well before the tasting. It’s this closeness to the animals that enthralls families, particularly in the walk through enclosures where squirrel monkeys are also cheeky favourites. It had been many years since my only previous visit and it was a lot bigger than I remembered. Maybe that’s partly due to the unpretentious entrance down a slip road off the TF1 motorway that brings tourists from Tenerife Sur airport to the main resorts like Costa Adeje and Playa de Las Americas.
It wasn’t just tree swinging creatures waiting to greet me, a couple of not so cuddly Cuban Crocodiles lazed by the stream that passed under the wooden bridge. All thoughts of the nearby motorway were soon dispelled as squawks and squeaks filled the air and I emerged into the open air central section flanked by parrots and monkeys in large cages. Many of the animals at the park are endangered species, their status, country of origin, food likes, and background were all displayed on information boards in English and Spanish.
The gibbons were on good form swinging around the high roof and perimeter of their cage. Rails held visitors back from the cages at just the right length to lean carefully to pass on nuts and other treats. The design of the park allows plenty of large open areas as well as shady retreats, and benches are placed in front of many of the most popular animal homes, they probably are just as fascinated by our antics as we are with theirs. There are ramps between areas and disabled toilets, several of the families had buggies for toddlers.
I enjoy the small animals as much as the big ones, Black Tufted Marmosets were preening themselves, Rose Crested Cockatoos were flirting with each other, and even the Iguanas looked content in their own scaly skin. The big chimps are the star showmen, Bongo and Klaus were playing the humans to perfection as they raced around their enclosure always returning for some face to face teasing and suitably rude noises and gestures that had the children giggling.
I spent a good two hours at Monkey Park, quite a few other visitors were constantly back tracking and revisiting their favourites, it’s almost impossible to tire at the sheer cuteness and playful nature of the small monkeys and Lemurs.
Monkey Park is signposted off the TF1 motorway, 5 minutes out of Los Cristianos; (0034) 922 790 720; open 9.30am to 5pm every day; adults 10 euros, children 5 euros; parking available; taxi 5 euros from Los Cristianos
Category : days out
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