Bioparco Roma is in the Villa Borghese gardens, way at the back beside Villa Borghese, and it’s very cute, especially for kids. Most of the descriptions of the animals and exhibits are in Italian and English, which is great, especially with Rowan wanting to read everything in sight.
We bought extra tickets for the “Alien Fish” exhibit because we thought it was going to feature weird and unusual fish from the depths of the sea. Instead, the exhibit had invasive species that are not native to the Mediterranean or to Italy. Most are introduced be people wanting to diversify species, farmed species getting loose in rivers and oceans, and pets being released into the wild with good intentions, but disastrous results. We also learned that the Mediterranean has become one degree warmer and many more times saltier in the last 30 years because of climate change, which is killing off native species, but making pretty pleasant habitats for the more resilient alien species. It was an eye opening exhibit.
Then we roamed the zoo looking for favourites like the giraffes, elephants and lions, but found new faves like the ring tailed lemurs, which were being fed radicchio, lettuce, red peppers, and zucchini while we were there. They were very jumpy and active, which was a lot of fun to see. Plus they’re in an open air enclosure, which is very different from the lemurs at the Toronto Zoo.
The reptile house was by far the highlight of the day, because it had two huge Egyptian crocodiles, plus a whole bunch of other reptiles, like boas, pythons, an anaconda, iguanas and other, smaller lizards, colourful frogs and a cute chubby “tomato” frog (which does look like a tomato), millipedes (ack!) and other insects, and a rainforest enclosure, with giant tortoises, caiman, and dwarf crocodiles. Rowan loved the rainforest exhibit because it actually rained while we were there.
The zoo also has a few kids play areas, most of which were too small for Rowan, but he did enjoy exploring this huge ship playground for a few minutes, until a summer camp full of 5 and 6-year-olds came by and took over! The only thing the zoo is missing is a splash pad, which it could really use!
In the afternoon, we visited the Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps, which were unfortunately closed for restoration, but we stopped for ice cream and shoe shopping, which made us feel better. Then it was off to the Trevi Fountain for some photos and more scavenging for Rowan’s Mission Rome (amazon.ca / amazon.com) book, before heading back to our hotel for a much earned nap.
Tomorrow we’re off to St. Peter’s Basilica and perhaps Castel Sant’Angelo for some more walking and gelato…