Mérida’s Animaya Zoo has begun offering safari-like tours in hopes of increasing the number of visitors.
During the safari, visitors will have the opportunity to view several animals up close and maybe even feed them if the park ranger says it’s OK.
The safari experience is divided into four zones, including areas dedicated to wildlife from the Americas, Africa, and Eurasia, and a lagoon featuring water birds.
The tour is only 30 minutes long, but with tickets at just 5 pesos (roughly 25 cents USD), it is quite a deal.
A similar tour started being offered in 2017 using a vehicle that resembles a train, much like the famous trenecito at the historic El Centenario Zoo.
Zoo administrators point out that the newer golf cart-like vehicles, though having a smaller capacity, facilitate meaningful interactions.
“We hope everyone comes out to take part in this unique experience, especially the little ones,” said Mayor Renán Barrera Concha.
Visitors are briefed on the importance of staying inside the vehicle at all times. However, on opening day, this did not stop one man from venturing off on his own and getting chased by an ostrich. Other animals in residence range from hippos and zebras to pink flamingos and antelope.
Related: Zebra gives birth at the Animaya
Despite having opened in 2010, the Animaya Zoo has failed to become as popular as the over 113-year-old Centenario Zoo on the outskirts of Centro.
The relative lack of visitors to the Animaya Zoo is often attributed to its location outside of Periferico, near the exit to Hunucmá.
Animaya Zoo is ideal for those with children, though visitors often complain about the relative lack of trees and shade along large swaths of the park.