This animal rescue center located just minutes from the San Jose Costa Rica international airport is a must-visit for families! It’s not a Costa Rica zoo- it’s better!
About Zoo Ave Costa Rica
Zoo Ave (literally translated to bird zoo) is an animal rescue center (formerly Rescate animal) located about 20 minutes north of the Juan Santamaria Airport.
This makes the attraction the perfect way to kill time if you have an afternoon flight or if you arrive in Costa Rica early and need something to do.
Zoo Ave began as an animal rescue center that took in animals people were trying to smuggle out of Costa Rica in their suitcases (or other wild ways that hurt the animals.)
Because these animals were not able to be released back into the wild, the rescue and rehabilitation center was born.
Today, many species of animals reside and thrive in the rescue center, and there is even a rehabilitation center for locals to take their sick or injured animals to get help from the expert veterinarians on staff.
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The ultimate list of Spanish phrases for Costa Rica with kids.
Location – Getting There And Away
The address of Zoo Ave is as follows: 2.3 km al este del cruce de Manolo’s, ruta 3, hacia el B° San José, Provincia de Alajuela,
The actual micro-region of the area is located in La Garita, and any Uber or taxi will be able to take you.
It’s also very easy to arrive in your own car, I just suggest using Waze to get there the easiest way possible.
Related post: Driving In Costa Rica – Complete Guide
Wild Animals You Can Expect To See
You can expect to see many species of birds such as toucans, scarlet macaws, peacocks, parakeets, and more.
You will see reptiles such as turtles, lizards, and chameleons. Snakes? Definitely!
You’ll see mammals too- there are Dantas, sloths, monkeys, squirrels and even a mini-farm.
You’ll see lots of insects- keep your eyes peeled for spider webs along the trail.
There are recreations of each animal’s natural habitat, and the temperate climate of the Rescate Wildlife rescue center and the city of Alajuela, in general, helps the animals to thrive.
Update: They recently added some cool dinosaur statues to Zoo Ave, which kids LOVE.
Related post: Popular Costa Rica Animal Sightings
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One of the best-kept secrets of the Rescate Animal Zoo Ave is the restaurant. the food is SOOO SOOO SOOO good, and you can go just to dine and not see the center if you want.
From casados to fried rices, homemade ice cream, fresh juices and smoothies, to the best desserts, you need to plan your visit here over lunch and dinner. They even have beer!
As for snacks, in a couple of places throughout the zoo they sell ice cream and popsicles.
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We’ve talked about Zoo Ave in our Starbucks in Costa Rica post as they have reciprocity with discount ticketing- so make sure to take advantage of that by visiting Zoo Ave before visiting Hacienda Alsacia (Starbucks.)
Guided tours in English and Spanish are available at Zoo Ave, dependent on volunteer availability. You would just ask if they are available when you arrive.
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What To Bring
It can be super hot and humid, so wear cool clothing. That said, there are quite a few mosquitos so bring bug spray.
Related post: All about Mosquitos In Costa Rica
While there is a lot of shade under the trees, the sun is hot so make sure to bring sunscreen.
You can pay with cash or card.
If it rains, you will want rain gear or a poncho.
Finally, the paved trails can get slick when it rains so wear sturdy, non-slip shoes. This is not the best place for flip flops, but tennis shoes and hiking sandals such as Keens or Chacos are great.
Related post: Costa Rica Weather
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You can reserve your tickets right on the Zoo Ave website, but unless it’s a Sunday, there is almost always space available so you can just plan to stop on by.