Zoo Aquarium Madrid (metro Casa de Campo)

Located in Casa de Campo on the west side of Madrid, the zoo includes over 500 species of animals from all over the world. Depending on when you go, there are various shows staged at certain times of day: a dolphin or sea lion show, a parrot show and a show of birds of prey. Mini-train and boat rides are also available, and there are kiddy cars for hire. Lunch options include a restaurant and a couple of cafes, which mainly sell fast food. Entrance fee is 18,80 euros for adults; children under 3 years old have free entry. Note that it is cheaper to buy your tickets online.

www.zoomadrid.com or tel 902 345 014

Faunia (metro Valdebernardo, line 9 or station Velcálvaro on Cercanías train)

This wildlife park exhibits a host of smaller, but not less interesting animals than those in the zoo. There are thematic environmental areas in which the animals are kept which means that the animals seem more ‘at home’ in their surroundings than they do in the zoo. Being small, they also generally need less space. As the park is greener, it is more pleasant to wander around on hot days than the zoo which is abundant in fauna but not in flora. Attractions and curiosities include a seal and sea lion show, a birds of prey show, the ‘Magic Forum’ where experts display a range of interesting animal species, a zone called ‘the nest’ where chicks can be seen hatching from eggs, an artificial tropical storm in the Jungle secion, and an underground penguin zone. The entry fee is more expensive than the zoo aquarium: 25,50 euros for adults (23,90 euros if you buy tickets online). Children under 3 enter free of charge. There are various cafes and restaurants around the park, including at least one cafe offering a buffet with a variety of tasty, reasonably-priced dishes.

Faunia is on the south-east side of Madrid. If driving, there is access from the M40 and from the A3. See the website for map and directions. It is also accessible by bus.

See www.faunia.es or tel 91 301 6210 or email faunia@faunia.es

Burrolandia In Soto, near Tres Cantos, north of Madrid. Open Sundays only 1100 to 1400. Entrance is free. Children can feed the donkeys and there is a donkey- cart ride around the yard. There is also a small shop. A place to spend an hour or so and it can be combined nicely with a visit to Tres Cantos park (see page on Excursions Around Madrid).

Cañada Real Open Center

This is a cheaper option, if you want to take your toddler to see wildlife. The place houses Iberian fauna in natural environments of different areas of Spain (e.g. Sierra, mediterranean). As well as aiming to educate the public about Spanish species, the Centre also acts as a sanctuary for animals and birds which, for one reason or another, cannot survive in the wild.  A path takes you around the park. Guided tours are optional. Entrance is 9,00 euros for adults, free for under 4-year-olds. The Centre is open from 10 to 6pm in winter. In summer it opens from 10 to 6pm on weekdays but from 11 to 8pm at weekends. It is located a few km from El Escorial (48km from Madrid), between El Escorial and Valdemorillo, on the turn-off towards Zarzalejo and Fresnedillas. There is a map on the website.

www.opennature.com

Tel 91 890 69 80/87 48

Safari Madrid

Situated about 50 km from Madrid, this is a proper safari park. You reach it by taking the N-V road and coming off at exit 32, near Navalcarnero. The park is in Aldea del Fresno. It is open all year round from 1030am. Closes at 2130 in the summer and 1830 in winter. There are areas where children can feed the animals.

Tel 91 862 23 14. www.safarimadrid.com