The Zoo of Havana city, which is known as Havana Zoo or Zoo from 26th due to its main entrance is located on an avenue from the local Nuevo Vedado district, is the oldest zoo of those ones in Cuba.
It is about a traditional facility in which the immense majority of the animals on display are locked.
This center is an attractive place for the population of all ages, besides, the popular zoo from the 26th Avenue represents, after some historical stages, the place for many memories from childhood and pleasant occasions.
Since 1937, Carlos de la Torre Huerta and other professors from the university of Havana city began to think about building a zoo park for the Cuban capital, taking into account that they had already known about the presence of those institutions in nations from Europe.
On October 24th, 1938, an order was issued to authorize the creation of a zoo for Havana city, the first of its type in Cuba and it was inaugurated on October 14th, 1939. The zoo was placed in the local and ancient La Rosa farm and nursery that was a property of the then Havana´s town council, among the Aldecoa road and the Almendares River where it was located the Vivero Forestal (forest nursery) from the local Public Works Ministry. It first began with 69 species of animals.
In 1944, it was destroyed almost completely by a hurricane which caused lots of damages. The park was later refurbished and it was reopened on October 12th, 1947 as part of the construction process of the local 26th Avenue.
The new facility included big lakes, cages for lions and bears, as well as a beautiful monument entitled ´Grupo Familiar´ (Family Group) that is popularly known as ´Los Venados´ (The Deers) and it was a work made by the Cuban artist Rita Longa and it has become one of the main images of Havana city. Moreover, there are other internal sculptures such as the ones named as ´El niño y el Pelícano´ (The boy and the Pelican) by Cuban sculptor Jilma Madera and the one entitled´ Las muñequitas´ (The little dolls) by the local artist Pérez Mesa and some years later there were new facilities which were inaugurated.
Anumá was the first chimpanzee that was born in captivity in Cuba on April 27th, 1915 in the then Las Delicias farm that is the current Finca de los Monos (the Monkeys Farm, literally).
The historical site for the Chimpanzee was inaugurated to commemorate that birthday in the zoo on April 27th, 2015.
After the triumph of the Revolution, there was a new refurbishing stage process through the enlargement of the cages for monkeys, the veterinary clinic, laboratories, lakes and coffee shops which concluded in 1962.
Between the 1965 and 1975 decade, the Zoo experienced a flowering in terms of the quality of exhibitions and species of animals. There were reproductive achievements through important specimens.
The environmental education about the park is among the local objectives, therefore, this open-air museum to the public has contributed to that aim given there are lessons delivered at Havana Zoo for students of nearby schools.
The area for the animal exhibition of the park is divided into four big spaces so that the visitor could organize his/her tour by prioritizing what is regarded as the most interesting view: the felines, monkeys, birds and reptiles.
The main one is the popular one named as ´Isla de los Hipopótamos ´ (the island of Hippopotamus, literally) which is a beautiful environment designed for the coexistence of those animals with quiet and shallow waters and small islands where we can get to see some species of primates and endemic plants from Cuba.
Even though the main attractive feature of the aforementioned zoo is the exhibition of animals, the visitors can also enjoy cultural shows, a playground, taking pictures with animals, the rent on facilities for parties and the guided visits to the museum classroom which are among the attractive options for children, mainly.
It is abundantly obvious, the Havana zoo is one of the favorite places of the Cuban families to spend some leisure hours and some time for approaching the local flora and fauna.
By José M Correa Armas