Bioparco, the large zoo at the northern edge of Rome's Villa Borghese park, has had something of a mixed reputation over the years. One of Europe's oldest zoos, opened originally in 1911, its facilities were outdated and the the animals were not always kept in the best conditions. However, following a recent facelift and rebranding, there have been many improvements. There is still room for more - some of the cages do seem a little small - but the rechristened Bioparco is at least heading in the right direction.
Things to See
Once you've spent some time wandering around the usual range of lions, tigers, camels, bears, zebras, giraffes, (etc...), it's worth taking a look at the reptile house. It's themed around "Furti di Natura" (thefts from nature). The display begins with a short film on the theme, which is shown inside a mock aeroplane. Then follows the chance to see an exhibition of endangered animals and animal products which have been confiscated in and around Rome over the years. The most impressive of these is certainly Mario, a crocodile who was rescued from a Rome apartment where he was being kept in the bathtub as a pet.
For children there is a petting zoo and a playground, with a theatre and other attractions available at certain times - see their website (below, right) for current details.
Opening hours Open 9.30-17.00 from January to March and 9.30-18.00 from 25 March until 1 November, with last entrance an hour before closing time.
Ticket prices Entry to Bioparco costs €8.50/€6.50, with tickets to the reptile house costing an extra €2.50.
See also the official website of the zoo at Bioparco.it.