10 Best Zoos & Aquariums in Ecuador

Updated On October 7, 2023

Ecuador has beautiful landscapes and a diverse range of wildlife.

The Galapagos Islands are part of the country, and they’re one of the most popular areas in the world for viewing wildlife.

However, these islands are about 600 miles away from the mainland.

You can check out lots of the same species and a variety of other animals at Ecuador’s zoos and aquariums.

Here are some of the best zoos and aquariums in Ecuador and some FAQs about the area.

Best Zoos & Aquariums in Ecuador

1. The Quito Zoo

The Quito Zoo is in Guayllabamba, about an hour away from downtown Quito.

The zoo rescues wild animals and cares for them until they’re ready to return to their natural habitats, so the species you can see change often.

Permanent residents include Galapagos turtles, pumas, jaguars, lions, and an Andean condor.

You can visit from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Tuesday through Sunday.

Nighttime tours with up to five people are available as well.

That way, you can see owls, big cats, and other nocturnal animals while they’re active.

2. Amaru Bioparque Cuenca Zoologico

The Amaru Bioparque Cuenca Zoologico is in a rustic area on the side of a mountain, and it has a great view of downtown Cuenca.

Many of the animals roam freely, and exploring this zoo fully usually takes about two hours of hiking.

You can see ostriches, pumas, jaguars, parrots, llamas, and many other animals.

The Amphibian Conservation Center has several species of native toads and frogs, and Ecuador has a greater density of amphibians than any other country.

Amaru is open every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and it has a concession stand and a souvenir shop.

3. The AmaZOOnico Animal Rescue Center

The amaZOOnico animal rescue center is in Tena, a beautiful city surrounded by forests.

It covers over 5 hectares, and it cares for more than 400 animals that can’t survive in the wild.

Many researchers observe animals and study rehabilitation methods here.

You can see macaws, jaguarundis, coatis, ocelots, toucans, turtles, and several monkey species.

Visitors can support this nonprofit by volunteering or getting a fun t-shirt.

Reservations are required, and amaZOOnico is open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A guide will help you learn more about indigenous animals, and each tour takes about an hour.

4. The El Pantanal Zoo

The El Pantanal Zoo is the largest wildlife rescue center in the country, and it’s in Guayaquil.

Along with native animals, this place cares for many animals that once lived in other zoos that closed their doors.

The El Pantanal Zoo has monkeys, pumas, camels, capybaras, zebras, jaguars, llamas, and lemurs.

Birds include king vultures, rainbow and blue macaws, cattle egrets, peacocks, white-throated toucans, emus, and American flamingos.

You can also see several types of underwater animals, including electric eels, red-tailed catfish, Amazon rays, and tilapia.

The El Pantanal Zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

5. The Quito Vivarium

The Vivarium is inside La Carolina Park in Quito.

Its name comes from a Latin word that means place of life, and it cares for Ecuadorian reptiles and amphibians.

The Vivarium has about 350 animals of 40 different species, including frogs, lizards, salamanders, and snakes.

You can explore on your own or reserve a guided tour.

You can see many behind-the-scenes labs and technical areas.

You can also feed some of the animals and interact with them up close.

This zoo is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.

6. The Valdivia Marine Park

The Valdivia Marine Park, often called Parque Marino Valdivia, is part of the Valdivia commune near the Ecuadorian coast.

It has about 40 marine species and around 180 individual animals.

Visitors get guided tours, and this aquarium has seahorses, starfish, tortoises, turtles, fish, and pelicans.

One of the most popular residents is Perlita, a sea lion with its own pond.

There’s also a garden area, a veterinary clinic, a dining room for visitors, and a gift shop with handmade souvenirs.

You can visit Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m. 

7. The Valdivia Aquarium

The Valdivia Aquarium, also called Acuario de Valdivia, is only about five minutes away from the Valdivia Marine Park.

It has many of the same species of animals as the Marine Park.

You can also see octopuses, crocodiles, two penguins, two sea lions, and a dwarf caiman.

Many of these species live in bamboo cabins with interesting information panels about them.

The beach and the Pacific Ocean are within walking distance of the Valdivia Aquarium, and guided bird-watching excursions are available.

You can visit Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

8. The Ark Zoo

The Ark Zoo is also known as Zoologico El Arca. It’s in Archidona, and it covers around 8 hectares.

It has about 45 animal species, including a pair of lions, a blue macaw, two anacondas, and several types of chickens, geese, and ducks.

The monkeys are mischievous, and there’s a canal with lots of carp.

Guided tours of this place usually last from 45 minutes to an hour.

Near the end of the tour, there’s a beautiful bamboo forest that’s perfect for a striking photo.

The Ark Zoo is open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

9. The Paseo de los Monos

The Paseo de los Monos is a wildlife sanctuary in Puyo, about an hour and 40 minutes away from Archidona.

It has several trails and dense tropical vegetation.

You can see many monkey species, birds, turtles, frogs, and a variety of butterflies and other insects.

You can even go for a relaxing swim or a canoe ride in the Chilcayacu River, a tributary of the Puyo River.

You can visit on weekends from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and there’s a restaurant open.

On weekdays, this place is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

10. Eco Zoo San Martin 

People often call Eco Zoo San Martin the Zoologico de San Martin.

It has several large enclosures and about 50 species of reptiles, birds, fish, and mammals.

You can check out Galapagos tortoises, Andean condors, spectacled bears, capybaras, and many other native species.

This zoo is within walking distance of Parque Aventura San Martin, an adventure park where you can go rock climbing.

You can visit every day from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

10 Best Zoos & Aquariums in Ecuador – Summary Table

Zoos & AquariumsAddress
The Quito ZooPircapamba y, Rumichupa, Quito 170209, Ecuador
Amaru Bioparque Cuenca ZoologicoHospital del Río, Azogues - Cuenca km 10, Cuenca, Ecuador
The AmaZOOnico Animal Rescue CenteramaZOOnico, Tena 150108, Ecuador
The El Pantanal ZooVía a Daule Km. 23, Guayaquil, Ecuador
The Quito VivariumAv. Río Amazonas, Quito 170135, Ecuador
The Valdivia Marine Park37PF+4P4, Valdivia, Ecuador
The Valdivia Aquarium37PF+4P4, Valdivia, Ecuador
The Ark ZooSector la Y, km 6 via Archidona- Baeza, Cotundo, Ecuador
The Paseo de los MonosKm. 2 Vía Ecuador, Calle Diez de Agosto, Puyo, Ecuador
Eco Zoo San Martin Baños de Agua Santa ,Tungurahua , 0601, Baños de Agua Santa 180250, Ecuador

Ecuador Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: Ecuador Safety Review

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Currency Does Ecuador Use?

Ecuador conducts business in U.S. dollars, so you won’t need to exchange currencies if you’re coming from the United States.

Most merchants accept Visa and Mastercard, and there are plenty of ATMs available.

Some ATMs only accept four-digit PINs, so it’s a good idea to check with your bank and change your PIN before you leave if needed.

Is a Travel Visa Required?

People from the United States and Canada don’t need a visa if they plan to stay for 90 days or less.

When Is the Best Time to Travel to Ecuador?

Ecuador is on the equator, so the country doesn’t really experience summer or winter.

No matter when you choose to visit, the weather is relatively mild.

What’s Transportation Like in Ecuador?

Only about 20% of the roads are paved, so the ride may be bumpier than you’re used to.

Travel often takes longer as well.

There’s an extensive bus network, and you can call a taxi if a bus isn’t available.

If you want to save time, you can take a short flight to many destinations.

There are international airports in Quito and Guayaquil.

You can rent a car if you’re 21 years old or more, but it’s a good idea to get an International Driving Permit (IDP) first.

Some rental companies and police officers in Ecuador may not recognize a foreign driver’s license.

More than 150 countries recognize the IDP, including Ecuador.

Is Communication Easy?

Ecuador has a modern cell phone network, and you can make calls everywhere except in extremely rural areas.

However, depending on your plan, you may need to pay additional roaming or international fees.

Cities and provinces have single-digit area codes, and some codes cover more than one province.

To make a call from one area code to another, dial 0 before the area code.

When calling a cell phone, dial 08 or 09, depending on the provider.

To make an international call, dial 00 and then the country code.

It’s 1 for the U.S. and Canada. After that, enter the area code and phone number.

For emergency services, you can dial 911.

The number for an international operator is 116.

Directory assistance is 104, and operator assistance is 105.

Most hotels near major cities offer internet access, and many also have satellite TV.

What Is the Electric Voltage?

The electricity in Ecuador uses the same voltage as in the United States, 120 volts with a frequency of 60 hertz.

The electrical outlets look the same, and you won’t need an adapter to use electronics or charge your phone.

However, people from Europe and other places with different electrical systems should get an adapter before they leave.

Is Tipping Expected?

Taxi and bus drivers usually don’t expect tips, and hotel porters often get 50 cents or a dollar per bag.

In most restaurants, a 10% tip is mandatory.

If your server did a good job, you can add an additional 5 to 10%.

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