1888 - UNIVERSAL EXPOSITION IN THE PARC DE LA CIUTADELLA
The Universal Exposition was staged in the Parc de la Ciutadella, the first major park in contemporary Barcelona, which had arisen from the demolition of the former Ciutadella, or citadel, the bastion from which Philip V had watched over Barcelona after the Catalan defeat of 1714.
The Parc de la Ciutadella was designed by Josep Fontserè and finally ruled out any attempts to build on the land, so allowing the space to exist on which Barcelona Zoo was created.
1892 - BARCELONA ZOO OPENS
Banker and entrepreneur Lluís Martí-Codolar offered his collection of exotic and native animals to Barcelona City Council. The Mayor of Barcelona at the time, Manuel Porcar, approved the acquisition of the animals and their installation in a publicly-owned site: the Parc de la Ciutadella.
To organise the city's new zoo and take care of the animals, vet, doctor, taxidermist and acclaimed animal lover Francesc Darder was appointed its director, and on 24 September, the Festival of the Mercè, Barcelona's patron saint, Barcelona Zoo was opened to the public.
1893 - THE ZOO AS PUBLIC SPACE FOR THE PEOPLE
The Zoo was conceived as a public urban space whose priority aim was wildlife conservation. For this reason, the Technical Committee of the Natural Science Museum and Zoological and Botanical Gardens of Barcelona, created that year by the City Council to promote research and knowledge of nature, set as its main objective ensuring the scientific nature of the institution and established the aims of entertainment and leisure for the public.
1899 - THE ZOO ORGANISES ITSELF
An organisational report was drafted, setting out the need to adapt the municipal museums and parks to ensure knowledge of the diversity of the fauna in Catalonia and the many economic uses that man can make from living beings.
In that same year, the Zoo was divided into three large sections: primates, aquatic animals and large quadrupeds, as well as a large space devoted to numerous varieties of geese and chicken, the main source of funding for the collection through the sale of their eggs, young, feathers and dung.
1906-1909 - THE ZOO IS RENOVATED AND RECOVERS THE OLD AQUARIUM
The Natural Science Committee was created under the administration of Mayor Domènec Joan Sanllehy with the aim of administering and promoting the municipal science collections, including the Zoo, and organising public cultural resources related to Natural Science. The old Aquarium in the monumental fountain in the Ciutadella was reopened, and now included a new ichthyological laboratory devoted to breeding fish, which was created as a dependent section of the Zoo. Equipped with modern facilities, this reproduction laboratory produced a considerable number of fish, which were used to repopulate rivers and lakes throughout the country.
1915 - AFTER GRANDDAD COMES JÚLIA
With the death of one of the Zoo's most iconic animals, Avi (Granddad), Barcelona Zoo's first elephant who was part of the original Martí-Codolar collection and who became a beloved public institution and the star of many urban legends, another pachyderm arrived, Júlia, a gift from the Viceroy of Morocco, Muley Hafid, who became the Zoo's most famous icon, to the point where Àngel Guimerà and conductor Amadeu Vives composed a hymn to her that was sung in the municipal schools
1918 - FRANCESC DARDER DIES AND HIS SON TAKES OVER MANAGEMENT OF THE ZOO
The Zoo's first director, Francesc Darder, died from a snake bite and his son Jeroni took over the management of the Zoo with the collaboration of vet Pere Màrtir Rossell as conservator of the collection. The financial difficulties of the Natural Science Committee had their effect on the running of the Zoo and the maintenance of the facilities, so the proposal of moving the facilities to another site was put forward for the first time.
1927 - THE ZOO STARTS CHARGING ADMISSION
For the first time in its history, the Zoo started charging for admission, becoming a new source of funding that would allow it to introduce improvements to the facilities and earn the respect of visitors. With an admission price of 25 cents, the income generated at the ticket offices soon exceeded all expectations. This saw the start of a great age that enabled the renewal of the Zoo: the collection was expanded with the incorporation of new animals, such as a pair of tigers, a tapir and a group of camels, the complex was enlarged and improvements were made to the facilities.
1931 - THE EVOLUTION TOWARDS A ZOOLOGICAL GARDEN
Jeroni Darder retired and Pere Màrtir Rossell took over the management at a time marked by the proclamation of the Second Republic. His idea, and that of his successor Ignasi de Sagarra, was to see the Zoo not as a collection of animals but as a modern zoological garden for the study of nature with a clear social scientific function. This urban, public, scientific and conservationist nature meant that the Committee approved new statutes which set out that “the aim of the institution is to exhibit, research and disseminate the main biological types that characterise exotic fauna without undervaluing the exhibition of native species and breeds, ensuring their conservation, and through these activities, stimulate public knowledge of Zoology.” This project sought to change the Zoo's location and move it to the mountain of Montjuïc, but with the outbreak of the civil war, the project was halted.
1936-1950 - WAR PLUNGES THE ZOO INTO PENURY
The Spanish Civil War marked the start of a new phase in the Zoo, without a doubt the saddest in its long history. With the lack of food during the war, which led to the death of many of the animals through starvation, including Júlia the elephant, Francoist bombing, which caused many more losses to the collection (on 13 July 1938 alone, four bombs fell on the Zoo), and the long post-war years and their negative economic, social and political consequences on the country and the city, the Zoo was plunged into penury.
1956 - THE RESURGENCE OF BARCELONA ZOO
The Zoo once again underwent a significant drive towards its modernisation with the approval of the refurbishment and extension project under the leadership of Antoni Jonch i Cuspinera, someone who would become a key figure in the modern history of Barcelona's zoological collection. Under the administration of Mayor Josep Mª de Porcioles, the traditional cages were replaced by bigger spaces more suited to the animals' needs in an attempt to reproduce their natural habitat, and the area of the complex was expanded, which was fundamental as it allowed a considerable amount of space to be carved out for improvements to the facilities.
1960 - THE CREATION OF THE IKUNDE ADAPTATION CENTRE
The new statutes of the Municipal Zoo Service were approved, with the creation of a Board of Directors chaired by the mayor and comprising five city councillors and four experts. With this, the Zoo started to become a great zoological centre with a scientific and educational purpose and began to take on an important position in Europe. As part of this process of modernisation, a veterinary service was created and the Zoo positioned itself as a leading institution with the first in situ research experience, which entailed the creation of the Ikunde Animal Adaptation and Experimentation Centre, led by Jordi Sabater Pi, in Equatorial Guinea.
1962 - SNOW FALLS
The great snowfall in Barcelona on Christmas Day 1962 wreaked havoc throughout the city, which was left virtually paralysed for days. The temperature fell below – 3º C and some parts of the city saw snowdrifts of up to 70 cm. The trams and buses stopped working and municipal services such as rubbish collection ground to a halt. The Zoo also paid the consequences and some species, especially ones from hotter climates, were affected. Despite the efforts of the workers at the Zoo, many animals died of cold during that time
1963 - THE NEW AFRICAN SAVANNAH COMES TRUE
Started in 1962, construction finished on the spectacular installation called “Great African Fauna”. Covering nearly 8,000 m2 and made up of a series of platforms in the form of peninsulas completely surrounded by water, it houses a large cross-section of species typical of the African savannah: elephants, buffaloes, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, zebras, giraffes, kudus, gnus and different bird species. Viewing of the complex, which can be done at ground level or from a raised walkway that surrounded the entire perimeter, was innovative as it gave the visitor the impression that there was no separation between the different areas
1966 - SNOWFLAKE ARRIVES
On 1 October 1966, some local people took a small albino gorilla, with white hair and pink skin, who was in a very bad state of health, to the Ikunde Centre in Equatorial Guinea. Aware of the animal's importance, the director of the centre, Jordi Sabater Pi took him in to help him recover, and once the animal was in a better condition, Sabater Pi sent him to Barcelona Zoo, where he arrived on 1 November the same year.
The gorilla was given the name of Snowflake (Floquet de Neu in Catalan), and his acquisition became news around the world, largely thanks to his being on the cover of the prestigious National Geographic travel magazine, and he brought acclaimed universal prestige to the Zoo from the very first moment.
1968 - THE DOLPHINARIUM AND AQUARAMA PROJECT COMES INTO BEING
In another indication of the modernity driven by the management of Antoni Jonch, in the early 1960s, the possibility was explored of exhibiting dolphins in the Zoo for the first time. This project would take hold and come into being on the day of the Mercè in 1968 with the opening of the latest component: the covered pavilion. The complex of what would be one of the first dolphinariums in Europe comprises two areas: a closed one for the winter, with banked seating facing a main pool, and a circular open area with a large open-air central tank and two floors devoted to exhibiting fish around it.
1972 - THE REPTILE HOUSE AND THE AVIARY OPEN THEIR DOORS
Opened in July 1972, these two unique buildings allow tropical species that need controlled environments throughout the year to be kept. The one-storey Aviary, covering 4,200 m2, features the necessary facilities to maintain a complete collection of birds from different tropical jungles around the world with the adequate climate control. The same is true for the Reptile House, covering 1,200 m2 and covering two floors, the first for the display of a wide variety of tropical amphibians and reptiles to visitors and the second for technical internal use and as an educational centre for schools.
1975 - EDUCATION, ONE OF THE CORNERSTONES OF THE ZOO
The Zoo's Education Department was opened, known then as the “Practical Theoretical School”, the first to exist in Spain and one of the first in Europe. Since its beginnings, it directed its efforts at schools and at all kinds of public interested in animals and naturalism, primarily university students. Initially, the department's work focused on guided tours for schoolchildren and zoological dissemination courses. Later, over the years, the Zoo's educational offer steadily diversified, expanding and adapting to new times and trends.
1983 - ULISSES THE KILLER WHALE ARRIVES
The Zoo welcomed one of the animals that would become one of the most beloved of visitors to the Zoo in recent years, Ulisses the killer whale, who quickly became one of the undisputed stars of the Zoo. Caught in 1980 in Icelandic waters, this young male of one of the biggest and most powerful mammals in the world first went to the facilities of a private zoo in El Vendrell, but after two years it was unable to keep the animal in adequate conditions. His new home was Barcelona Zoo, where he lived in a large tank in the Aquarama with the dolphins for eleven years, during which time he won the hearts of the people of Barcelona.
1985 - THE ZOO, PRIVATE MUNICIPAL COMPANY
This year saw the retirement of the Zoo's director, Antoni Jonch, an inseparable figure from the recent history of Barcelona Zoo, its changes and its conceptual evolution.
The same year, the Zoo ceased to depend on the Municipal Parks and Gardens Service, with which it had been merged in 1968, to become a Private Municipal Company. This new company brought about the relaunch of the Zoo and the fostering of its international links. Financial resources improved and the formula of sponsorship of the Zoo by private companies was implemented.
1989 - THE ZOO BEGINS A THOROUGH GENERAL RENOVATION
A change of strategy came about and with it a new era for zoos all over the world. The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) was created, which campaigned for principles and practices on the correct handling of animals and their wellbeing. Barcelona Zoo shared this philosophy and applied it, becoming the leader of the Spanish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AEZA) at that time.
Following the philosophy of the WAZA, as of that time, the Zoo improved its space and viewing by visitors by remodelling the Farm or Children's Zoo, where children could be in direct contact with the animals, the Doñana National park aviary, inhabited by local fauna and flora, the small primates gallery, the titi monkey gallery, the big cats complex and the extension of the veterinary service.
1992 - THE ZOO CELEBRATES ITS CENTENARY
A century of intense relationship with the city. In September 1992, the year the Olympics came to Barcelona, the Zoo celebrated its centenary with a commemorative event led by Mayor Pasqual Maragall. Notable during the course of the celebrations were such events as the unveiling of the sculpture of a reclining lion, made for the 1988 Universal Exposition and loaned by the National Art Museum of Catalonia, which stands in front of the Aquarama, the staging of the "100 Years of the Zoo" exhibition, which gave a chronological view of the origins and evolution of the institution, and the publication of the book entitled "Barcelona Zoo. One Hundred Years of History" by Emili Pons.
1994-1999 - THE ZOO IS RENOVATED WHILE ULISSES LEAVES
Ulisses the killer whale left for Sea World in San Diego, in the United States, but the Zoo welcomed many new species: babirusas, giant anteaters, anoas, red pandas, African wild dogs, snow panthers, Hawaiian geese, bongos and even a pair of koalas, loaned for a few months by San Diego Zoo, the first time this animal could be seen in Spain. It was a time of large-scale construction of new facilities, such as the Madagascar baobab, the giant turtles enclosure, the cheetahs enclosure and the prairie dogs enclosure, and many others were refurbished, such as the gorilla house and the crocodile enclosure in the Reptile House.
2002 - THE ZOO HOSTS THE NINETEENTH ANNUAL EAZA CONGRESS
Between 17 and 22 September, Barcelona Zoo played host to the Nineteenth Annual Congress of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), the first time that this prestigious international institution met in Spain. The congress was attended by 520 experts from over 200 Zoos and Aquariums in 35 countries, which was a record in terms of participation.
This year also saw the renovation of many facilities: the sea lions pool was remodelled with artificial stone, the pygmy hippopotamuses had a new lake, the Montserrat mountains were restored to make room for Iberian fauna, the titi monkeys interior facilities were extended with open-air islands and the Aviary was almost completely renovated with a major collection of birds from the tropical jungles of the world.
2003 - GOODBYE SNOWFLAKE, YOU'LL ALWAYS BE WITH US
Snowflake (Floquet de Neu) died on 24 November from skin cancer. Born in Equatorial Guinea, the only albino gorilla known to date lived in the Zoo for 37 years and became a genuine international symbol for the institution and for the city of Barcelona. He was also a prolific father with numerous descendants of up to 21 children, and he became a grandfather: Nimba and Batanga, his first granddaughters, were born in the Zoo in 1989. His memory and his legend, and many of his family, still alive on.
2004 - THE GORILLA HOUSE, IN MEMORY OF SNOWFLAKE
Dedicated to all the gorillas in the world and especially to Snowflake, the Gorilla House is a 200 m2 exhibition that sets out to bring together all the information that we have about gorillas. It is organised in five large sections: the first vision of gorillas that man had; the first scientists to study gorillas in the world, including Jordi Sabater Pi; the story of Snowflake; the biology, genetics and learning ability of the species; and, finally, their conservation status and the actions being taken worldwide to ensure this.
2008 - NEW FACILITIES FOR MACAWS IN THE ZOO
Thirteen new homes were built for macaws and other psittacines in the Zoo's palm Grove, a leafy and tropical area characterised by its tall palm trees and dense undergrowth. With a daring design of vertical tubes and wooden strips in different colours, each facility covers an area of 21.5 m2, with a part on view to the public through windows, a sleeping area that is not visible from the outside and an a broad maintenance corridor.
Presentation of the Zoo's Advisory Council, which is made up of ten experts in the field of biology, physics and other sciences and is consultative and supportive in nature, which advises, fosters and validates proposals in the field of education, conservation and research.
Presentació del Consell Assessor del Zoo, format per deu experts en el camp de la biologia, la física i altres ciències, de caràcter consultiu i de suport, que assessora, impulsa i valida propostes en el camp de l’educació, la conservació i la recerca
2009 - THE ZOO'S RESEARCH AND CONSERVATION PROGRAMME IS CREATED
Barcelona Zoo fostered an ambitious Research and Conservation Programme (PRIC) as the cornerstones of our institution. Its approach followed the action guidelines and strategies set out by the research committees of the WAZA (World Association of Zoos and Aquariums) and the EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria) while aiming to meet the demands of our society. When zoos apply research to the conservation of species, and therefore to the preservation of the planet's biodiversity, it is one of the most important tools for guaranteeing its future. The main lines of action are the Framework Programmes and the Specific Programmes of collaboration with other institutions for research projects and the annual call for the Grant.
2010 - LAND OF DRAGONS: NEW KOMODO DRAGON FACILITIES
The Land of Dragons was opened, a complex that recreates the habitat of Komodo dragons, the largest saurians in the world. With a completely original design for this type of animal due to its concept and its presentation to visitors, the complex enables the dragons to live in different spaces alongside a number of Indonesian species, such as muntjacs, Nicobar pigeons, imperial pigeons and Java sparrows. The technical features of the complex, such as the sliding roof to let in sunlight or humidification in the form of mist, ensure the animals' wellbeing, while at the end of the route there is an Interpretation Centre with an audiovisual projection with 3D audio equipment.
2011 - THE ZOO GAINS SPACE AND IMPROVES THE ELEPHANT HOUSE
A new area of 5,700 m2 was included in the Zoo, which had been the Road Education Circuit of the Municipal Police in the Parc de la Ciutadella. This is the first extension to the Zoo in 48 years. Two native species under threat have been installed in this new area, the black vulture and the bearded vulture, which has become part of the collection for the first time. We should also highlight the extensive landscaped area and the sculpture entitled Group of Antelopes, dedicated to Walt Disney, originally situated in front of the old Ciutadella ticket offices.
The African elephants facilities have been remodelled, with the inclusion of 440 m2 of new sleeping areas, a lightweight structure that lets in plenty of natural light and allows the animals to see out.
2012 - 120th ANNIVERSARY OF THE ZOO AND CREATION OF THE BARCELONA ZOO FOUNDATION
Beginning with the photographic exhibition “1892/2002. Evolution of the Zoo: from exhibition to knowledge”, many activities are planned for the whole year to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the opening of the Zoo of Barcelona on 1892.
Under the scope of the new Strategic Plan 2012-2020, established to consolidate the Zoo as a conservation and research centre of the 21st century, the Barcelona Zoo Foundation is created, which will be in charge of developing the ex situ and in situ conservation goals and projects, under the Research and Conservation Program of the Zoo.
2013 - NEW FACILITY FOR THE MONTSENY BROOK NEWT
The new facility for the Montseny brook newts, the most endangered Catalan vertebrate, opens to the public, designed with aquarium systems that keep a huge volume of cool water in constant circulation, in order to emulate the environmental conditions of Montseny’s streams and thus achieve this species’ reproduction.
The hippo facility is remodelled, now including a great lake with divisible compartments and a new filtration system that involves a great saving of water. Moreover, the new facility of banded mongooses, adapting the former guanaco facility, offers a space with different viewing points, a garden recreating the vegetation of African savannahs and a network of subterranean galleries, such as the ones built by animals in the wild.
With a new transformation phase of the large African Savannah complex, the total area of the elephant facility is doubled, reaching 3,200 m2.
2014 - THE AREAS OF GIANT TURTLES AND MARMOSETS ARE EXPANDED
The size of the facility of giant turtles is extended almost twice as before, with a new upholstery grass courtyard and a new resting room for the animals, which allows visitors to see them even when low temperatures prevent them from going outside.
The outer facilities of marmosets are remodelled and a considerable space is added, by substituting the stream separating the animals from the public for a fence and a viewpoint with a large crystal wall.
2015 - THE ZOO’S REMODELLING CONTINUES WITH THE NEW FACILITIES FOR ORANGUTANS, GIRAFFES AND DRILLS
The new facility of Bornean orangutans is inaugurated, with a total of 1.000 m2 divided in four connected areas: two closed spaces with controlled climatic conditions of 103 and 56 m2 respectively, and two outside nature-like areas of 453 and 216 m2, that include different structures, supports and aerial elements which allow for a smart use of the available space by the animals. These four areas can be watched by visitors from different viewing spots, among which there is the wide central viewing spot.
Included within the area of the new biome of the Sahel’s savannah, giraffes will also be able to make use of their brand new facility, with a total area of almost 1,350 m2 including the courtyard and the resting rooms, that are at least 7.6 m high to allow the animals to move freely and comfortably.
Drills also have a new facility, in the area where wild goats used to live, with a large central courtyard and resting rooms with temperature control that have a large crystal wall, so visitors can observe the animals during the days bad weather does not let them go outside.
2016 - REMODELLING OF THE DOLPHINARIUM AND THE ZOO’S FARM, CREATION OF A WORK TEAM TO DEFINE THE NEW ZOO MODEL AND NEW MANGABEY AND PLAYGROUND FACILITIES
The visitors’ area of the dolphinarium is remodelled and the Zoo substitutes the traditional educational scheduled sessions for a facility where visitors can uninterruptedly observe the daily life of dolphins, in a manner more similar to the rest of animals in the Zoo.
The remodelling of the Zoo’s Farm is started, in order to improve its educational aspect and increase significantly the educational activities carried out in this facility, so families and children can learn while playing.
A new facility of the white-collared mangabey, a species with whom the Zoo is developing an important conservation program under the scope of the EAZA and a new playground are added. Both facilities are designed to be inclusive, so people with special needs can also make use of them.
On the beginning of 2016, the City Council of Barcelona created a work team to establish the new future model for the Zoo of Barcelona. This team is composed by 40 members, representing different political parties and the main pro-animal rights’ associations, scientists and zoology experts, representatives of the Barcelona neighbourhood association, Zoo technicians and employees’ representatives.