The second largest zoo in France, the Montpellier Zoo covers 60 hectares just north of the city center. Opened in 1964, the zoo is laid out like a safari park with open enclosures where most animals roam free. A children’s farm was added in 1982, new enclosures were developed for lions, bears and the rare white rhinoceros in 2001, and giraffes arrived at the zoo in 2010. Altogether, visitors can see more than 100 different animal species, including 50 species of mammals from Africa, South America, Eurasia, Oceania and France, reptiles and amphibians from South America and birds from Africa, South America, Oceania and France.
A greenhouse known as Serre Amazonienne opened in 2007 that is home to 3500 tropical plants. Split into seven climactic zones, the greenhouse covers 2600 square meters and is also home to 500 animals, including anacondas, alligators, piranhas and tarantulas. Every two hours an artificial rainstorm pours down to create the feeling of being in an Amazon rainforest.
The Montpellier Zoo is located four kilometers north of the city center. To get there, take tram 1 to the St-Eloi stop and catch the free number 13 shuttle bus to the zoo. An audio guide is available in English, French, German or Spanish for one Euro and provides an hour of commentary. Monthly guided tours are also offered, but must be booked in advance.