One of my favourite things to do with visitors in Tenerife is to go for a wander with them round Jungle Park (also known as Eagle Park or Aguilas Park). The plantings in the grounds are mature and lush and the paths and trails cleverly double back on themselves giving the impression that the place is much bigger than it actually is.
The wild bird show is spectacular. I have no doubt that in a perfect world those birds, the American Bald Eagle, the condors and the vultures would be happier soaring over wilder lands far, far away from here but as animals in captivity go, these at least are given the chance to spread their wings and fly freely a couple of times a day.
The first thing you should do on arrival at Jungle Park is check the time of the Raptor Show and make sure that your meanderings within the park will have you near the show arena in time to pick your seat and get settled. If you want to get a truly bird’s eye view position yourself under the wooden posts which are set there for the birds to perch on.
As a presenter commentates, several species of wild bird are put through their paces. One small falcon may hop from head to head of the spectators, while a couple of secretary birds peck seed politely from their hands and larger birds of prey circle over head preparing for the cue that signals their dramatic, plunging entrance to the show.
In previous years, the presenter used to give a running commentary of the birds, their species, size, diet, habitat and so on in several languages. The show was always prefaced with the most important information: sit down, stay seated, don’t eat anything during the show – again this used to be given in several languages. To my surprise, on this visit the presenter only spoke in SPanish and not even the safety drill was given in any other language.
Towards the end of the show, a dopey Englishwoman stood up and wandered over near to a handler, urged on by her husband, as he angled the camera trying to get a dramatic shot. He quite likely would have got a more dramatic shot than he had bargained for if the handler had not quickly changed position and smartly connected with the bird of prey that he had been signalling to plummet at him from the sky.
The lack of translation would only bother those that expected to hear it. The birds are more than dramatic enough to make up for the missing commentary. I guess it was a cost cutting exercise that put paid to that and to the African dance group that used to welcome the African ibex at the end of the show.
Moving on round the park after the Raptor Show you will come across many other animal and reptile species and also another bird show - parrots this time.
On our most recent visit to Jungle Park, we were accompanied by Scottish couple, Jim and Carol Ramsay who had recently been visiting some theme parks in Florida. They commented on how Tenerife’s Jungle Park measured up most favourably to what they saw on the other side of the pond. Jim is a talented freelance photographer and took the shots that you can see in the gallery below.