Zoo and Wildlife Parks in Cascais
The first thing that amazes us about the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park is the way that the whole area has been so well preserved in such close proximity to a metropolis as large as Lisbon and the beautiful Cascais coast, where numerous top tourist attractions exist.
Covering about a third of the Cascais region, it seems to be one of those rare examples of how man and nature manage to coexist, something very uncommon these days but judging by the park’s immense beauty, not altogether impossible.
With regards to fauna, flora and geomorphology, the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park is particularly rich and varied. Right across the Serra da Sintra’s volcanic outcrop, on land composed of basalt, granite and limestone, grow a wide variety of trees and shrubs amongst which some rare examples of primitive flora can be found, such as the ‘cerquinho’ oak, holm-oak, Sintra carnation (dianthus cintranus) and the very characteristic ‘saudade’ (armeria pseudarmeria), a species endemic to Portugal.
Among the park’s most commonly seen animals are wild rabbits, foxes, kestrels, badgers, weasels, rat-eating snakes, horse-shoe, bats (rhinolophus hiposideros) and dozens of species of birds, most notably the rarely spotted Bonelli eagle and peregrine falcon.
Besides the many must-see attractions mentioned in all the tourist guides, visitors shouldn’t miss the chance of a ride on the little red tram that winds its way through the strikingly beautiful valley between Sintra and Colares.
The Butterfly Zoo, located in the Parque Urbano Quinta de Rana (Quinta de Rana Urban Park), is a space dedicated to butterfly farming, where one can observe the different phases of their life cycle: eggs, larvae, pupae and butterflies. The structure of the butterfly zoo is unique and refers visually to the image of a cocoon in the stage of metamorphosis. Inside, there is a garden, with species from our flora, where butterflies can be seen flying freely. It also has a laboratory, which is open to the public, and whose function is the farming of eggs, larvae and pupae. Here you can get to know the species of butterflies that exist in the area of Cascais, the biology of this group of insects and its interconnection with the plants is taught, and visitors are given the change to observe and learn which contributes to the awakening and interest of the Conservation of Nature and Biodiversity.