Hispanic Heritage Celebration


September 8, 2014


Hispanic Heritage Celebration at the Los Angeles Zoo Photo Credit: Jamie Pham


Saturday, September 27 and Sunday, September 28, 2014
10 am to 4 pm
Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens shines a spotlight on animals from Latin America, South America and Mexico at its Hispanic Heritage Celebration weekend on Saturday and Sunday, September 27 and 28, 2014, 10 am to 4 pm, that also features live performances by the Grammy Award-winning Mariachi Divas, Latin American-inspired craft projects for youngsters, up-close “Animals and You” visits with Latin American animals, and mini tours and animal enrichment activities in the Zoo’s South America area and the new Rainforest of the Americas. Other musical and dance entertainment includes performances both days by Salvadorian Folklorico group ASOSAL, Music Center on Tour artist Ballet Folclorico do Brasil, and Ballet Folklorico Maria Felix, the Mexican community group. Author Cecilia Velastagui is featured on Saturday with a presentation and reading from her popular Olinguito Speaks Up book for children, and a giant, 21-foot iguana statue for fun photo ops greets visitors in the Zoo’s entry plaza.

The events, highlighting the diversity of Latin American cultures and animals native to the Americas, are held amid Latino Heritage Month. “The Los Angeles Zoo has one of the most diverse collections of reptiles and amphibians in any Zoo, and we are especially proud of our work in Latin America, resulting one of the largest collections of Latin American reptiles in the world,” notes Ian Recchio, L.A. Zoo Curator of Amphibians, Reptiles and Fish. “Mexico has more species of reptiles that any country on earth, and because of that we work with our neighbors to preserve its unique reptile species and display many of them at our LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrates and Reptiles) exhibit.” The Zoo’s Rainforest of the Americas, which opened earlier this year, features an extraordinary collection of endangered and exotic mammals, reptiles, fish and amphibians that inhabit the rainforests of Mexico, Central America and South America.

At 11:30 am on Saturday only, Velástegui leads a story time filled with costumed characters, puppets, animated videos and surprises featuring her award-winning book, Olinguito Speaks Up, awarded the Best Spanish/Bilingual Latino Focused Children’s Picture Book at the 2014 International Latino Book Awards. The book tells a tale of a rainforest olinguito, recently discovered by the Smithsonian Institute’s Dr. Kristofer Helgen, who praises Velástegui’s work by saying, “This story teaches us to honor our elders and to cherish nature, vital messages for all of us.”


The Mariachi Divas! Photo Credit: courtesy of the Mariachi Divas

Hispanic Heritage Celebration is presented by the landmark Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, which draws 1.6 million visitors each year and is home to a diverse collection of 1,100 animals representing 250 different species, many of which are rare or endangered. Its lush grounds on 113 acres feature a botanical collection comprising over 800 different plant species with approximately 7,000 individual plants. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), whose members meet rigorous professional standards for animal welfare, the Zoo has achieved renown as an international leader in the preservation of endangered species and a conservation center for the care and study of wildlife. Among its most popular habitats are the LAIR, Elephants of Asia, Campo Gorilla Reserve and Rainforest of the Americas. The private, non-profit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA), which has supported the Zoo in partnership with the City of Los Angeles for more than five decades and provides funding for and operates seven essential Zoo departments. As evidence of the Zoo’s popularity, GLAZA attracts one of the largest membership bases of any cultural organization in Los Angeles. The Zoo’s location in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways ideally positions it as a convenient destination enjoyed by locals and vacationers of all ages who can visit every day of the year except Christmas Day.

Hispanic Heritage Celebration activities are free with paid Zoo admission. Zoo admission is $19 for general admission (ages 13 to 61); $16 for seniors (ages 62+), and $14 for children (ages 2 to 12). No ticket is required for children under 2. Zoo admission for Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association members is free.

The Los Angeles Zoo is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways. 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Free parking is available every day, and Preferred Parking ($6) is offered most weekends and holidays. For additional information, contact (323) 644-6042 or go here for tickets