The Zoo (sometimes called the Mayagüez Zoo) is an 18-hectare zoo located in the city of Mayagüez, In Puerto Rico. It is the only zoo on the island. It is named after Juan A. Rivero, who was its first director. It has an extensive collection of animals from all continents, as well as new facilities.
In 1952 the University of Puerto Rico Precinct of Mayagüez hired Dr. Juan A. Rivero with the intention of establishing a laboratory of Marine Biology in Puerto Rico. Dr. Rivero is known as the father of Puerto Rican herpetology, describing and naming 120 species of amphibians and lizards for science. In 1952, Dr. Juan A. Rivero was entrusted with the preparation of a project to establish a Tropical Marine Biology Laboratory on Magueyes Island, Parguera. The island had belonged in usufruct to the mayor of Lajas who had a rabbit colony in it but when returning the Island to the government, this ceded the lands to the Venue of Mayagüez of the University of Puerto Rico. The Enclosure planned, originally to establish there a center of physical education, particularly swimming. This original intention did not prosper and it was then that the possibility of using the island for research in the teaching of the biological sciences was considered.
In the preliminary draft it was reported that zoos have a great educational value and can serve as a research center for the University and that in turn would channel the public relations of the marine laboratory in the beginning. It is emphasized that many of the threatened species have survived thanks to the efforts and investigations carried out in such important institutions. Some species of animals such as European bison and wild horse have disappeared in their natural habitat and are only preserved in zoológicos.Se requested $ 22,298 for salaries, operating expenses, equipment and wages, but to amortize the impact of this "huge" sum, it is suggested that $ 0.75 be charged for the entrance to Magueyes Island. In order not to interrupt the investigative work, it is proposed to open to the public, only during the weekends. It should be noted that in its beginnings the island received up to 2,000 visitors, during the weekends.
Initially many of the animals on the island Magueyes were donated. On October 26, 1953, Jaime Benítez thanked the; Mr. Domingo Bonet, the gift of 40 palms, to the Colmado Contrera, for supplying fruits, vegetables and other free foods, to Ignacio Lasalbe when giving Jacobean pigeons, to Mrs. Latoni for donating a caiman, to Don Fermin for three goats and three ducks English Ms. Elena Rodríguez for offering three capuchin monkeys and the Hotel Villa Parguera for contributing with $ 25.00. From then on Mr. Benítez could not write any more. Gifts were becoming more numerous and more frequent and in many cases involved personal services, materials, construction equipment, horses and other animals.It should be noted that, as Dr. John A. Rivero says in The History of the Zoological Garden, a zoo is not a mere collection of animals, which is sufficient to keep them clean and well fed, but a highly technical institution whose function is to disseminate certain biological knowledge of a particular class. It is a place of recreation, but not for fun. There is no justification for depriving animals of their freedom if what they are going to use is for fun. There is justification only if this captivity helps man to better understand nature. The purposes of establishing a zoo are very diverse. It is a scientific institution as well as a cultural element; center for research and education. Rivero directed the Zoological Garden of the University of Puerto Rico from 1954 to 1958.
The zoo was originally opened in 1954, when Benjamin Cole legislator author of the law that created the zoo introduced him. From 2003 the zoo went through an important update with the incorporation of an aviary, spaces for butterflies and an exhibition of anthropódos.
The zoo happened to the lands located in Mayagüez in 1964. It began operations in the "Las Ochenta" Estate on a 93-string property provided by the University of Puerto Rico in the Barrio Miradero de Mayagüez. The Zoo is attached to the Public Parks and Recreation Administration, whose administrator was Mr. Julio E. Monagas. This institution has educational, recreational and scientific research purposes, where the family can meet to meet their need for recreation.Act No. 10 of April 8, 2001, amended Act No. 114 of June 23, 1961, as amended, better known as the "Puerto Rico National Park Company Act." The Company created is a public corporation and governmental instrumentality attached to the Department of Recreation and Sports, with existence and legal personality separate and apart from the government and any official of the same. Said Act integrated the Trust for the Development, Operation and Conservation of Puerto Rico National Parks (Incorporated by Deed No. 3 of December 23, 1998) and the Recreational Development Company, and the National Port Parks Company Rich. Law 9 of April 8, 2001, establishes the "Puerto Rico National Parks System Law", which is operated by the Company. The Company created by this Law is intended to operate a system that integrates all Natural Parks, recreational or historical that integrates National Parks.