Spanish at the Zoo

Names of Animals

Cebra
Una cebra. (A zebra.). Photo by Benh Lieu Song, licensed via Creative Commons.

How well do you know the names of animals in Spanish? Below are the Spanish names for the animals you will find at many zoos as well as some notes about the grammar related to animals.

In Spanish, a zoo is typically known as un jardín zoológico, un zoológico or simply un zoo. Note that because of regional variations, names in use may be different than those here.

Anfibios — Amphibians

la rana — frog
la salamandra — salamander
el sapo — toad
el tritón — newt

Aves — Birds

el águila (feminine noun) — eagle​
el albatros — albatross
el avestruz — ostrich
el buitre — vulture
el búho — owl
la cigüeña — stork
la cacatúa — cockatoo
el colimbo — loon, diver
la cotorra, el loro — parrot
el emú — emu
el flamenco — flamingo
el ganso — goose
la garza — heron
la gaviota — seagull
la grulla — crane
el halcón — falcon, hawk
la ibis — ibis
la lechuza, el búho — owl
el ñandú — rhea
la oca — goose
la paloma — dove
el pato — duck
el pavo — turkey
el pavo real — peacock
el pelícano — pelican
el pingüino — penguin
el somormujo — grebe
el tucán — toucan

Mamíferos— Mammals

el alce — elk, moose
el caballo — horse
el camello — camel
el canguro — kangaroo
la cebra — zebra
el cerdo — pig
el chimpancé — chimpanzee
el ciervo — deer
el elefante — elephant
la foca — seal
el gálago — galago
el gibón — gibbon
el gorila — gorilla
el guepardo — cheetah
la jirafa — giraffe
el hipopótamo — hippopotamus
el oso hormiguero — anteater
el koala — koala
el león — lion
el león marino — sea lion
el leopardo — leopard
el manatí — manatee
el mono — monkey
la nutria — otter
el oso — bear
el panda — panda
el pecarí — peccary
el rinoceronte — rhinoceros
el tapir — tapir
el tigre — tiger
el alce, el uapití — elk
el visón — mink
el zorro — fox

Reptiles — Reptiles

el lagarto, el aligátor — alligator
la culebra — snake
el cocodrilo — crocodile
el caimán — caiman
el serpiente — snake
la tortuga — turtle, tortoise

Gender of Animals

In most cases, the same word is used to refer the male animals of a species as is used for the females. However, as in English, there are some distinctive forms, such as vaca (cow) for the female of the bovine species and toro (bull) for the male.

Animals with differentiated forms are listed below. The one that is listed first is the one you can use as the species name. For example, a group of cattle can be referred to as vacas even if bulls are included, just as in English we could refer to a group of mixed-sex cattle as cows. Similarly, if you saw a single bovine in the distance and didn't know whether it's a cow or bull, you could simply call it a vaca.

el burro, la burra — donkey; type of female donkey or jenny
el caballo, la yegua — stallion or male horse, mare or female horse
el conejo, la coneja — male rabbit, female rabbit
el elefante, la elefanta — male elephant, female elephant
el gato, la gata — male cat, female cat
la gallina, el gallo — hen or chicken, rooster
el lagarto, la lagarta — male lizard, female lizard
el león, la leona — male lion, female lion or lioness
el oso, la osa — male/female bear
la oveja, el carnero — ewe or male sheep, ram or female sheep
el perro, la perra — male dog, female dog or bitch
el ratóen, la ratona — male mouse, female mouse
el tigre, la tigresa — male tiger, female tiger or tigress
la vaca, el toro — cow, bull

If you need to distinguish between the female and male of a species and there aren't separate names, you can use the invariable adjective hembra or macho, respectively.

Thus you could refer to a female koala as un koala hembra and a male koala as un koala macho.

Using the Personal A With Animals

Although the personal a is normally used with people, it can be used with animals such as pets that the speaker has an emotional attachment to. Note the difference in these two sentences:

  • Vi un perro con un solo ojo. (I saw a dog with just one eye. The speaker is referring to an otherwise unknown dog.)
  • El veterinario sacrificó a mi perra de nueve años. (The veterinarian euthanized by 9-year-old dog. The speaker is referring to a pet that she thinks of as a personality.)