Stalking the Gray-Tufted Gruñon

This afternoon, San Geraldo and I went to Bioparc Fuengirola, the Fuengirola Zoo. I love zoos. Not the old-fashioned kind with the cages and the unhappy animals. I like the new zoos. The zoos with natural environments. The zoos that save and protect. The Fuengirola Zoo used to be an old-fashioned, depressing, zoo. It’s now an amazing “Bioparc,” with large, natural environments (with different animals sharing spaces) and vast conservation and education projects. It’s not huge and it’s right in the center of town. But when you walk through the front gate, you enter a different world. As they say on their website: “There is today no ethical sense in keeping wild animals in captivity unless this helps to preserve their species in the natural world.”

Several exhibits were being spruced up or renovated in preparation for “season.” But there was still plenty to see. And, since we bought annual passes, we can go back whenever we want. I thought I might have to go to the zoo alone today. But I was very fortunate to have company. Otherwise, I never would have seen the very rare, Gray-Tufted Gruñon in such a natural environment. Standing over 6 feet tall, the Gruñon is hardly ever seen in public.



Gruñon means “grumpy” and it’s the name given for Grumpy in the Spanish version of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Gruñon has also become, in the past year and a half, another name for San Geraldo. Yes, he can be “gruñon” and, yes, he is one-of-a-kind. Oh, and yes, sometimes when he’s being “gruñon,” he is on my endangered list.


Today, however, the Gray-Tufted Gruñon was the perfect companion. Well, to be honest, the Gray-Tufted Gruñon is always the perfect companion, gruñon or not. We had a great time at the zoo and walked home through town and along the beach, stopping for lunch at the waterfront. Once we got home, he even filed away at one of the lobby door keys and got it to work! Back to calling him San Geraldo.



Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

36 thoughts on “Stalking the Gray-Tufted Gruñon”

  1. But that particular gruñón's plumage is black and drab, didn't know this species were apt to wear glasses and carry a bag…lol


  2. This zoo is truly amazing. It didn't feel like the animals were enclosed and suffocating. San Geraldo liked the place you can tell. SO is it true that there is only 1 Gray-Tufted Grunon remaining on the planet? How sad!

  3. Another 'gem' right in your backyard!! Incredible photos Mitch!
    And speaking of endangered species…..we all can be on 'that' list every now and then!! lol Give yours a big hug for us. Hugs are good.

    1. Jim:
      We took the commuter train there and walked home. But, it's only about 2.5 km from our house and a beautiful walk. It makes me really happy. It even makes the Gruñon really happy.

  4. LOL! Just when I thought the picture of the two weird birds was the famous Gray-Tufted Grunon…

    Thanks for sharing the pictures of the zoo. I had been avoiding zoos because of their unnatural quarters, but this looks much better.

    Say hi to the Gray-Tufted Grunon for me, and remind him how unique and special he is. As are you.

    1. Jo:
      Close. Those are Gray-Crowned Cranes. Distant relatives of the Gray-Tufted Gruñon.

      This zoo was uplifting. Beautiful designed. Large, natural-looking environments.

      The Gray-Tufted Gruñon sends love back to you!

  5. Isn't it wonderful to have someone you enjoy spending time with? 🙂

    Hey, this is great news about Fuengirola having a great,open zoo. St. Louis has a great (free!) zoo, and I think it is rather thought of as the zoo that started this concept of a non-cage zoo. Marlin Perkins was responsible for its design in the new zoo concept, I do believe. He lived here (surely, like me, you must have spent Sunday nights watching Marlin Perkins "Mutual of Omaha" show, and then Disney??) 🙂

    1. Judeet:
      Oh, how could I forget Marlin Perkins… and that voice… and those Mutual of Omaha commercials he did during the show! I've heard great things about the St. Louis Zoo, but I've never been to St. Louis. I didn't realize the Marlin Perkins connection.

  6. It appears that grunon is pronounced the same as grunion, those little fish that they scoop up on California beaches when they come to spawn. They have a similar smelt run up in Duluth when they scoop up the little silver fish by the bucket. At least your gray-tufted grunon is safe from all that kind of nonsense!

  7. That second picture is spectacular. I just love it, probably because I'm a Cat Lady.
    I am also, and while loathe to admit it I am looking for a twelve-step program, sometimes a bit of a Gray-Tufted Gruñon myself.
    At least that's what Carlos says ……

  8. If you ever come up to the Loire Valley, we have a world renowned zoo here in St.-Aignan (it's called Beauval). They specialize in breeding and do so for other zoos around the word. Some of the animals you saw may have been bred here! Last year they acquired two pandas from China and built a huge Asian exhibit to highlight them. It's a very cool zoo.

  9. It's nice to think of zoos as places where animals sit and wait for examples of the human species to walk by …

    My favourites are the vast drive-through wildlife parks where monkeys get the chance to rip off wing mirrors and wiper blades, and change wheels on your car if you stop for too long.

    1. Owl Wood:
      I've never been to one of those drive-thru wildlife parks. But, we went on a "photo caravan" at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. We got to hand-feed giraffes and more. Pretty amazing… as were the giraffes' 18p-inch tongues!

  10. I am not a fan of zoos but. See the need of them with protected species…. I also think that zoo animals look between in areas with better climates….. British zoos always look a little bleeding sad

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