Palmitos Park is an oasis in the south of the island specialising in tropical birds and home to many more creatures from around the world making it more of a zoo nowadays than the bird sanctuary it once was. There's also daily shows by the dolphins, birds of prey and parrots. Catch the number 45 bus from Maspalomas & Playa del Ingles ot the number 70 bus from Puerto Rico.
The park was founded in 1978 by two German businessmen who shared a love of ornithology and wanted to rescue and protect tropical birds, particularly parrots. Since those days it has grown (in size around 20 hectares / 48 acres) into a tropical park home to all kinds of animals, mammals, birds, fish, butterflies, rare orchids, reptiles......
In 2007 there a fire was started in the forests on the north-east coast of Gran Canaria and it spread out of control, reaching the park itself. It was impossible to protect the park and the animals from the flames; cage doors were left open for the animals to flee as the trees and flora around the park burned. Whilst a small percentage of the birds and animals did perish, most returned (for feeding) once the fire had died down and were rescued, along with the park itself. After a lot of investment by the owners and the government it re-opened a year later, bigger and better than ever. Be sure to check out the exhibition in the park showing the fire damage and how they've recovered.
I visit the park every year myself and am always impressed by the changes and improvements. I'd spend a good half day down there as I'm familiar with a lot of the park but you could easily have a full day out there if you're with the kids though a half day is enough. If you're going by bus be careful of the times going back as they aren't as frequent as they could be and a cab will cost you around 25 euros or so; hire a car!
Now receiving almost a half million visitors ever year, there's plenty of plans for improvements and expansion on the horizon including a much anticipated penguinarium.
The park's open from 10am to 6pm daily. Adult price is around 26 euros, kids €18 and toddlers (3 or 4 years of age) are €8. Not far from the park is Aqua Sur - a large water park and if you plan on visiting that too during your stay (doesn't have to be the same day) you can buy a twin ticket on-line and save money.