Despite continued habitat destruction— forests are logged, wetlands filled, and savannas plowed—great swaths of the Puerto Vallarta  region still abound with wildlife. Common in the temperate pine-oak forest highlands are mammals familiar to U.S. residents—such as mountain lion (puma), coyote, fox (zorro), rabbit (conejo), and quail (codorniz).
However, the tropical coastal forests and savannas are home to fascinating species seen only in zoos north of the border. The reality of this dawns on travelers when they glimpse something exotic, such as raucous, screeching swarms of small green parrots rising from the roadside, or a coati nosing in the sand just a few feet away from them at the forested edge of an isolated beach.
Population pressures have nevertheless decreased wild habitats, endangering many previously abundant animal species. If you are lucky, you may find a tracker who can lead you to a band of now-rare reddish-brown spider monkeys (monos) raiding a wild fruit tree. And deep in the mountain vastness, you may be led to a view of the endangered striped cat, the ocelot (tigrillo) or its smaller relative, the margay. On such an excursion, if you are really fortunate, you may hear the “chesty” roar or catch a glimpse of a jaguar, the fabled el tigre.