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Berlin Zoological Garden
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrGermany’s oldest zoo was originally opened in 1844 and, boasting over 3 million visitors a year, is nowadays the most popular animal park in Europe. Spread out over 35 acres just a few kilometers west of Berlin’s city center, it is a revered sanctuary and breeding center for more than 20,000 animals representing over 1,500 species. Although always popular with local and overseas visitors, and arguably the best family attraction in the city, Berlin Zoo was propelled into the international tourism stage when one of its newest residents at the time, Knut the Polar Bear, captured worldwide attention in 2006.
The highlights at this zoo are the polar bears of course, as well as rhinos, several species of Great Apes, brown bears, and all the underwater wildlife found in the extensive aquarium just next door. The domesticated animal enclosure, where kids can feed and pet llamas, alpacas and goats, is one of the most popular attractions, as are the many feeding shows organized throughout the day.
Brief HistoryAs was the story with many of Europe’s zoos, the Berlin Zoo was created as a menagerie for the ruling royal family and, although many were never intended to be opened to the public, this one actually was. King Friederich IV granted his animal collection to the citizens of Germany and even though the sentiment was quite nice, it was also rather short-lived. Having suffered tremendous damage during both World Wars, the zoo was all but closed down for several decades in the early 1900s and, had the height of the bombings during WWII, was home to less than 100 animals, out of an estimated 4,000.
The four-story aquarium, which was built in 1913 and miraculously survived the calamities of war, has been completely restored, as has the rest of the zoological park.
Planning your VisitThis is one of the city’s major attractions as well as one of its largest. One of the biggest mistake most visitors make, is to think they’ll be able to ‘do it’ in just half a day. A comprehensive tour of the zoo, including several feeding shows, a meal or two, a walk around the stunning natural gardens, and a play on the swings (for the kids) is likely to take up about 5 or 6 hours, so plan accordingly.
One of the most adored features of the Berlin Zoo are the animal feedings and shows held every half hour, starting form 10 a.m. up until 4.30 .pm. The most popular ones, and perhaps the ones you should plan your visit around, are:
- Polar bears - 10.30 a.m.
- Seals - 11 a.m.
- Gorillas - 11.30 a.m. & 2 p.m.
- Orang-utans - 1.30 p.m.
- California Sea Lions - 3.15 p.m.
If you want to save some precious time, download this handy online map and ascertain the enclosures you’re most interested in seeing, and head to the zoo with a plan of action.
Other points of interest at the zoo are The Hippo House, with its incredible underwater windows, the very extensive Primate House, home to chimps, gorillas and orang-utan; as well as the Carnivore House, where you’ll find crowd favorites like lions and tigers.
The aquarium is right next door and necessitates an extra entry fee to be paid but is also very much worth your while. This is rated as one of the most biodiverse aquariums in the world, and home to over 9,000 animals, including sharks, reptiles and over a dozen different coral basins. The aquarium also holds feeding times, albeit on Mondays and Thursdays only.
- Freshwater fish: 1.30 p.m.
- Bonnethead Sharks: 2 p.m.
- Black Tip Reef Sharks and Moray Eels: 2.30 p.m.
Admission InfoThe zoo is open from 9 a.m. until 6.30 p.m. in spring and summer (March to October), and 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. from November to March. Adult tickets cost €13 ($15) and kids pay just €7 ($7.48). Family tickets ( €35 ($40)) and student concessions ( €10 ($12)) are also available.
The aquarium follows similar opening times (9 a.m. - 6 p.m. all year long) and entry fees as the zoo. However, should you wish to visit both, you can purchase a combined zoo + aquarium ticket for €20 ($23) (adults) and €10 ($12) (kids).
How to Get ThereBerlin Zoo has two main entrances, the most flamboyant (and least busy) being through the ornamental elephant gates on Budapester Straße. The busiest entry gates are on Hardenbergplatz, right across the road from the S-Bahn and U-Bahn Zoologischer Garten metro stations.
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Author: Laura Pattara. Last updated: Jun 26, 2015