Two kneeling elephants made of Elbe sandstone support two heavy columns, on top of which is a curved roof, decorated with golden oriental paintings and imaginative carvings: even the entrance to the Zoologischer Garten – the Elefantentor ("Elephant Gate") built in 1899 – is unique. And it really is a zoo of superlatives: it’s the oldest one in Germany. With around 25,000 animals from more than 2,000 species, it’s the most important collection in the world. The Zoo-Aquarium is the largest public aquarium in the world. The zoo has a big cat house, a hippopotamus house and a nocturnal animal house, as well as the biggest bird house in Europe. Give your family a treat and take them to Berlin’s famous zoo.
New pandas for the zoo
Since it opened in 1844, the zoo has had many famous animals – from Bobby the gorilla to Knut the polar bear.
Bao Bao and Yan Yan were everybody’s favourites at the zoo, but since the pair died, the zoo hasn’t had any pandas. Now, talks are done with China, and a pair of pandas will be moving into the zoo in summer 2017. A new enclosure in the style of a Chinese musical pavilion is already built.
In the mid-19th century, the famous naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, the African explorer Martin Hinrich Lichtenstein and the landscape designer Peter Joseph Lenné proposed the opening of a zoological garden in Berlin. After three years under construction, the site designed by Lenné opened its gates in 1844. Its first inhabitants were the animals that King Friedrich Wilhelm IV donated from his menagerie and pheasantry in the Tiergarten. Over the years, the site of the zoo was redesigned and extended a number of times. Of the 3700 animals it housed before the Second World War, only 91 survived, and many of its buildings were destroyed. Today, the Zoologischer Garten is one of Berlin's most visited attractions.
The Zoo-Aquarium, which you can also visit separately, has biotopes for sharks, piranhas and coral reef fish. The terrariums contain insects, amphibians and reptiles. Jellyfish pulse in glass cylinders. The aquarium is home to 13,000 animals.
Feeding times and guided tours at the zoo
Whether it’s wolves, orang-utans or hippopotamuses – the daily feeding times for the zoo’s hungry inhabitants are always a spectacle for all ages. You can take a special tour to get to know the animals better, or learn about more specialised topics such as the fauna of Africa or South America. Evening tours and photography workshops are also part of the zoo experience.
Information for schools
The Zoo School offers tours for schools tailored to every age. Admittance for Berlin schoolchildren is €4 each, and an accompanying adult gets in free of charge for every 15 children. Classes from outside Berlin pay €6.50 per pupil. The guided tour costs €40. If you want a more individualised visit for your class, you can download various learning trails from the zoo’s website.
Information for families
With all its events, the zoo is still one of the most popular attractions in Berlin for all the family. In the summer and autumn holidays there are quiz safaris, where children can find out more about the zoo’s inhabitants.
At the fenced-off petting zoo there are goats, geese, sheep and a donkey so that children can get right up close to domestic animals, and climb around like monkeys in the playground. And when the little naturalists have explored so much that their feet need a rest, they can continue their expedition in a handcart (hire charge €4 + €10 deposit).