Over the course of its history, the zoo’s once small collection of animals has experienced deep crises and glorious international fame, survived destructive war, and developed into the most species-rich zoo in the world.

"Whoever wishes to shape the future must first look back at the past."
Dr. Andreas Knieriem, Director Zoo und Tierpark Berlin

Tracing the past


Zoologischer Garten Berlin opened on 1 August 1844 as the first zoo in Germany. This makes it the oldest public limited company in the city.


The Aquarium was opened, designed by animal behaviour biologist Oskar Heinroth.


The first step in the international management of animal populations has been the establishment of studbooks. With the studbook for the European bison the first animal directory of its kind was created in 1923 at Zoo Berlin.


In the following years, grids were replaced by ditches and spacious open-air grounds with natural stone were built, which still shape the image today. These include the ibex rock and the lion habitat.

1933 – 1945

During the National Socialist dictatorship, the zoo served the regime unconditionally. Jewish members were pushed out of the supervisory board and made the zoo available as a venue for National Socialist propaganda shows.


During the Second World War, Berlin Zoo is almost completely destroyed; only 91 of over 4,000 animals survive the war. In the following years, various buildings such as the antelope house or the aquarium are reconstructed.

1970 – 1980

Zoologischer Garten Berlin started breeding rare or endangered animals like black rhinos and Przewalski’s horses.

1992 – 2002

The futuristic Hippo House and penguin habitat were built.


Zoo Berlin became world famous with the birth of polar bear cub Knut. By that time, Zoo Berlin had grown into the most species-rich zoo in the world.


Under the leadership of Zoo Director Dr Andreas Knieriem, Zoo Berlin enjoys great popularity. Every year millions of people from all over the world are amazed by our pandas, elephants, gorillas and more.


Berlin has pandas again! With a big ceremony and in the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and China's President Xi Jinping, the Pandas Jiao Qing and Meng Meng are solemnly welcomed.


Germany's first panda offspring, Pit and Paule, were born in summer 2019.

The Antelope House

A detailed exhibition about the history of Zoo Berlin can be found in the Antelope House.

Learn more

Our book tip

Clemens Maier-Wolthausen

Hauptstadt der Tiere
Die Geschichte des ältesten deutschen Zoos

ISBN: 978-3-96289-040-7
Published: September 2019

We are planning the construction of a new Ape House that will provide varied habitats that better resemble the homes of our gorillas.

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Today, 16. June
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Last admission: 17:00
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