About us – Our vision
Berlin, Zoologischer Garten station: Tourists laden with shopping bags push through the bustling crowds, surrounded by colourful advertisements and modern, high-rise hotels. Everywhere there is noise and motion as trains depart for destinations all over Germany.
But behind the large iron gate on Hardenbergplatz, adorned with elegant stone lions, is a slower-paced, more magical world, where lumbering rhinoceroses sink their lips into large portions of juicy grass, graceful giraffes stretch their long necks skywards, and the air is filled with the tropical calls of monkeys, apes and birds… Welcome to Zoo Berlin!
The most species-rich zoo worldwide
From A for anteater to Z for zebra: over 19,400 animals representing 1,400 species live in Berlin’s zoo and aquarium. Since summer 2017, the inhabitants include Meng Meng and Jiao Qing – the only pandas in Germany. Zoo Berlin houses threatened domestic animals as well as more exotic creatures like okapis and axolotls. Some of Zoo Berlin’s most famous inhabitants are Ivo the gorilla, Ede the hippopotamus, and Molly the common seal.
Germany’s oldest zoo blends tradition and modernity
Established in 1844, Zoo Berlin is the oldest zoo in Germany and is now one of Berlin’s best-known attractions. The 33-hectare zoo is not only extremely popular with locals, tourists from all over the world love it too. Around two thirds of the zoo and aquarium’s annual 3.3 million visitors are tourists. With historic buildings such as the Antelope House and the modern architecture of the Panda Garden and the World of Birds, Zoo Berlin offers an appealing blend of traditional and modern.
Experiencing diversity with all the senses
Modern zoos are so much more than just leisure facilities; they also play an increasingly important role in species conservation, research and education. Zoos are where many children have their first contact with the diverse animal kingdom. Meeting animals like tapirs, goats and penguins is an experience that leaves a lasting impression. Witnessing the magnificence and sheer size of an elephant in person, for example, cannot be emulated by seeing the animals in photographs or on film. Our Zoo School also offers children and adults alike a glimpse behind the scenes on exciting zoo tours.
Species conservation – an important task for the future
Zoos play a major part in efforts to protect animal species from extinction. Zoo Berlin not only contributes financially to species conservation projects around the world, it is also actively involved in international species protection programmes. Zoos have helped reintroduce species that were previously endangered or even extinct in the wild. Without the efforts of the world’s zoos, many species such as the Arabian oryx, the black-footed ferret, the red wolf, the ferruginous duck, the European bison and the Przewalski’s horse would probably no longer exist. While the protection of certain species regarded as more attractive may seem unfair, it is important to know that these animals often act as “umbrella species” whose protection indirectly benefits many lesser-known species in the ecological community.
In the early 20th century, the future also looked very bleak for one of Europe’s largest birds of prey – the bearded vulture. These vultures were already believed to have died out in their native Alpine homeland. With the help of Zoo Berlin and Tierpark Berlin, which hatched bearded vulture chicks, the birds were successfully reintroduced to their original habitat.
Working with scientists
The animal kingdom still contains many mysteries, and keepers and vets are working closely with scientists to shed light on those mysteries. Together, they hope to gain important insight into behavioural biology, for instance. Scientific research makes an important contribution to species conservation, as research findings from zoos can be used to benefit the zoo animals’ relatives in the wild. Berlin’s zoos are engaged in fruitful collaboration with the city’s universities and with the renowned Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Learning about nature
Education is an important tool for making the public aware of the need for species conservation measures. In our rapid-paced, digital modern society, there is a high risk that people will lose their connection to the natural world. Visitors to Zoo Berlin can learn about the many and various types of habitat around the globe and about the animals that live there. Commentated feeding sessions with pandas, orangutans, wolves and more provide fascinating insight into the animal kingdom, and visitors are encouraged to ask questions. Our new animal signs, with their modern design, provide interesting information about Berlin’s feathery, furry and scaly inhabitants – telling visitors all about how the animals have adapted to their environment, as well as how they reproduce and communicate.
Big plans for the future
In the future, a visit to Zoo Berlin will be even more exciting. Visitors will be immersed in a world of bright colours and fantastic stories as they journey to the native homelands of the zoo’s exotic inhabitants. Between now and 2035, around €60 million will be invested in modern, spacious and species-appropriate enclosures that will accurately reflect their occupants’ natural habitat. The barriers will be extremely unobtrusive, giving visitors an unforgettable experience of the animals. We hope that these measures will heighten visitors’ interest in the unique characteristics of different animals and encourage them to lend their support to conservation efforts.
In 2016, we renovated the World of Birds and the Lion Gate to make them more attractive, modern and appealing to visitors. Then, in summer 2017, we opened the most up-to-date panda habitat of any zoo around the world. And there’s plenty more to do: Eagle Rock is currently being redesigned, and construction work begins on the Predator House in autumn 2017.
Dive into an exciting new world
In the future, visitors will also be able to watch our rhinoceroses and tapirs underwater. An approx. 12,000 m² tropical swamp habitat with large panorama windows will offer unique insight into the lives of these large herbivores. Meanwhile, the reconstruction of the historic Elephant Pagoda in an elaborate Indian style will take visitors on a journey to the tropical home of the Indian rhinoceros.
Paradise for pachyderms
Following a brief stroll over the picturesque canal bridge, visitors will find themselves in a land where large grey mammals roam. An ample 23,000 m² habitat with lush greenery, a spacious bathing area, and a natural-looking waterfall will house a group of Asian elephants. In the winter, this sunny, tropical elephant house is sure to be just as popular with our visitors as it is with the elephants.