Rich diversity, renovations, and record numbers
It’s official: Berlin’s zoos are in a class of their own! They are home to more species that any other zoo in the world – including Germany’s only pandas and probably the fluffiest polar bear cub ever born.
For the best part of a week, Berlin animal keepers were busy recording all of the city’s zoo animals – and the final count was a whopping 28,338 individuals (inventory date: 31 Dec. 2018). While the headcount was over fairly quickly for the giraffes, elephants, apes and bears, totting up all the birds, fish and insects was a decidedly more time-consuming task. In the case of small schooling fish such as the neon tetra, the exact number had to be estimated. With a final count of over 28,000 individual creatures, it’s clear that Berlin remains home to more species of animal than any other city in the world.
But for all three zoological facilities, quality is more important than quantity. “Our top priority is always the welfare of our animals,” explains Zoo and Tierpark Director Dr Andreas Knieriem. “Every visitor to the Zoo, Tierpark or Aquarium matters, as each ticket sold helps our modernisation projects to progress more quickly.” Many of the animal habitats are being successively renovated to ensure they meet modern animal keeping standards. However, renovation work on Zoo Berlin’s Predator House encountered unexpected challenges. The condition of the building turned out to be worse than expected, largely because of the heavy strain put on the concrete floors and bulky supports over the decades. Every day, the enclosures were exposed to hundreds of litres of water and the corrosive urine of big cats, so that the structural stability of the facility was compromised. This discovery necessitated complete refurbishment of the concrete, which delayed the construction schedule and caused the opening date to be postponed. The new-and-improved Predator House is now expected to open in summer 2020.
Another milestone was achieved last year: together, Zoo, Tierpark and Aquarium Berlin broke the five-million visitor mark for the very first time. This represents an increase of around 2.7 percent on the previous year.
In 2018, the Zoo and Aquarium were visited by more than 3.5 million Berliners and tourists from all over the world. The most popular animal attractions are the two giant pandas Meng Meng (5) and Jiao Qing (8), and baby black rhino Maisha, who was born last September. The zoo gained a further highlight in May 2018: the walk-through free-flight aviaries of Eagle Canyon, where visitors can experience unusually close encounters with vultures, eagles and owls.
Looking ahead for a moment to summer 2019: Zoo Berlin will celebrate its 175th anniversary this August with a very special visitors programme.
Meanwhile at the Tierpark, Hans the little spectacled bear and the playful Sumatran tiger quadruplets delighted around 1.5 million visitors in 2018. Numerous Berliners made good use of the Tierpark’s assortment of playgrounds during the hot summer, and the spectator stands at the Kiekemal woodland stage were packed out for the free-flight shows. The new Kiekemal season begins soon: from 26 March, Tierpark visitors can once again marvel at owls and other birds of prey as they swoop low over their heads. And very soon, the little polar bear cub will also be on view to visitors. She will probably venture outdoors for the first time with mother Tonja in mid-March.
To sum things up: there’s always plenty to see and do at Zoo, Tierpark and Aquarium Berlin!
2018 – a year in figures
Zoo & Aquarium Berlin
20,359 animals in total
1,256 different species
7,979 animals in total
656 different species