This was Germany‘s first zoo, its inauguration on August 1st, 1844 was made possible by the King of Prussia at the time, Frederick William IV. His animal donations from his own menagerie were the catalyst for the future zoo that would one day come to hold over 1,000 species. There’s also an aquarium that’s part of the zoo, but it was only opened in 1913. The zoo operated successfully for many years, but, like much of Berlin as the Nazi regime grew in Germany, many aspects began to change. Jewish stakeholders and board members were forcibly removed from their positions in a move to ‘Aryanize’ every aspect of Germany. During the war, the zoo was largely dismantled by Allied bombings and only a fraction of the animals remained intact: a mere 91 of more than 3,000 animals survived the devastation of WWII.
Nevertheless, in accordance with the triumphant and tenacious spirit of Berlin, the zoo was able to build something better out of its own tragedy. It used the destruction the war left to rebuild a zoo that would be even larger and more modern than before. Innovation was born out of devastation. The zoo that emerged from the chaos is vastly more progressive and mirrors the real habitats of the animals. In this way, it’s surpassed the boundaries of a traditional zoo and became a complete experience.
Some of the most notable animals to ever call the Berlin Zoo their home are: Knut, the polar bear that developed an endearing affinity for its zookeepers and Bao Bao, a sizable panda and the only one of its kind in Germany. As the most visited zoo in Europe, the Berlin Zoo has an impressive array of animals, from its aviary house, carnivore house, and with its population of rare breeds of animals.
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