Berlin Zoo

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Berlin Zoological Garden
Zoologischer Garten Berlin
Logo Zoo Berlin.jpg
Berlin Elefantentor 09-2017.jpg
The Elephant Gate: one of two zoo entrances
Date opened1844 [1]
Location Berlin, Germany
Coordinates 52°30′30″N13°20′15″E / 52.50833°N 13.33750°E / 52.50833; 13.33750 Coordinates: 52°30′30″N13°20′15″E / 52.50833°N 13.33750°E / 52.50833; 13.33750
Land area35 hectares (86.5 acres) [1]
No. of animals20,219 (December 2017) [2]
No. of species1,373 (December 2017) [2]
Annual visitorsMore than 3.5 million (2017) [2]
Memberships EAZA, [3] WAZA [4]
DirectorAndreas Knieriem

The Berlin Zoological Garden (German: Zoologischer Garten Berlin) is the oldest surviving and best-known zoo in Germany. Opened in 1844, it covers 35 hectares (86.5 acres) and is located in Berlin's Tiergarten. With about 1,380 different species and over 20,200 animals, the zoo presents one of the most comprehensive collections of species in the world. [2] [5]


The zoo and its aquarium had more than 3.5 million visitors in 2017. [2] It is the most-visited zoo in Europe and one of the most popular worldwide. Regular animal feedings are among its most famous attractions. Globally known animals like Knut, the polar bear, and Bao Bao, the giant panda have contributed to the zoo's public image.

The zoo collaborates with many universities, research institutes, and other zoos around the world. It maintains and promotes European breeding programmes, helps safeguard several endangered species, and participates in several species reintroduction programs.


Share of the zoo, issued 1. December 1909 Actien-Verein des zoologischen Gartens 1909.JPG
Share of the zoo, issued 1. December 1909

Opened on 1 August 1844, the Zoologischer Garten Berlin was the second zoo in Germany after the short-lived "Thiergarten" in Hamburg-Horn. The aquarium opened in 1913. The first animals were donated by Frederick William IV, King of Prussia, from the menagerie at Pfaueninsel island and pheasantry of the Tiergarten. The nearby U-Bahn station was opened in 1882.

Third Reich

In 1938, the Berlin Zoo got rid of Jewish board members and forced Jewish shareholders to sell their stocks at a loss, before re-selling the stocks in an effort to "Aryanize" the institution. Starting in 1939, Jews were also prevented from visiting the zoo. [6] Zoo director Lutz Heck was named chief of the Oberste Naturschütz Behörde im Reichsforstamt (highest nature preservation agency in the state department of forestry) by his friend Hermann Göring in the summer of 1938 and in this capacity he was the senior responsible person for the entire nature management. [7]

World War II

During World War II, the zoo area was hit by Allied bombs for the first time on 8 September 1941. Most damage was done during the bombardments on 22 and 23 November 1943.

In less than 15 minutes, 30% of the zoo population was killed on the first day, and on the second day the aquarium building was completely destroyed by a direct hit. Of the eight elephants, only one survived, the bull Siam, and 2-year-old hippo bull Knautschke was saved from the gunfire in his animal house. Most damage was done during the Battle of Berlin: from 22 April 1945 onwards, the zoo was under constant artillery fire of the Red Army. Heavy fighting took place on the zoo area till 30 April, and safety measures forced the zoo keepers to kill some predators and other dangerous animals.

Next to the zoo stood the Zoo Tower, a huge flak tower that was one of the last remaining areas of Nazi German resistance against the Red Army, with its bunkers and anti-aircraft weapons defending against Allied air forces. At the entrance of the zoo, there was a small underground shelter for zoo visitors and keepers. During the battle, wounded German soldiers were taken care for here by female personnel and the wives of zookeepers. On 30 April, the zoo flak bunker surrendered.

A count on 31 May 1945 revealed only 91 of 3,715 animals had survived, including two lion cubs, two hyenas, Asian bull elephant Siam, hippo bull Knautschke, ten hamadryas baboons, a chimpanzee, and a black stork. After the battle, some animals had escaped, while some of the killed animals were subsequently eaten by Red Army soldiers.

Following the zoo's destruction, it and the associated aquarium was reconstructed on modern principles so as to display the animals in as close to their natural environment as feasible. The success in breeding animals, including some rare species, demonstrates the efficacy of these new methods. [7]

Postwar period

The zoo came to be located in West Berlin, hence a second zoo – Tierpark Berlin – was built in the East. [8] There was virtually no public attention paid to the zoo's Third Reich history until 2000, when Werner Cohn, whose father was a former shareholder, wrote to enquire about the fate of those shares. The zoo initially denied that Jewish shareholders were forced to sell their shares, but as a public scandal ensued, it ultimately acknowledged this. [9] It commissioned a historian to identify these past shareholders and track down their descendants, according to a report by AFP. [6]


View of Berlin Zoo from Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedaechtniskirche 05-13 view 07.jpg
View of Berlin Zoo from Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
GroupSpecies [5] Animals [5]
Mammals 1691,044
Birds 3192,092
Reptiles 69357
Amphibians 54639
Fish 5627,629
Invertebrates 3318,604
Total (2013)1,50420,365

The Berlin Zoo is the most visited zoo in Europe, with more than 3.3 million visitors per year from all over the world. [2] It is open all year long and can easily be reached by public transportation. The Berlin Zoologischer Garten railway station (also simply known as Zoo) is one of Berlin's most important stations. Several modes of transport such as U-Bahn, S-Bahn and buses are interlinked here. Visitors can either enter the zoo through the exotically designed Elephant Gate beside the aquarium on Budapester Straße or through the Lion Gate on Hardenbergplatz.

The zoo maintains studbooks for black and Indian rhinoceroses and gaurs. The populations of rare deer and pigs are part of several captive breeding projects. Berlin Zoo supports conservationists in other countries (for instance, in Madagascar) and as a partner of the Stiftung Artenschutz  [ de ], a species protection foundation.

Most of the animals are housed in enclosures designed to recreate their natural habitat.

The zoo houses four types of great ape: orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos.

The carnivore house displays all big cats and many rare small predators, such as ring-tailed mongooses and narrow-striped mongooses from Madagascar. In the basement, visitors are invited to a view into the world of nocturnal animals.

The bird house presents a walk-through aviary and offers a broad variety of forms, including several regularly breeding species of hornbills and many parrots. Numerous big aviaries show waders, herons and many other species. The Berlin Zoo is one of the few zoos to exhibit tuatara (in the aquarium) and Luzon tarictic hornbills.


The aquarium has one of the largest collections of aquatic life in Europe. Zoo Berlin Aquarium Fassade 3.jpg
The aquarium has one of the largest collections of aquatic life in Europe.

The aquarium was built in 1913 as part of the Zoologischer Garten complex. [10] In addition to fish and other aquatic life, it is home to most of the zoo's reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates.


Polar bear Knut was born in captivity at the zoo on 5 December 2006. He and his twin brother or sister were directly rejected by their mother on the day of birth. He was subsequently raised by zookeeper Thomas Dörflein and became the center of a mass media phenomenon that spanned the globe, quickly spawning numerous toys, media specials, DVDs, and books. Because of this, the cub was largely responsible for a significant increase in revenue, estimated at five million euros, at the Berlin Zoo in 2007. Zoo attendance figures for the year increased by an estimated 30%, making it the most profitable year in its 165-year history. [11] Knut died on 19 March 2011 after collapsing in his exhibit.

Bao Bao (1978–2012) was one of the first two giant pandas in Germany and became – for a time – the oldest known panda in zoos. He was together with the female panda Tjen Tjen (who died in 1984) given to West Germany by China in 1980. Between 1991 and 1993 Bao Bao was loaned to London Zoo. In 1995, back in his Berlin home, another female named Yan Yan was sent on loan from China in an attempt to mate Bao Bao. In spite of several artificial insemination experiments there were no offspring. Yan Yan died in 2007. In summer 2017, giant pandas returned to Berlin, when Jiao Quing and Meng Meng arrived on breeding loan from China. [12] In September 2019, Meng Meng gave birth to twin panda cubs. [13]

Fatou the female gorilla was born on 13 April 1957. She came to the zoo at an estimated age of two. In 1974 she gave birth to the first gorilla to be raised in Berlin, Dufte. [14] Since the death of Colo in January 2017, she is the oldest living gorilla in captivity of the world (now together with American gorilla Trudy).


In 2008, Claudia Hämmerling, a Green Party MP, accused the zoo director, Bernhard Blaszkiewitz (also the director of Tierpark Berlin), of selling hundred of animals for slaughter, in some cases to breeders in China for potency-boosting drugs. [15] The same year, Blaszkiewitz admitted to breaking the necks of several feral domestic housecat kittens found at the zoo. [16]

In 2009, a woman was mauled by polar bears after jumping into their exhibit. She was rushed to the hospital and survived. [17]

See also

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  1. 1 2 "Zoologischer Garten Berlin". Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Das aufregende Jahr 2017 in Zahlen – Inventur in Zoo, Tierpark und Aquarium Berlin" [The Exiting Year 2017 In Numbers – Stocktaking In Zoo, Aquarium And Tierpark]. Zoologischer Garten Berlin's website (in German). 2 March 2018. Archived from the original on 26 September 2019. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  3. "EAZA Member Zoos & Aquariums". European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  4. "Zoos and Aquariums of the World". WAZA. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  5. 1 2 3 "Zoo Berlin Tierstatistik 2013". (in German). Zoo Berlin. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  6. 1 2 "Berlin Zoo Comes to Terms With Nazi Past, Seeks Out Former Jewish Shareholders". Haaretz. 3 December 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  7. 1 2 Prenger, Kevin, War Zone Zoo, 2018
  8. Beautiful Berlin. Ellert und Richter. 1992. p. 40. ISBN   978-3-89234-295-3. as a result of division, Berlin has two planetariums, two philharmonic orchestras and concert halls, two Grand Hotels and two zoos. The Tierpark, not to be confused with the Tiergarten, in Friedrichsfelde [is the new one in East Berlin.]
  9. Berlin Zoo seeks Jewish members stripped of shares
  10. "A brief introduction to Berlin Zoo". Berlin Life. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  11. Boyes, Roger (13 December 2007). "Berlin Zoo culls creator of the cult of Knut". London: The Times. Retrieved 6 September 2010.
  12. The Local (20 October 2016). Berlin Zoo to have a pair of pandas by next summer. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  13. "Panda Meng Meng gives birth to twins in Berlin Zoo". DW.COM. 2 September 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  14. "Zoo Berlin - Herzlich willkommen im Zoo Berlin. - Senior citizens meet for gorilla's birthday". Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  15. "Berlin zoo accused of profiting from slaughter". . 28 March 2008.
  16. "Berlin Zoo chief threatened over kitten killings". Reuters. 29 March 2008.
  17. "Shocking pictures and video of woman mauled by polar bear at Berlin Zoo". 10 April 2009. Retrieved 20 September 2014.