Zoo Berlin

The Zoo Berlin is Germany’s oldest zoological garden and home to the world’s largest variety of species. Almost 20,000 animals of around 1,400 species live in the 33-hectare zoo. They include elephants, giraffes, gorillas, and Germany’s only giant pandas: Meng Meng and Jiao Qing.

A peek into the penguin dome of the Berlin Zoo
A peek into the penguin dome of the Berlin Zoo

I wouldn’t usually visit any zoological garden unless with children, but during our stay at Das Stue Hotel, we were offered the chance to use the secret backdoor into the Tiergarten and didn’t want to waste the opportunity. I hadn’t been to the zoo before, so it felt like a good time.

If anything, the Zoo Berlin is quite the historical landmark. Not only does it have one of the most comprehensive collections of species in the world – it’s also been through many political stages since its inauguration in 1844. Although many parts of it have been renovated, you can still see traces of history in the architecture of the park.

To Zoo or not to Zoo

I have very mixed feelings about zoological gardens. After reading Life of Pi a couple of years ago, I was somehow convinced that an animal’s life in a zoo isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be. After a trip to the Berlin Zoo, I’m not sure about that anymore. Although it’s being re-constructed to make more room for the many animals it houses, it often made me feel claustrophobic. The monkeys’ cages were particularly tiny and frightening.

On the other hand, it’s quite astonishing to see a Panda Bear frolicking about her bambus in a Berlin park. I appreciate the chance to see these graceful beings without having to travel far and leave an enormous ecological footprint behind. That’s not to say that traveling isn’t an option for me (after all, one of my most cherished experiences was a safari in South Africa) or shouldn’t be an option for anyone, I’m just saying Zoos evoke quite the conflict when it comes to animals’ wellbeing.

Regardless of controversy, 2019 is going to be a great year for the zoo: the baby ice bear (which we didn’t get to see) is set to take its first walk of its life, and the Panda couple may expect their firstborn soon. On 1. August 2019, the Zoo Berlin is also celebrating its 175th birthday.

One of the famous Zoo Berlin panda bears from China
One of the famous Zoo Berlin panda bears from China

In the meantime, the Berlin zoo is currently working hard on the conversion of the predator house, which began in 2018. The building no longer corresponded to the needs of modern animal keeping. The narrow cages inside and in front of the house will disappear. Tiles and tiles give way to larger and more modern facilities with artificial landscapes. Once reopened, lions, Siberian tigers, leopards and jaguars will be seen there again.

A couple of years ago, Matthias created a very challenging and intimidating photo series of these cages for Finding Berlin, which you can view here. It’s still one of my favorite posts on the blog.

  • More information: My Nikon Days Website
  • Tickets: 15€
  • Date: Sat, March 09, 2019 – 10 AM – 5:30 PM
  • Address: Augsburger Str. 41, 10789 Berlin, Germany

More pictures of the Berlin Zoo