Berlin, Germany is laden with things to explore and enjoy. Our visit to Berlin led us to so many wondrous places and the Zoo was the icing on the cake.
We love checking out the local zoos when we travel and are pretty tough to impress. The Berlin Zoo is at the top of our list with 20,000 animals, 1300 species and 82 acres (33 hectares) to explore! It is the most visited zoo in Europe.
What to do
You will find a good variety of animals to visit, places to explore, activities and interaction here. Our experience is that most modern zoos promote conservation, protection, and love for the animal kingdom. Zoo Berlin (as it is called in Germany) is no exception. You can get as involved as you want depending on the amount of time (and sometimes money) that you have. Zoo Berlin offers:
- Feedings & Shows
- Animal Highlights (special enclosures)
- Guided Sessions & Tours
- School Classes
- You can event host your own event here!
Zoo Berlin’s Highlights
- Panda Garden-You will be in awe of the two giant pandas enjoying the most beautiful panda enclosure in the world.
- Aquarium– Journey into the oceans and seas of the planet inside the aquarium. You will also enjoy their unique world of insects and reptiles here.
- Penguin World– Walk through the penguin’s Antarctica home and enjoy views of them swimming and diving.
- Eagles Canyon– Enter inside this exhibit for a walk through Northern woodland to admire the owls up close while vultures soar over your head on the sandy trail.
- World of Birds– Climb the treetop canopy trail in this modern birdhouse and enjoy the colorful bird populations of the world.
- Hippo House– Check out the hippos swimming underwater through the gigantic panoramic glass in their enclosure.
- Great Apes– Watch gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans climb and play.
There are so many interesting things going on at Zoo Berlin its difficult to pick favorites. As with most big zoos, they are consistently upgrading the animal’s enclosures in an effort to increase their quality of life. Since everyone has their own favorite animal, here are some items that caught our attention:
Decorative Enclosures- Zoo Berlin rebuilt itself after WWII using modern principles by recreating as much of the animal’s natural environment as possible for their displays. There were several terrific animal areas, but the Siberian Ibex’s flowery mountain of rocks really caught our eye.
Open Areas– Walking through the zoo, we were surprised to see big cats so close in an open area. Yes, they were surrounded by a moat; but it really felt like they were free to roam. We really enjoyed the openness of the animal’s zoo enclosures. (Big Cats are currently under renovations till summer 2020, but there are plenty more to see.)
Rare Glimpses– Giant Pandas are unfortunately a rarity, but Zoo Berlin has two! These adorable black and white bears are on breeding loan from China and are the only Giant Pandas in Germany. Panda Garden offers fantastic views of the lounging mates. This beautiful enclosure wasn’t available when we visited, but it will be our first stop on our next trip.
New Perspectives– Everyone has their favorite animals in the zoo. Our family tends to visit their favorites at The Bronx Zoo like they are friends. Traveling far from home you wonder if you will discover new favorites or see your old favorites in a different setting. We were really entertained to see our friend, the New York City pigeon, at Zoo Berlin. In New York they roam around freely, but in Germany they’re an interesting sight to behold alongside adored birds of flight in the aviary.
Natural Setting– Zoo Berlin has a wonderful open feeling. Not only do the animals have natural enclosures with room to roam, but you will also encounter other animals that roam freely around you.
Zoo Berlin offers some terrific options to view the animals from shows and feedings to special enclosures. Their layout is a simple maze that keeps all of the areas connected. You should be able to walk through the zoo in a half day; or longer if you spend some time with your favorites.
Some of their highlighted animals include: Asian Black Bear, Sloth Bear, Polar Bear, Giant Panda, Pygmy Hippopotamus, Great One-horned Rhinoceros, Arctic Wolf, African Penguin, California Sea Lion and so much more!!
- Research the zoo’s map and schedule for shows and feedings. It’s best to plan out your visit if there are animals you really want to enjoy.
- Arrive early to beat the crowds and catch the animals at the fresh start of their day. This is especially important during hot summer months when certain animals retreat into their dens to avoid the heat.
- Call ahead to see if the animals you want to visit will be present. They need care too and they might be out for a visit with the vet or a repair on their enclosure. Zoo Berlin is a big zoo and you are bound to see an animal or two missing so they can be properly maintained.
Interesting Facts About the Zoo
- The Berlin Zoo is Germany’s oldest zoological garden.
- It was the first zoo to open in Germany, the Zoologischer Garten Berlin, on August 1, 1844.
- The first animals of the zoo were donated by Frederick William IV, King of Prussia, from his menagerie on what is now known as Pfaueninsel (aka Peacock Island).
- The Aquarium opened in 1913.
- This summer (2019) the zoo celebrates its 175th birthday!
- It is home to the world’s largest variety of species
- It supports two thirds of all international endangered species
- Fatou, born in 1957, is the oldest living gorilla in captivity in the world. She resides at the zoo.
- The zoo was almost completely destroyed during WWII. It was first hit by Allied bombs in 1941; then in 1943 30% of the zoo population and the aquarium were gone from bombardments. The zoo was under constant artillery fire from the Red Army in the Spring of 1945. By the end of May, 1945, it was calculated that only 91 of the 3,715 animals survived.
- The Zoo Tower was one of the last remaining areas of Nazi German resistance.
- Post WWII the zoo was part of West Berlin.
- Zoo Berlin’s Website
- Open 365 days a year, 9:00am to close (closing times vary based on time of year)
- Adult 15,50 Euros, Zoo & Aquarium 21,00 Euros
- Children 8, 00 Euros, Zoo & Aquarium 10,50 Euros
- Families & Groups get cheaper rates
- Kinderwagon rentals are 5,00 Euros. These are great for exploring the zoo with your youngest family members.
- The Berlin Zoo is associated with:
Family Adventure Rating ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Cost– The family rate to enter the zoo and aquarium is 51,00 Euros. You can bring your own food and water to save money. Bring some extra money for incidentals like goat food at the petting zoo, ice cream (these vendors only take cash), and a kinderwagon if you have little kids. This is an inexpensive day for a family of five if you’re already in the area of Berlin.
Parking & Transportation– Parking in Berlin can be a challenge on public streets. Mass transportation is your best bet and is readily available. There is an option to pay for parking in a lot across from the zoo, but it is a more expensive option. The zoo has its own station in Berlin’s public transportation system. The U-Bahn, S-Bahn and buses are all linked here making it super easy to get to.
Location- Traveling in Europe is so much easier than traveling in the U.S. Their interconnected transportation systems make adventures accessible without cars. We would love to take a few weeks and backpack across Europe! (Lend me your suggestions; both of my kids are old enough for this kind of travel.) I could not have picked a better first experience to Europe than Berlin. It is one of many epicenters of history throughout Europe. Berliners have found a way to embrace their past, good and bad, and present it in a beautiful, insightful and educational way.
Day Trip or Overnight– This is a wonderful day trip for a local family. For the rest of us, this is an awesome vacation stay. Europe is full of reputable hostels, “air bnb’s” and hotels. Berlin is a popular destination so you want have any trouble finding accommodations.
Experience– We really enjoyed visiting Zoo Berlin. It was a welcome break from the serious and history rich area that we had been exploring. Learning about animals and conservation is a terrific way to spend family time and is universal. We were even able to learn some German reading the signs of animals we already recognized.
Combination– Berlin is an amazing history rich area and their public transportation system is top notch. It seemed there was something to see and explore at every turn during our visit. The city itself is a museum awaiting your discovery. Here are some links for some key points of interest: Brandenburg Gate, East Side Gallery, Checkpoint Charlie, The Reichstag Building, Things To Do with Kids, and so much more! We suggest walking to most adventures since the streets are lined with art and history. There is too much to discover to be listed in one post. During our visit we also enjoyed a Spring festival, the local food markets, and a special trip to Pfaueninsel!