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Tiergarten Schönbrunn A visit in the 80's

Discussion in 'Austria' started by Skyrian Horse, 1 Sep 2015.

  1. Skyrian Horse

    Skyrian Horse Member

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    On Boxing day of 1984 I visited Schonbrunn zoo along with my grandfather, my mother and my aunt. Being a 9 year old at the time can remember only a very few things from what we saw. Also my grandfather was the only one fluent in german so we had to rely on him for any information from the signs. Having visited the Schonbrunn palace first we had to walk to the zoo while the snow had blanketed everything. First thing i remember was a huge greenhouse that was used as a crocodile - turtle house. There were at least four species of crocodilians in it, with one being (true or false)gavials. The ponds were dotted with coins. There were some big tortoises most probably the Aldabra giants they keep today and finally some small aquarium fish tanks. Could it have been that the exquisite palm house, located just before the entrance, was pressed into service as crocodile house those days? I would appreciate if anyone could clarify that.
    Next we visited the big cat houses. These buildings still stand today were the cheetahs are. The were similar to Regents park's old lion house with traditional gloomy indoor/outdoor cages. I remember a pair of huge (siberian?) tigers literally breathing on us in the indoor row and a sign that said don't tease the animals.
    After that we would visit the ornate ape/monkey house. This being a snowy day with the typical quietness and crispness in the air and then entering the crammed monkey house, the smell and the cacophony is something to be imagined. There were at least 15 to 20 species of monkeys along with chimpanzees and orangutans all locked inside. I was amazed. Nowdays I realize that it was like a time capsule from the years of victorian zoo keeping and postage stamp collecting. Today the renovated monkey house holds no more than 7 species.
    We would then walk across the imperial pavilion to the old elephant house were a single specimen from both species was kept. This is were the pandas are kept nowdays.
    Next was the giraffe house. In the indoors of the house that is currently being renovated were three giraffes towering over our heads. In the next building was a single malayan tapir quietly chomping on apples and carrots.
    After that I can vaguely remember zebras, camels and ostriches all kept inside
    due to the weather conditions. Finally the last enclosure we visited was the old bear grotto, demolished 5 years ago to make way for the Franz Josef land of today. There a single syrian bear would stroll peacefully in the snow. I remember being disappointed for not seeing any polar bears that were at the time my favorite zoo animals. They have remained ever since!
    Any additions or corrections that will spark more memories are more than welcome!
     
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  2. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Well-Known Member

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    I don't know what the situation was in the 80s, but there is currently an aquarium just inside the entrance and part of that/nearby is a reptile collection that includes giant tortoises and crocodiles. This may be the same building as you saw in the 80s, rather than in the Palm House?
     
  3. Skyrian Horse

    Skyrian Horse Member

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    Hello zooboy28,
    The current reptile house/ aquarium was built in 2000 so it is definitely not the same building I visited in 1984. Since I wrote this essay I found that there was a previous reptile house in the same site with an extended crocodile hall. It was finished in 1959, so it was probably the 'greenhouse' I remember. I would love to see an old photo of this building.
     
  4. Skyrian Horse

    Skyrian Horse Member

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  5. Andrew Swales

    Andrew Swales Well-Known Member

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    From my collection - a toy model of maybe the same house from the same era.
    1304 - Copy.jpg
     
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  6. Dassie rat

    Dassie rat Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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  7. Skyrian Horse

    Skyrian Horse Member

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    Hello, Andrew,
    There is some similarity to them. This is a beautiful toy / model. Is it the same shown in Hamerton's web page? I am asking because Hamerton is my local zoo when in England.
     
  8. Andrew Swales

    Andrew Swales Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I am guilty of using the same picture, which was on file. In a collection running into the hundreds, I have a couple of this design - but all were hand-made, often to order, and are often slightly different; even if they were made to a general catalogued design. They were based on the animal houses and zoos of their day, as this was the reference for the craftsmen. Even the composite animals were often modeled on famous individual animals of the time. These were made in Austria and Germany, but other companies existed in Italy, Denmark, CZ, Belgium etc. In England the toy animals were originally made of lead and then later moulded plastic, but were still influenced by the zoos of the day (usually ZSL) and their famous animals such as Goldie the Golden Eagle, various Polar Bears, Brumas, Pipaluk etc. English zoo models were generally from the second half of the 20th century, and were crude by comparison, made of plywood and blown plastic. These were similar to those made in DK and DE in the same era, and were made in larger numbers; but are still quite scarce as they were flimsy and did not last well.
    The collection WILL (eventually) be brought out of storage and made accessible to our visitors, as it tells a fascinating story of childhood and zoo history, tinged with a dose of social politics across Europe. 'Problem' is that plans change and other projects leapfrog - If you don't have unlimited funds and/or manpower...