Zoo of Antwerp / Antwerp Zoo Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp Koningin Astridplein 26 Antwerp B2018 Belgium Belgium ,for those who might not know ,is a small country in Western Europe. Though small ,it is, was and will be big in some things. It's big in politics - has the seat of European Union, big in sports, especially cycling sport and motor sport and is also great at zoos . The Antwerp zoo ,first opened it's door on July 21st ,1843 , is the biggest tourist attraction of the city of Antwerp ,a city ,very old and very modern at thesame time ,although in all honesty pretty old-fasioned and with visible decay and neglection in certain areas ,and - without being bad-mouthed or racist - racial tensions in some areas like Borgerhout , of which I prefer not to mention the names they give these areas here. Not to my surprise. A busy day in summer can give up to 10,000 (10000) visitors in ode day at the zoo. People ,not only Flamish people , but also Walloons and people from abroad. The Antwerp zoo is internationally famous. It's one of the few green lungs (sorry about hte expression) in an ever growing and developping city with a HUGE port area and a terrible lot of industry ,under which dangerous industrial activities. In this city ,I believe ,some people ,and also others ,in a world in which people become ever more unknowing and stranged from the nature we one day from , people want a piece of nature. However, at first ,like most zoos, this zoo was started only for pride for the ,at the time of founding ,small city of Antwerp and to built up an animal collection. I have to point out a few major points in the zoo's history ,which are crucial to the understanding of the zoo as of today. I already mentioned the founding year 1843. Further more between 1843 and 1910 (the last date is uncertain) ,the zoo grow from a 1.5 hectare (a nectare is a square of 100 by 100 metres , about equal to 2.5 acres) to the current 10 hectares. Also ,in 1903 the Central station of Antwerp was built right next too the zoo. A reaction was the new entrance and the buildings next to the Queen Astrid square ,all still existing and at least on the outside unchanged untill today. Shortly afterwards the reptile house (opened first 1906) ,on top of the aquariuml (not opened untill 1910) were built , as well as the Hagenbeck area in the northwest corner in 1908 : a terrain above the ground level , with tehj big terrain exhibit , an area with a lot of rocks an,d a bridge ,animals in a pit with rock walls , a mountain (recently rebuilt) and with also all kinds of buildings like quarantaine, extra exhibits and cages , laboratory ,kitches ,garages etc under these. This area is so much high above the ground to hide the buildings aroudn the zoo (although ,noiw with the new office towers ,this helps less and less ,and the huge central station ever stays visible). This station did destroy the possibilities of enlargement for the zoo and up to at least 3 times almost became the zoo's death. Two of these 3 periods were the extremely sad world wars. In that era ,precision weapons weren't yet invented and a lot of bombs for the station hit the zoo. Two times it almost got destroyed, but two times it was saved. Things changed according to new scientific views after the second world war (Walter van de Bergh being the director of teh age). It wasn't untill the 1990's (after a new crisis in the 1970's and 1980's) that things really changed ,with a lot of new buildings from 1997 till today ,a master plan to guide teh zoo into the 21st century. Especially since 2001 and a lot in 2005 n,thigns changed (if demanded,I'll give a list of all the things changed from 1997 till now). I don't have much time anymore,I'll point out some main points of the zoo tomorrow. I'll give you guys a link to my Antwerp zoo photo album , so you guys get an impression what the antwerp zoo is like. http://cochin007.fotopic.net/c800322.html This collection of photos also has a map of antwerp zoo in it (two parts ,with and without things written on it.).