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Europe's 50 must see zoos

Discussion in 'Europe - General' started by lintworm, 10 May 2018.

  1. lintworm

    lintworm Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    There are thousands of zoological collections in Europe and not two are the same. The Zoochat forum might be the best place on the internet to grasp the insane diversity of zoos on the continent.
    Regularly topics are started here to ask for advice on which zoos to visit in a particular area. Partly triggered by all the discussions generated in the Zoochat cup by @CGSwans , I started thinking of creating an overview of what would be the 50 European zoos that you should have seen at least once and should form the backbone of any major European zoo trip.

    I personally picked 50 zoos from across the continent that are in a way unique and/or do a very good job in highlighting a particular character found across Europe. This thread shows the full diversity of European zoos and the most important styles find on the continent. Of the 50 zoos some are the usual suspects, which just can't be ignored in these lists. But I hope I will be able to surprise everybody with some of the picks. I do not believe in rankings saying that one zoo is objectively better than the other, because a lot depends on personal taste. So this thread is no ranking and the order of zoos on the list is alphabetically (first by country, then within country). I am also not claiming that the zoos on this thread are objectively better than those that are not on the list. On the contrary, some very fine zoos did not make the cut, as they were not special enough, whereas some of the picks would never show up in any ranking of the top xx zoos in Europe.

    Every zoo will be discussed in a small profile with some basic information and a few pictures that highlight this zoos specialities. All information is based on personal visits, discussions and photos from this and other zoo forums, zoo's own websites, Zootierliste and the latest edition of the International Zoo Yearbook. If you spot any mistakes feel free to point them out.

    I hope this thread will not only serve as a valuable future reference, but will also generate debate.

    The list:

    AUSTRIA

    1. Alpenzoo Innsbruck
    2. Tiergarten Schönbrunn Vienna

    BELGIUM

    3. Zoo Antwerp
    4. Pairi Daiza, Cambron-Casteau

    CZECH REPUBLIC

    5. Safari Park Dvůr Králové
    6. Zoo Ostrava
    7. Zoo Plzeň
    8. Zoo Prague

    DENMARK

    9. Odense Zoo

    FINLAND

    10. Korkeasaari Zoo Helsinki

    FRANCE

    11. Zoo Citadelle de Besancon
    12. Nausicaa, Boulogne-sur-Mer
    13. Bioparc de Doué-la-Fontaine
    14. le Parc des Félins, Nesles
    15. Réserve de la Haute-Touche, Obterre
    16. Ménagerie Jardin des Plantes Paris
    17. Zooparc de Beauval, Saint-Aignan

    GERMANY

    18. Zoologischer Garten Berlin
    19. Tierpark Friedrichsfelde Berlin
    20. Tierpark Chemnitz
    21. Zoologischer Garten Cologne
    22. Zoo Duisburg
    23. Zoo Frankfurt
    24. Tierfreigelände I des Nationalparks Bayerischer Wald, Grafenau
    25. Tierpark Hagenbeck, Hamburg
    26. Zoo Leipzig
    27. Zoologischer Garten Magdeburg
    28. Tiergarten Nuremberg
    29. Wilhelma Stuttgart
    30. Weltvogelpark Walsrode

    JERSEY

    31. Durrell Wildlife Conservancy Trust, Trinity

    NETHERLANDS

    32. Natura Artis Magistra, Amsterdam
    33. Apenheul, Apeldoorn
    34. Burgers' Zoo, Arnhem
    35. Diergaarde Blijdorp, Rotterdam

    POLAND

    36. Zoo Wrocław

    SPAIN

    37. Parque de la Naturaleza de Cabárceno, Obregon
    38. Loro Parque, Puerto de la Cruz Tenerife
    39. Bioparc Valencia
    40. L'Oceanogràfic Valencia

    SWEDEN

    41. Borås Djurpark
    42. Nordens Ark, Hunnebostrand

    SWITZERLAND

    43. Tierpark Dählhölzli, Bern
    44. Zoo Zürich

    UNITED KINGDOM

    45. Howletts Wild Animal Park, Bekesbourne
    46. Bristol Zoo
    47. Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens, Burford
    48. Chester Zoo
    49. Highland Wildlife Park, Kingussie
    50. WWT Slimbridge Wetlands Centre
     
    Last edited: 1 Aug 2018
  2. lintworm

    lintworm Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    Location:
    Switzerland
    Austria - Alpenzoo Innsbruck

    Founded: 1962
    Size: 4.1 hectares
    Species and subspecies (including domestics):

    Mammals 29
    Birds 52
    Reptiles & amphibians 18
    Fish 43

    The Alpenzoo in Innsbruck combines a well executed theme with a fitting location. The Alpenzoo only keeps animals that occur in the European Alps or have occurred there historically. The zoo is built on a steep slope and at 750 meters above sea level it is the highest elevation zoo in EAZA. The zoo is located in the Austrian Alps on the outskirts of Innsbruck and has some of the best views a European zoo can give. The mammal collection is relatively small with only 17 wild mammal species, but the real stars for zoo-enthusiasts are the birds and the fish. Apart from the obligatory Lammergeier and Golden eagle the zoo keeps specialities like European dipper, Eurasian wryneck, Black woodpecker and a whole range of European passerines. The aquarium holds most of the known fish species of the Alps and claims to be the largest coldwater aquarium in the world. Amphibians and reptiles are kept in a set of attractive terraria and paludaria. Due to the limited size and steep slope of the zoo, some of the mammal enclosures are on the small side, especially for the bears. The zoo however makes smart use of the slope in the many bird aviaries throughout the zoo, several of which are also accessible for visitors. There is no other zoo which keeps such a large collection of European fauna, including many species very rare in zoos. This in combination with many superb enclosures and the location make it a must visit.

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    @lintworm , Waldrapp, Scops owl, Hoopoe & Blue rock thrush aviary

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    @TeaLovingDave , View from the zoo

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    @TeaLovingDave , Aquarium

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    @lintworm Bearded vulture, Alpine marmot & Red-billed chough aviary

    Zoochat Gallery:
    Alpine Zoo Innsbruck | ZooChat

    www.alpenzoo.at

    Zoo map:
    https://www.alpenzoo.at/images/stories/pdf/Zooplan2013.pdf
     
    Last edited: 4 Jun 2018
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  3. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    This thread is going to be amazing.
     
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  4. PaleoMatt

    PaleoMatt Well-Known Member

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    This is so exciting.
     
  5. ShonenJake13

    ShonenJake13 Well-Known Member

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    The above profile already has convinced me to add Innsbruck to my list when I eventually do my planned tour of Austria and Switzerland!
     
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  6. FunkyGibbon

    FunkyGibbon Moderator Staff Member

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    Another instant classic from Lintworm's "I probably should have just published this" series.
     
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  7. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    ‘What Zoos Can Do, Done Well’
     
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  8. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    You should read my walkthrough of the collection :)

    Having met both Lintworm and Anthony Sheridan, I can wholeheartedly conclude that the two are nothing alike :p
     
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  9. TZDugong

    TZDugong Well-Known Member

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    I’m already eagerly anticipating the next post!
     
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  10. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    I'm reasonably confident the next two will be Vienna and Antwerp. After that it's less predictable.
     
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  11. FunkyGibbon

    FunkyGibbon Moderator Staff Member

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    Salzburg might make it?
     
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  12. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    A brilliant idea for a thread...bring it on!
     
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  13. lintworm

    lintworm Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    Contrary to the ungulates thread, this is not too far off in a way. I have seriously been thinking about writing a book, but it would have more the scope of the German "Abenteuer Zoo" book (in my case: a complete overview of EAZA zoos and all notable non EAZA members), than a second Sheridan. The main problem is however time and a second challenge would be to find co-authors for regions as Scandinavia, Spain & Italy, the UK and France.

    Cool, you should also add Natur & Tierpark Goldau, which is the Swiss equivalent of the Alpenzoo and if we are at it, also add Tierpark Herberstein in S Austria to the list, which (spoiler alert) won't be part of this thread.
     
  14. lintworm

    lintworm Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    Location:
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    Austria - Tiergarten Schönbrunn Vienna

    Founded: 1752
    Size: 17 hectares
    Species and subspecies (including domestics):

    Mammals 92
    Birds 86
    Reptiles & amphibians 108
    Fish 199


    The Tiergarten Schönbrunn in Vienna is generally recognized as the oldest zoo in the world. It is located in the palace gardens of the Schönbrunn palace and has thus been constructed in the same baroque style. Together with the rest of the gardens and the palace the zoo is a UNESCO world heritage site. The strength of this zoo is not that it has many historic buildings, but the way that these buildings have been renovated in a way that the original style is combined with modern husbandry. The heart of the zoo is the imperial breakfast pavilion, now a restaurant, around which the zoo is spread out. Historic buildings and cages have been largely renovated, the former elephant house is now home to Giant panda, the former Rhino house to Koala and the former Hippo house to Rats. The Primate house is still a primate house, but it has been completely renovated and the Orangutans have moved out to the Orangerie. The bird house now consists of two wonderfully constructed walkthrough parts instead of a row of cages. Not all parts of the zoo are this old. A wooded part houses Wolves, Lynx, native reptiles and amphibians. A historic Alpine farm has been relocated from the Alps to Vienna and now houses multiple endangered Alpine breeds. Also noteworthy are a Polarium, which looks old fashioned but maintains the most successful breeding colony of Rockhopper penguins in a zoo. The Aquarium-Terrarium only dates from 1959 but plays a big role in ex-situ breeding of many reptiles, amphibians and freshwater fish. There are many city zoos with heritage going back to the 18th and 19th century, but Tiergarten Schönbrunn has been the most successful in combining historical buildings with modern exhibitry. For species hunters there are a large number of rarities when it comes to birds and reptiles, though the mammal collection may leave them disappointed. This is however not a zoo that should be visited for the collection, but rather to how the collection is shown.

    [​IMG]
    @Baldur , current enclosure for Red & Giant panda

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    @lintworm , Inside the historical birdhouse

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    @lintworm Primate house

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    @lintworm , Polar bear enclosure

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    @Arizona Docent , Imperial breakfast pavillion

    Zoochat gallery:
    Tiergarten Schönbrunn | ZooChat

    www.zoovienna.at

    Zoo map:
    https://www.zoovienna.at/media/uploads/dokumente/lageplanfolder_web_032015_d.pdf
     
    Last edited: 4 Jun 2018
  15. TheWalrus

    TheWalrus Well-Known Member

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    I am impressed @lintworm ; keep up the good work!
     
  16. TZDugong

    TZDugong Well-Known Member

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    This is a question for anyone who has visited the excellent looking Sconnbrunn zoo. What would be considered the zoos premier exhibit? Judging from pictures I’ve seen of the zoo, it looks like there are many great exhibits, but none that truly stand out from the others.
     
  17. HOMIN96

    HOMIN96 Well-Known Member

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    Polar Bears
     
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  18. lintworm

    lintworm Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    There is nothing that stands out in an "American" way, but what stands out is the consistency of the whole zoo. The Polar bears are also nice, but until the proposed plans for a new aquarium are realized there won't be anything that stands out in such a way/
     
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  19. lintworm

    lintworm Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    Location:
    Switzerland
    Belgium - Zoo Antwerp

    Founded: 1843
    Size: 11 hectares
    Species and subspecies (including domestics):

    Mammals 69
    Birds 130
    Reptiles & amphibians 79
    Fish 254


    Located in the middle of Antwerp, in the shadow of the gigantic central station lies the archetypical European city zoo. In the eighties it was described as the best zoo of the low countries, a claim that is not valid anymore today, though it is still a major player in the European zoo world. Though severely limited in space this zoo combines a varied collection, a large number of historic houses, a strong horticultural department into a zoo with a unique atmosphere. Though it is debatable whether such a small zoo should keep multiple species of big cat, Elephant, Giraffe, Hippo, Cape buffalo, Spectacled bear, Chimpanzee, Gorilla, Okapi (and Rhino planned), it is clear that most is made from the available infrastructure. A big draw of Antwerp are the houses with the Egyptian temple, housing Elephants, Giraffes and Zebra, as the main eye catcher. But the historic aquarium and birdhouse, which have been thoughtfully renovated are also noteworthy. For a relatively small size, zoo Antwerp still boosts an interesting collection, even though the number of species on display has been dramatically reduced. The highlight is the only Eastern lowland gorilla outside of Africa, but Black-and-rufous elephant shrew and Viellot’s black weaver are also indications that rarities are not uncommon here. Due to the fact that DR Congo used to be a Belgian colony, the zoo still has a varied collection of Central African wildlife. Okapi and Congo peafowl are among the zoos most famous animals and Antwerp also keeps a large variety of Turaco species. Though Antwerp is not anymore one of the frontrunners in Europe, it’s atmosphere is unique in Europe and it still has the heritage and a collection to boast with.

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    @Tim May Egyptian Temple, home to Asian elephant, Giraffe and Hartmann's mountain zebra

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    @Hippo , Moorish Temple, the Okapi enclosures

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    @Hippo , General overview, with Central station in the background

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    @Hippo , Aquarium before the last renovation

    Zoochat gallery:
    ZOO Antwerpen | ZooChat

    www.zooantwerpen.be

    Zoo map:
    Plattegrond van ZOO Antwerpen
     
    Last edited: 4 Jun 2018
  20. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    This is developing into an excellent thread.

    Of the three zoos listed so far, regrettably, I have never visited the Alpen Zoo in Innsbruck but I certainly agree about including both Vienna (Schonbrunn) and Antwerp, two of my very favourite zoos.
    I agree; I wish that other city zoos, with classic old-fashioned, architecturally important, zoo buildings had been modernised as sensitively as Vienna.
    Back in 1980, Antwerp was the first zoo in continental Europe that I visited and I have returned many times since.

    Amongst other rarities, on my first few visits, I saw the female northern white rhinoceros "Chloe" and the only Sudanese buffalo I've ever seen. I also have fond memories of the (ex Edinburgh) New Guinea harpy eagle - especially as a zookeeper kindly took me into the aviary with it so I could get a photo without worrying about the bars...