Vienna’s Baroque Zoo

Zoo

On a recent trip to Vienna, I was at the Schönbrunn Palace. After exploring the palace and its majestic grounds I found myself in front of the palace zoo. Generally I tend to give zoos a miss for better known historical and cultural sights, but this tiergarten (animal garden) is one of world’s oldest and is an architectural landmark, making it hard to resist.

Like the palace, the zoo is a Baroque spectacle. It was constructed in 1752 replacing a smaller private zoo on the orders of the Emperor. He also opened the zoo to the public, allowing them to enjoy strange and exotic animals from around the world. During the second World War, a considerable part of the zoo was destroyed in bombing raids, and a number of animals died. Since then, post reconstruction, it has developed into one of the most impressive zoos around.

The zoo is home to a great variety of animals, each housed in accordance to their home environment. They have them all – tigers, flamingos, polar bears, koalas and even giant pandas. Fu Long, the panda (seen in the photo below), is the show stealer; he is the first panda to be born in Europe since the 1980s. His enclave is the most crowded and he knows it. He refused to regale the crowds; the fifteen minutes I stood there begging him for a pose, he spent plonked on the floor with his back at me, chewing on a bunch of leaves.

Zoo2

The zoo is spread out over a large area and includes walking trails, play pens, cafes and restaurants. It is a great place for young families. You’ll find lots of children running about, but an equal number of fascinated adults around.

Best of Vienna Tips

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