Tiergarten Schönbrunn: Oldest zoo in the world

Vienna is a city known for its stunning imperial architecture, but did you know it also hosts the oldest zoo in the world?

Quite possibly the cutest frog I've ever seen ©Maaike
Vienna Zoo: A Little History
Gazing at monkeys and petting goats seems mindless fun, and would almost make you forget zoos find their origin in an imperial past. The same goes for Tiergarten Schönbrunn (Vienna Zoo), which was founded in 1730 by Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and served as a menagerie – an aristocratic collection of animals from far and wide. His successor Emperor Joseph II continued this tradition and organised expeditions to the Americas and Africa in search for exotic animals.

At first, the animals were solely reserved for the Emperor's eyes: they were being kept in private palace gardens, away from the public eye. In 1779, the zoo was finally opened to the public. Despite its popularity, maintaining the zoo proved to be a difficult task: sadly, both bombing raids and a lack of food supplies during the First and Second World War caused many animals to die.

Jellyfish ©Maaike
Big birds ©Maaike
Oh, hello! ©Maaike
A Modern Zoo with a Baroque Touch
In recent years, however, much has been done to revive the park. Koalas and Giant Pandas (n'awww) were attracted and old buildings have been (and are currently being) restored. What you'll find now is a compact, green zoo with the occasional baroque building popping up every few hundred meters.

I personally loved the Affenhaus (Monkey House), which is one of the few buildings constructed in the 18th century that can still be found in its original state. The Emperor's Pavilion, where you can have a refreshing drink or enjoy a nice lunch, also conveys a good impression of the former menagerie.

Apart from historical buildings, you will also find yourself surrounded by typical Tyrolean plants and trees most of the time: Tiergarten Schönbrunn is a very green and tranquil zoo with two walking paths that lead you straight into the canopies of the trees in the Vienna Woods.

The Emperor's Pavillion ©Maaike
The Monkey House ©Maaike
The Monkey House II ©Maaike
Although the zoo can't compete with the Zoologischer Garten Berlin, London Zoo or other big zoos in Europe in terms of size and animal selection, the remnants of history and the abundance of green definitely make the zoo worth visiting. Plus, there is a petting zoo where you can cuddle goats. Who could say no to that?

Website: Vienna Zoo (English)
How to get there: Take metro U4 to station Hietzing and enter the zoo via Schönbrunn Park.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to write me a comment in your own language!