Berlin Zoological Garden
The Berlin Zoological Garden (German: Zoologischer Garten Berlin) is the oldest and best known zoo in Germany. Opened in 1844 it covers 35 hectares (86.5 acres) and is located in Berlin's Tiergarten. With about 1,500 different species and almost 20,500 animals the zoo presents the most comprehensive collection of species in the world.
The zoo and its aquarium had more than 3 million visitors in 2013. It is considered to be the most visited zoo in Europe and one of the most popular worldwide. Regular animal feedings are among its most famous attractions. Globally known animals like Knut, the polar bear, and Bao Bao, the giant panda have contributed to the zoo's public image.
The zoo collaborates with many universities, research institutes, and other zoos around the world. It maintains and promotes European breeding programmes, helps safeguard several endangered species, and participates in several species reintroduction programs.
Opened on 1 August 1844, the Zoologischer Garten Berlin was the first zoo in Germany. The aquarium opened in 1913. The first animals were donated by Frederick William IV, King of Prussia, from the menagerie and pheasantry of the Tiergarten.
During World War II, the zoo area was completely destroyed and only 91 of 3,715 animals survived, including two lions, two hyenas, an Asian bull elephant, a hippo bull, ten hamadryas baboons, a chimpanzee, and a black stork. By the end of the war, the zoo was fortified with the Zoo flak tower, a huge flak tower that was one of the last remaining areas of German resistance against the Red Army, with its bunkers and anti-aircraft weapons defending against allied air forces. Following the zoo's destruction, it and the associated Aquarium was reconstructed on the most modern principles so as to display the animals in as close to their natural environment as feasible. The success achieved in breeding animals, including some rare species, demonstrates the efficacy of these new methods.
In 1938, the Berlin Zoo got rid of Jewish board members and forced Jewish shareholders to sell their stock at a loss, before re-selling the stock in an effort to "Aryanize" the institution. The zoo has now commissioned a historian to identify these past shareholders and track down their descendants, according to a report by AFP.
The Berlin Zoo is the most visited zoo in Europe, with about 3 million visitors per year from all over the world. It is open all year long and can easily be reached by public transportation. The Berlin Zoologischer Garten railway station (also simply known as Zoo) is one of Berlin's most important stations. Several modes of transport such as U-Bahn, S-Bahn and buses are interlinked here. Visitors can either enter the zoo through the exotically designed Elephant Gate beside the aquarium on Budapester Straße or through the Lion Gate on Hardenbergplatz.
The zoo maintains studbooks for black and Indian rhinoceroses and gaurs. The populations of rare deer and pigs are part of several captive breeding projects. Berlin Zoo supports conservationists in other countries (for instance, in Madagascar) and as a partner of the Stiftung Artenschutz (species protection foundation).
Most of the animals are housed in enclosures designed to recreate their natural habitat.
The zoo houses four types of great ape; orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos.
The carnivore house displays all big cats and many rare small predators, such as ring-tailed mongooses and narrow-striped mongooses from Madagascar. In the basement, visitors are invited to a view into the world of nocturnal animals.
The bird house presents a walk-through aviary and offers a broad variety of forms, including several regularly breeding species of hornbills and many parrots. Numerous big aviaries show waders, herons and many other species. The Berlin Zoo is one of the few zoos to exhibit tuatara and Luzon tarictic hornbills.
The Aquarium, which was built in 1913 as part of the Zoologischer Garten complex.
The polar bear Knut was born in captivity at the zoo on 5 December 2006. Rejected by his mother at birth, he was subsequently raised by zookeepers and became the center of a mass media phenomenon that spanned the globe, quickly spawning numerous toys, media specials, DVDs, and books. Because of this, the cub was largely responsible for a significant increase in revenue, estimated at about five million euros, at the Berlin Zoo in 2007. Zoo attendance figures for the year increased by an estimated 30 percent making it the most profitable year in its 165-year history. Knut died on 19 March 2011 after collapsing in his exhibit.
Bao Bao (born 1978) was the only giant panda in a German zoo and the eldest known giant panda in a zoo worldwide. Like many of his kind, he was on a permanent loan from China for breeding purposes. In spite of several artificial insemination experiments with a female named Yan Yan (who died in captivity in 2007), there were no offspring. Bao Bao died on 22 August 2012.
A woman was mauled by polar bears while swimming in the cage, she was rushed to the hospital.