Vienna’s zoo features hundreds of different mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, fish and more, often houses in special themed enclosures.
Here’s an overview of some of the top attractions, while the Giant Pandas get their own article.
Opened in 2002, the rainforest house is a giant glassed enclosure reproducing the conditions in a — surprise, surprise — rainforest, complete with artificial thunderstorms. It’s a mix of enclosures and open space, letting the visitor wander around the floor and canopy of a tropical forest, with its free-living birds, bats and other animals.
Tip: It can get very hot and close inside, so be careful if your lungs and circulation don’t agree with that kind of climate.
Once inside, be sure to go up to the top level where there is a larger open space. You can normally get a close look at some flying foxes up there. They’re giant fruit bats with foxlike faces.
Another in a long line of refurbishments, the new, improved aquarium and terrarium (re)opened in 2000. There are three main sections.
The first is a large open water feature with crocodiles, fish and free-living birds and butterflies. There’s also a butterfly breeding station, with row upon row of chrysalises and freshly-popped butterflies experiencing their first (brief) taste of freedom.
The second section is the aquarium with the usual denizens of the sea on display. The highlight is a large 80,000 liter reef aquarium, replete with shoals of brightly-colored fish, anemones and corals. The bench opposite the reef makes an ideal spot for a snack while you watch the coral world go by.
The exit into the terrarium section is a 7.5m glass tunnel construction mimicking a flooded Amazon forest floor. Perhaps your only chance to see stingrays from below.
The terrarium and third section has snakes, frogs, lizards, scorpions, the odd spider, ants and a darkened area (depending on the time of day) where you can see bats and scorpions going about their nightly business.
The African elephants have a generous new enclosure (generous compared to other zoo elephants at least) and house. Kids love the cleaning and feeding routines, where the keepers put the females through their paces.
The house has had its share of problems. In 2005, a keeper was tragically killed by the young bull and a manipulated video claimed (completely falsely) to show a young elephant being maltreated by zoo staff.
Big cat house
Tigers, cheetahs and leopards occupy rooms and outdoor areas in the big cat house. In a reflection of the modernization of the zoo, the cheetahs now live in the areas previously reserved for visitors, and the visitors can watch the cheetahs from the safety of the old — small — big cat cages.
An extensive new house and enclosure now hosts an Indian rhinocerous pair, a gift from the Kingdom of Nepal.
The new polarium area features plenty of penguins and an extended pool for the sea lions. A zoo highlight is when the latter are fed, with plenty of large sea mammals jumping about and ensuring visitors daring (or foolish) enough to get too close get a free shower.
A steep walk up the back of the zoo takes you to a large farmhouse with various domestic animals on display. See this separate article.
Outside of these main centers there are numerous other animals to see, including giraffes, zebra and antelope, birds, a children’s zoo (where you can stroke the goats), an insect house, a koala house, polar bears, a monkey and ape house, a gibbon island, meerkats, reindeer, pony rides, camels and, of course, the giant pandas.
For zoo visitor information, see this article.