Vienna has plenty of rare sights, but perhaps none rarer than the Giant Pandas found in Schönbrunn Zoo.
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, there are only around 1860 of these bears left in the bamboo forests of China. A very few live outside China in zoos, with Vienna one of these exceptions.
- A female panda, Yang Yang, and a male panda, Yuan Yuan
- A lovely bear-friendly enclosure
- What can you say? Pandas come top of the cute scale
- Zoo opens daily. Adults pay €20 at the time of writing, though a Vienna Pass gets you in free. Tickets available online*
- See also: Schönbrunn Zoo | How to get to Schönbrunn
Where are the pandas?
The panda enclosure is very close to the zoo’s main entrance. After the ticket barrier, go straight ahead and look to your left. There’s a large outdoor area, so you can’t miss it.
Note that Yuan Yuan only arrived in April, 2019 so might still be getting used to his surroundings.
The Panda backstory
In 2003, the Chinese government gave “Yang Yang” and “Long Hui” to the Republic of Austria. Actually, “loaned” is a better word, with the zoo participating in the international panda breeding and research project.
Yang Yang has had several cubs, most recently twins in 2016. Like all her offspring, Fu Feng and Fu Ban are now in China. Astonishingly, Yang Yang is the first panda ever to successfully raise twins without outside help. The video above shows various clips from the cubs’ youth, from little balls of skin to just before they left for China in early December 2018.
Unfortunately, the father of all these cubs, Long Hui, died in December 2016. His replacement, male panda Yuan Yuan, emerged for public viewing at the end of May 2019.
The arrival of the original bears was a major event for the country and saw the outbreak of a veritable pandamania. When the panda enclosure opened to visitors for the first time, half of Vienna descended on the poor creatures.
The post office brought out special panda stamps, the Chancellor welcomed them in person, and they featured on TV and radio stations throughout the land.
On the initiative of one national radio station, the two bears were rechristened Sissi and Franzl. The names refer to Emperor Franz Joseph and his famous wife, Elisabeth.
Not that the pandas themselves seemed too bothered by the fuss. They were invariably found either sleeping or eating and viewed human proceedings with a gentle disdain.
If you do want to see the pandas, you don’t need to worry about long queues now. Unless you visit the zoo on a hot weekend or public holiday, you should have little trouble getting a good view of them (assuming they are active and the house is open). The exception is, of course, if Yang Yang has another cub. Because, let’s be honest, there is no magnet for zoo visitors quite like a baby panda.