You might argue that the whole zoo is for young children. And you’d be right. But along with the animal highlights, I’ve picked out some particularly kid-friendly attractions…
The map of the zoo you pick up at the entrance includes a list of feeding times throughout the day.
They’re all interesting to watch, but I recommend the twice-daily sea lion feeding (ensure you get there early enough for a good view) . It’s quite a show with plenty of splashing.
There are several small play areas all over the zoo, plus a larger playground with climbing frames, tunnels and domestic animal enclosures. This central playground is also where you’ll find pony rides.
Look out, as well, for the fire salamander mini-climbing walls near the rainforest house.
The zoo continues up the hill, with trails leading through a wooded slope to the Tirolerhof, a farmhouse and enclosures with rare breeds, a restaurant and a lovely organic food shop.
The route up through the woods has some educational, themed trails (unfortunately, mostly labelled in German), with nice little displays, such as a wood ant nest.
One route also takes you along a raised walkway through the treetops. Climbing the hill is a good way to tire the kids out a little, if you need them sleepy (or grumpy). Though there is always…
The Zoo Train
During the warmer months, a zoo train runs between the Tirolerhof and the zoo’s central pavilion. A ticket cost €2 for adults and €1 for children at the time of writing.
Look out for the Kumpf bronze statues around the zoo, which kids seem to love (and which make great photo motifs).
Gottfried Kumpf is a famous Austrian artist whose works include statues of distinctive animal figures; the kind you might find in a lovely kids picture book.
His works for Schönbrunn include the frog prince and the three wise monkeys.
A booth between the hippos and big cats hires out little pull-along open-top wagons for a small fee (€2 when I visited) and picture ID as a deposit.
They’re a fun way to carry around little kids. But…if you want to go through the woods and up to the Tirolerhof, that’s quite a climb with a wagon in tow.
The big cat enclosure
Not just for the tigers, leopards and cheetahs. The building includes a display area presenting conservation projects, with simple games like “Find the Red Panda” and buttons to push to hear, for example, animal noises.
Food and drink
There are plenty of snack bars, cafes and restaurants dotted around the zoo, as well as drinks machines. If you want to give the kids something different, if not entirely healthy, try a langos – a potato snack the size of a giant fried frisbee.
Extra animal tips
Obviously all the kiddies’ favourites are there: elephants, giraffes, monkeys, lions, etc., but let me throw out a few extra tips for you:
- If your kids like the darker side of animal life, the indoor aquarium and terrarium has piranhas, jellyfish, giant spiders, scorpions and bats. The metres and metres of glass leaf-cutter ant tunnels are kind of neat, too
- If that’s not enough to scare them, there’s always the insect house with its alarmingly large stick insects and praying mantis. Not to mention giant locusts
- Be sure to go inside the new giraffe house, because there’s an upstairs where you can be at eye level with these long-legged giants
- If it’s winter and snowing, visit the reindeer – perfect for impressing the impressionable with some Santa-related stories
Oh, and don’t forget the panda. You do not want to be the visitor who took their children all the way to the zoo in Vienna and forgot to see the panda bear.