Vienna’s zoo features hundreds of different mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, fish and more, often housed in special themed enclosures.
Here’s my choice of the top attractions.
- See also: Zoo ticket and visitor information
Latest: four cheetah cubs born to mother, Afra, are on the verge off starting their exploration of their wider enclosure. Mid- to late-August should see them out and about.
Ok, this is the big one.
Don’t go home without seeing Yang Yang and Yuan Yuan, the giant pandas.
Also…at the far side of the outdoor panda compound is another leafy enclosure that’s home to something almost as cute: the red pandas.
The rainforest house consists of a huge split-level glassed enclosure reproducing the conditions in a — surprise, surprise — rainforest, complete with artificial thunderstorms.
You wander around the floor and canopy of a tropical forest, with its free-living birds, bats and other animals. Pools and mini-enclosures dot the complex, providing homes for the likes of Asian small-clawed otters and vampire crabs (not what they sound like).
There’s also an actual bat cave. With actual bats. In a cave.
It all makes for a rather lovely experience. However, it can get very hot and close inside, so be careful if your lungs and circulation don’t agree with that kind of climate. And, if it’s cold out, your glasses and camera lenses fog up – use the hot air-blowing model lizards at each entrance to warm them up before going in.
The first section of the aquarium and terrarium features 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 has the aquarium tanks 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 undersea world go by.
The exit into the terrarium section takes you through a 7.5m glass tunnel construction mimicking a flooded Amazon forest floor. Perhaps your only chance to ever see stingrays from below.
The final section (terrarium) has snakes, frogs, lizards, 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) and house. Kids love the training routines, where the keepers put the elephants through their paces.
In summer, 2019, the female elephant, Numbi, gave birth to the first elephant baby born at Schönbrunn in about six years. That’s Kibali in the photo above.
Polar bear world
One of the newest attractions at the zoo is a giant tiered enclosure for the polar bears that includes a central multi-storey dome full of information and displays about the animals and the polar environment. With a bit of luck, you can watch the polar bears underwater.
The female, Nora, gave birth at the end of November, 2019, so there’s a growing cub to admire on the premises.
Big cat house
Tigers, cheetahs, and leopards occupy rooms and outdoor areas in the big cat house. In a reflection of the modernisation of the zoo, the cheetahs now live in the areas previously reserved for visitors, and the visitors watch the cheetahs from the safety of the old — tiny — big cat cages.
An extensive house and enclosure now hosts various Asiatic mammals, including an Indian rhinoceros pair (a gift from the Kingdom of Nepal).
The 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 a free shower for visitors daring (or foolish) enough to stand too close.
Tip: visitors love watching the keeper feed the sea lions, so get there early if you want a good spot.
Most of the information here is in German, but, hey, who doesn’t want to see a huge stick insect or a giant mantis?
A good place to take the kids. It keeps them busy as they search for the insect in the terrarium. Then watch them squirm when they do find it. Possibly educational. Possibly the stuff of nightmares.
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. Can I recommend you pop into the farm shop for a snack of dark bread and mountain cheese?
Outside of these main centers there are numerous other animals to see, including a modern giraffe house, zebra and antelope, lions, birds, a koala house, a monkey and ape house, a bird house, a gibbon island, meerkats, reindeer, pony rides, camels and, and, and…it’s a big zoo!