Vienna’s zoo features hundreds of different mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, fish and more, often housed in special themed indoor and outdoor enclosures.
Here’s my choice of the top attractions.
- See also: Zoo ticket and visitor information
Latest: a pair of Ural owls have a new home within a special enclosure embedded in the wooded hillside that leads up from the back of the main zoo area.
Ok, this is the big one.
Don’t go home without seeing Yang Yang and Yuan Yuan, the giant pandas, who have a lovely home close to the main zoo entrance.
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, inside can get very hot and close, so be careful if your lungs and circulation don’t agree with that kind of climate. And, if the weather’s chilly, 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 is a largish open water area with crocodiles, fish, and free-living birds and butterflies. Glass butterfly breeding containers typically feature 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, ant tubes and chambers, and similar.
A darkened area (depending on the time of day) lets you see bats and scorpions going about their nightly business. (Though, frankly, scorpions at night don’t exactly sprint around entertainingly.)
The African elephants have a generous 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.
Feeding time for the sea lions involves plenty of large sea mammals jumping about, employing various tricks to cadge extra fish, and ensuring a free shower for visitors daring (or foolish) enough to stand too close.
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 sharper than an extra-sharp pencil that’s just been sharpened?)
Outside of these main centers there are numerous other animals to see, including a modern giraffe house, the ORANG.erie Orang-Utan enclosure, zebra and antelope, lions, 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!