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.
I particularly recommend the sea lion feeding (ensure you get there early enough for a good view). It’s quite a show with plenty of splashing. The penguin feeding is always a treat, too.
Several small play areas dot the zoo, but a larger playground near the centre has climbing frames, tunnels, domestic animal enclosures, and other surprises. For example, an adjacent enclosure offers pony rides on most afternoons.
Look out, as well, for the fire salamander mini-climbing walls near the rainforest house.
The zoo continues up the hill at the far side to the main entrance, where a wooded slope leads you to the Tirolerhof.
This complex includes a farmhouse and enclosures with rare breeds, a restaurant, and a lovely organic food shop.
The path up through the woods has some educational, themed trails (mostly labelled in German though), with nice little bonus 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
Weather permitting, a zoo train runs between the Tirolerhof, the elephant house, and the zoo’s central pavilion. A ticket cost €2 for adults and €1 for children at the time of writing.
Kids seem to love the Kumpf bronze statues dotted around the zoo, which also 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 children’s picture book.
His contributions to Schönbrunn zoo include, for example, the frog prince and the three wise monkeys (pictured above).
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 ones. However, if you’re planning to go through the woods and up to the Tirolerhof, then that’s quite a climb with a wagon in tow.
(Note that the rental station may not be open during less popular parts of the year.)
The big cat enclosure
Not just for the tigers, leopards, and cheetahs. The big cat building includes a display area presenting conservation projects and featuring simple games that young kids might enjoy, like “Find the Red Panda.”
Also, it has buttons to press. And you can’t beat buttons to press.
Food and drink
Plenty of snack bars, cafes and restaurants pop up around the zoo.
If you want to give the kids something different, if not entirely healthy, try a langos – a fried potato snack the size and shape of a giant frisbee.
If you want something that will make you feel less guilty, then try the organic fare usually on sale in the Tirolerhof.
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 enjoy the darker side of animal life, the indoor aquarium and terrarium has piranhas, jellyfish, giant spiders, scorpions, snakes, crocodiles, 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, 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 don’t want to be the parent who took their children all the way to the zoo in Vienna and forgot to see the panda bears.