A fine treat for young and old. One of the world’s most popular zoos lives in the grounds of Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace. Here’s what you need to know…
(The marvelous meerkats)
Tiergarten Schönbrunn, to give it its proper name, is the world’s oldest working public zoo and dates back to the mid-18th century.
A few decade’s ago, the zoo felt a little rundown…saddled with old buildings and an uninspiring reputation. Not anymore.
An extensive renovation and renewal program turned it into one of the world’s more renowned institutions: an award-winning modern zoo institution that combines entertainment with conservation and education. Hundreds of thousands of people visit each year.
For ticket advice, directions, and suggestions on how to get the most out of your visit, see these visitor & ticket tips.
Incidentally, the zoo is one of the few tourist attractions where you get to meet a lot of locals. Parents of young kids, in particular, often take out an annual pass and visit regularly (we did). Talking of which…
What to do with kids
(The fire salamander climbing wall)
It’s a zoo. So, pretty much everything suits kids. You find all the classics inside: elephants, giraffes, lions, etc.
For a few extra ideas on how best to keep the children entertained, fed, watered, scared or tired (delete as appropriate), see these zoo tips for parents.
(The zoo has a large elephant enclosure)
You’ll be relieved to hear the zoo has one or two animals in it. All your usual favourites, as well as the bright gemstone in the zoological crown: the Giant Panda.
See the animal highlights article for an overview of the best enclosures and beasties to see.
P.S. If you like animals, you should also take a look at the Haus des Meeres (a large aquarium and vivarium located in an old WWII flak tower).
(Home to people and livestock)
Part of the zoo is turned over to an authentic Tyrolean farmhouse, now used for breeding rare domestic animals and feeding not-so-rare visitors with organic delights and traditional Austrian meals. Discover more here.
(The zoo’s effective founder)
Back in 1752, the city had fewer smartphones and not a lot of Netflix. But it already had a zoo in Schönbrunn, for which we can thank Emperor Franz I Stephan.
If you’d like to learn a little more about Vienna zoo’s origins and its current standing in the zoological world, take a look at the history of Tiergarten Schönbrunn.
Recent zoo news
(Not the poster for a horror film, but the small paw of a koala cub poking out of the pouch. Press photo © Tiergarten Schönbrunn)
- January 2023: two European premieres for the aquarium team. It’s the first time a zoo in Europe has successfully bred the jellyfish Pelagia panopyra and comb jelly Bolinopsis mikado in captivity. Both are bioluminescent
- September 2022: slowly but surely we’re getting sightings of a koala cub when a clawed paw pops out of the mother’s pouch
- September 2022: the zoo’s 6,000 m² rhino park now has an additional water feature: the rhinos can wallow in serene contemplation in a new pond area
- September 2022: the king penguin chick born in summer has decided to extend its horizons beyond the feet of its parents. You can now view the young bird as it explores the Polarium area
- September 2022: not to be outdone by the lions (see next entry), the cheetahs have had their enclosure upgraded too with, for example, artificial clay islands simulating a dry riverbed
- August 2022: Schönbrunn’s lions now have a refurbished enclosure to enjoy. The area has more of a raised rocky landscape to it, with more space for the big cats to contemplate their kingdom and come up with new insults about hyaenas
- August 2022: you have to wait a few months until you can watch him diving after fish at the feeding show, but a male South American sea lion pup was born on July 15th.
- July 2022: continuing a three-year win sequence, the white-nosed coatis have added two young ones to their community. They appeared in May, but spent the first few weeks clinging to the nest and refusing to come out until Boris Johnson resigned as British PM (possibly).
- June 2022: a rare event to warm the heart…mother Sari gave birth to the first baby orangutan at Schönbrunn in almost 20 years.
- June 2022: the zoo’s population of Burchell’s zebras is now +1 thanks to the birth earlier this month of a foal.
- June 2022: the zoo has its first arctic wolf cubs in seven years: a litter of four. Find the wolves on the hill toward the rear of the zoo.
(Young squirrel monkey born in 2022; press photo © Daniel Zupanc)
- June 2022: opening of a new petting zoo with goats, sheep and rabbits (all of which can withdraw to areas inaccessible to visitors if they wish).
- June 2022: six fresh-out-of-the-egg Northern rockhopper penguin chicks each currently consume around 20 small fish a day, which is a lot of Omega 3 for something so small.
- June 2022: congratulate a pair of capybaras on their first set of offspring: four young are already out and about in the zoo’s South America section.
- May 2022: turns out many important animals live outside the enclosures. A survey by the Natural History Museum’s Sylvia Wanzenböck reveals that 86 different species of wild bee live on the zoo’s premises.
- May 2022: the last male black-billed amazon parrot remaining in a European zoo just moved into Schönbrunn, with the hope of a successful partnership (if you know what I mean) with one of the last female zoo birds of its kind. This Jamaican species is highly endangered in its native habitat.
- April 2022: the birth of two young mhorr gazelle is excellent news, since this species is particularly endangered in the wild.
- April 2022: few sights generate more oohs and ahhs than a baby ring-tailed lemur and one popped into this world in early April.
- April 2022: the annual inventory reveals a total of 667 different species within the zoo and 7,780 individuals (I’m unsure if that includes all the leaf cutter ants).
- January 2022: a rare event to lighten our hearts on cold January days. The 23rd saw the birth of a baby giraffe to mother Fleur (her first) and father Obi. This is the first new calf at Schönbrunn in around ten years.
- January 2022: the squirrel monkeys have done excellent work in the cause of species conservation. Various youngsters made an appearance in the past few weeks, though none are yet quite ready to leave the furry embrace of their mothers.
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