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…
Basic zoo information
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 became a rather rundown affair saddled with old buildings and an uninspiring reputation.
An extensive renovation and renewal program turned it into one of the world’s more renowned institutions – a paragon of modern zookeeping that combines entertainment with conservation and education. Over 2 million people tend to visit each year.
For opening hours, ticket advice, directions, facilities, and advice on how to get the most out of your visit, see these visitor 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 often (we did). Talking of which…
What to do with kids
It’s a zoo. So, pretty much everything suits kids. All the classics are there: 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.
You’ll be relieved to hear the zoo has one or two animals in it. All your usual favourites, as well as the bright jewel in the zoological crown: the Giant Panda.
See the animal highlights article for my 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).
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.
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.
Latest animal news
(The new sloth cub; press photo © Daniel Zupanc)
- September 2021: the Barbary macaques and Barbary sheep just moved into a lovely new €1.3 million enclosure filled with cliffs and trees. The two animals have shared space in the zoo for a while now
- August 2021: born in June but only now showing a (sleepy) face in public…the sloths Alberta and Einstein have a new cub. I have many questions about sloth parenting, but this is not the place
- July 2021: almost a year to the day since the last such event and we have another baby sea lion. Born on July 19th and already entertaining the public
- June 2021: not every animal highlight comes covered in fur or feathers. Take a tiny and innocuous-looking shrimp at home in the zoo’s aquarium and recently investigated by a marine biologist from the Haus des Meeres. It seemingly arrived as a stowaway and turns out to be a species previously unknown to science. Now it carries the name, Heteromysis schoenbrunnensis
- May 2021: a pair of twin white-nosed coatis arrived on May 22nd, the second set of offspring for parents Puppe and Fernando
- May 2021: apparently the baby penguins are in fine form at the moment. Eleven northern rockhopper penguin chicks appeared in April. The species is endangered and Vienna Zoo leads the European breeding programme
- May 2021: a visit to the Siberian tiger enclosure reveals a new addition. Not a cub, but a two-year-old male from Lisbon Zoo. The hope is that Pepe will hit it off with Ina (Vienna’s homegrown female), and the two will make an appropriate contribution to conservation efforts
- May 2021: you won’t find sweeping vistas of prairie grass at Schönbrunn zoo, but you will find an American bison or two. Including a young calf named Calamity Jane born in mid-April and currently strutting her stuff opposite the insect house
- April 2021: what’s not to like about a zebra foal? Mother Malawi gave birth to a miniature bundle of striped delight on April 10th. The new foal goes by the name of Sylvia
- February 2021: a pair of Ural owls have moved into a new enclosure in the woods that rise up at the rear of the zoo. Their offspring will contribute to the ongoing successful repopulation of the species in the wilds of Austria. The specially-designed netting and enclosure construction is almost invisible to the casual observer
- January 2021: the Squirrel monkeys are doing their best to keep the average animal age down in the zoo. The newest family addition arrived early January and three babies now provide juvenile entertainment in the enclosure (trivia: the German name translates as “skull monkey” – bit of a different vibe)
- January 2021: the Emperor Tamarin pair, Tamaya and Purple, enjoyed a late visit from the stork in 2020. Tamaya gave birth to triplets in early December. Unusually for the animal world, the father bears most of the responsibility for managing the babies
- November 2020: the Orang-Utan enclosure now has two new females. Surya moved in back in October and now Sari has joined from a zoo in Ireland. The new additions contribute to an improvement in the age structure of the group
- September 2020: another rare sight in European zoos – a baby koala bear. Mother Bunji likely gave birth back in April but the young koala spends its first few months hidden away in the pouch. So the only sign of a successful birth is a moving bump. Zoo staff hope to see the youngster peering out soon
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