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. Over two million people visited in 2022, for example.
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).
(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).
What to do with kids
(The fire salamander climbing wall)
It’s a zoo. So, pretty much everything within 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’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
(A young two-toed sloth; press photo © Daniel Zupanc)
- November 2023: a premiere as the year nears its end. The zoo has become the first in the world to breed a Jacarerana (Crocodilurus amazonicus) in captivity. Not much is known about this Amazon-dwelling lizard, so the breeding success marks a step forward in our understanding of the animal’s biology
- October 2023: the 13th sloth to be born at Schönbrunn has now emerged from the protection of its mother’s fur to reveal itself to visitors
- October 2023: for the first time since the zoo started keeping King penguins in 1976, two chicks have slipped out of an egg in the same season (not the same egg, of course). Born earlier in the summer and now in that plump, grey and fluffy stage we all know and love
- August 2023: the spectacled bears are back in their refurbished and reopened 1400m2 enclosure. This time, though, they will be sharing it with the nasua coatis
- August 2023: three bats have managed the trick of being born upwards. See the new additions to the population of large flying foxes on the upper floor of the rainforest house
(A flying fox and young; press photo © Daniel Zupanc)
- July 2023: and not to be outdone by the land creatures, the sea lions have been busy and a female pup now graces the waters of Schönbrunn
- July 2023: you wait 20 years for the birth of an orang utan and then two come along at once. After 2022’s success, the zoo’s ape group has now added a baby female to the roster
- June 2023: the maternity ward at the black-tailed prairie dog enclosure has been in overdrive with six pups born. They’re now old enough to leave the safety of the burrow and
drive their parents crazyexplore their surroundings
- June 2023: a new couple just moved into the neighbourhood. Two young bearded vultures have joined the Northern bald ibis in their walk-through bird enclosure
- June 2023: Schönbrunn has gained a particular reputation for care and breeding of the Southern rockhopper. Ten young ones of this vulnerable penguin species currently attend the “Kindergarten” section of the Polarium area
(A young Southern Rockhopper penguin; press photo © Daniel Zupanc)
- April 2023: the zoo announced the recent arrival (via egg) of three Dalamatian pelican chicks. The adults are true giants of the freshwater bird world; their wingspan can exceed 3m. Such breeding successes are important, given the species is classified as “near threatened”
- March 2023: apart from having one of the better names in the animal kingdom, the Mission golden-eyed tree frog seems no slouch when it comes to breeding. The Schönbrunn frogs have had a batch of froglets. And when I say batch, I mean 520…
- February 2023: apparently, the female round-eared elephant shrew can be rather picky when it comes to choosing a mate (and rightly so). All the more pleasure then to report breeding success: twins were born early in the month in the Desert House
- 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
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