The zoo in Cologne, which opened in 1860, is one of the oldest and largest in Germany. No matter what time of year or what the weather, it makes for a fantastic family day out in the UNESCO city of Cologne on the Rhine.
The 20 hectares of Cologne Zoo are home to over 10,000 animals, representing more than 700 species from all corners of the globe. The aquarium provides fascinating insights into underwater worlds from the Rhine to the Pacific. In the 70 tanks, which hold between 110 and 77,000 litres of water and are arranged geographically, you can see colourful fish and electric elephantnose fish, as well as lots of other sea-life – from starfish, seahorses and sea urchins to corals and anemones. For bird lovers, the 'owl monastery' is a must-see. The Jungle House runs a successful breeding programme with the zoo's primates, which include lowland gorillas, orang-utans and bonobos, as well as leaf-eating douc langurs. The insectarium is the place to meet some of the world's weirdest creatures, from delicate butterflies to poisonous spiders. In more than 30 terrariums, insects such as the stick insects and the 'walking leaves' show off their expert camouflage, and the majestic praying mantis perform their magnificent displays. Ants reveal a rare glimpse into the intricacies of colony life, while poisonous tarantulas and scorpions lie menacingly in wait for their prey. Bonus attraction: watching the graceful butterflies and other dainty winged insects inside the walk-through free-flight hall.
The Hippodom – a spacious, walk-through simulation of an African riverscape – is one of the zoo's main enclosures along with the huge Elephant Park and the Rainforest, a tropics house representing South East Asia. Here, you have the chance to discover hippos, Nile crocodiles, antelopes and other inhabitants of the African river plains. Watching the animals at feeding time is always an entertaining experience – whether it's the baboons putting on a culinary spectacle in the ape enclosure or the piranhas and meerkats hunting out the tastiest treats. You can also make this a 24-hour zoo adventure by camping overnight: tents for adults, camps for kids (aged 7+) and family pitches are available with prior booking (the zoo provides weather-proof tents for overnight guests). You can discover what the animals get up to around the clock as the zoo offers daytime tours, evening torchlight tours, a nocturnal walk through the rainforest enclosure and the chance to be a zookeeper for the day (prior booking required).