Zoos and wildlife parks: come and meet the animals

Attracting more than 40 million people a year, zoos and wildlife parks are popular places to visit, and for most of us they are our only opportunity to get close to wild animals such as elephants, lions, apes and reptiles.

Zoos and wildlife parks have a certain magical appeal. They give us the chance to see fascinating animals in the flesh – for which you would otherwise have to travel great distances. Experiencing animals in the wild may be exciting but it is not always easy, because they can be very timid or occasionally extremely dangerous. In a wildlife park or at the zoo, however, you can look at these creatures and get close to them without any fear – you can even stroke and feed some or at least watch them being fed. Thanks to monkey enclosures and petting farms, children are always in their element here. Ever wondered how giraffes sleep? And what about fish? Do komodo dragons breathe fire? Why do penguins have wings and what do bears do all winter? The zoo is the place to go for the answers to these questions. It's the zoos' homegrown stars – the enchanting baby animals – that always attract the most attention: mini elephants, cute snow leopard cubs, cuddly little polar bears, adorable baby monkeys or tiny clownfish. Some do the funniest things, others just look incredibly sweet as they play and frolic in their enclosures. For something a little bit different, try a trip to a terrarium – a haven of spiders, scorpions, snakes and reptiles. And who can resist the mysterious underwater worlds and dolphin displays? With zoos, wildlife parks, bird worlds, aquariums and butterfly houses to explore, the range of animal attractions is as diverse as nature itself. But Germany's animal attractions are more than just a great family day-out. They actively contribute to international breeding programmes and species conservation – and by visiting, you are supporting them in these initiatives.

Berlin Zoo is among the most visited sights in Germany's capital, welcoming around three million visitors every year. Opened in 1844 and covering 35 hectares in the west of the city, it is one of the world's oldest, largest and most bio-diverse zoos. read more »

A hugely popular attraction in the Bavarian Swabia region, Augsburg Zoo is located within easy reach of Augsburg city centre, beside the botanical gardens and on the northern fringes of the Siebentischwald woods. read more »

At the heart of Dresden, not far from the famous Church of Our Lady, lies one of Germany's oldest zoos. People from all over the world come to spend an enjoyable day in the company of its 3,000 or so animals, representing around 300 species. read more »

Rostock Zoo, the biggest zoo on Germany's Baltic coast, guarantees a fun day out for families at any time of year. The 56-hectare site within Barnstorf woodland park is home to more than 2,000 animals spanning some 250 different species. read more »

Dating back over 120 years and with a host of historical buildings, Leipzig Zoo is one of the oldest and most famous zoos in Germany but is also one of the most modern. Heidi, the cross-eyed opossum, brought it to the attention of the world. read more »

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. read more »

Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg is a 19-hectare park, a zoo and an all-weather cultural attraction rolled into one. People have been enjoying days out at this leafy oasis on the outskirts of Hamburg since 1907. read more »

Munich's Hellabrunn Zoo opened in 1911 in the Isar floodplains conservation area. With more than 19,000 animals in around 40 hectares of grounds, it is one of the biggest and most bio-diverse zoos in Germany and was the world's very first 'geo-zoo'. read more »

Visa fler