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.
As well as keeping the animals you would typically expect, Rostock Zoo focuses specifically on breeding and rearing animals from the Arctic and the northern seas. The polar bear enclosure at the heart of the zoo is one of the most popular attractions here. It's hard to know where to begin your visit: at the enclosures of elephants, cheetahs, big cats, hoofed animals, Kodiak bears, crocodiles, coatis or pelicans, in the rainforest pavilion, the seabird aviary, the wading bird meadow or the South American house. And at many places, there are also games and activities to try out right next to the animal enclosures. Tireless kids are well catered for by adventure playgrounds, the climbing wall, the arc and the petting zoo with its pygmy goats and llamas. The zoo is also dotted with various discovery stations, giving little zoologists the chance to find out all about the animals: they get to climb like an ape, balance on one leg for as long as a flamingo or hop like a kangaroo. The zoo also boasts a wonderful selection of trees and copses, which bear witness to its origins as a dendrological garden. These include a 125-year-old giant redwood, an avenue of oaks, a rhododendron grove and a dahlia section.
Nowhere else in Europe is quite like DARWINEUM, the innovative natural history discovery centre at Rostock Zoo. Its exhibition zones, which are arranged chronologically, explore the evolution from the Big Bang to the modern human. These include an ape house, a rotunda-styled interactive exhibition with a jellyfish aquarium, and extensive outdoor enclosures. Also popular with families is the huge seabird aviary, which you can walk through and see Inca terns, black-winged stilts and other wading birds.