Copenhagen Zoo / Københavns Zoo, is a zoological garden in Copenhagen, Denmark. Founded in 1859, it is one of the oldest zoos in Europe. It comprises 11 hectares (27 acres) and is located in the municipality of Frederiksberg, sandwiched between the parks of Frederiksberg Park and Søndermarken. With 1,161,388 visitors in 2008 it is the most visited zoo and 4th most visited attraction in Denmark. The zoo is noted for its new Elephant House designed by the world-famous British architect Sir Norman Foster. The zoo maintains and promotes a number of European breeding programmes and is active in the safeguarding several endangered species.
Copenhagen Zoo was founded by the ornithologist Niels Kjærbølling in 1859. He was given the summer garden of “Prinsess Vilhelmines Have” (The garden of Princess Vilhelmine) by the chief directorate of Copenhagen. The animals that the visitors could contemplate at the opening were eagles, chickens, ducks, owls, rabbits, a fox, a seal in a bathtub and a turtle in a bucket. In the early years the zoo focused on showing as many different types of animals as possible, but as animal welfare later became an issue, the number of different species has dropped in favour of more space to each animal. One of the most notable animals kept there was a male slow worm that lived there from 1892 to 1946 (for 54 years, which is a record among lizards).
During the last 25 years, Copenhagen Zoo has been undergoing a renovation project aimed at replacing cages with enclosures which recreate animals’ natural environments, giving a better lifestyle to the animals, and a more realistic experience to visitors. The Elephant House and 1.5-hectare (3.7-acre) Savanna are results of these efforts. The Savanna includes a Hippopotamus House where the hippos can be watched underwater. The zoo has preserved many of its historical buildings. The oldest building still in use, a stable for yaks, was erected in 1872, and now houses the camels. A Herbivore House built in 1875 still houses herbivores, namely tapirs. An owl tower from 1885 is today left as a memorial commemorating how zoo animals were once kept. Another characteristic building is the Zoo Tower from 1905, an observation tower built entirely out of wood. 43.5 metres (143 ft) high, it offers views of the surrounding parklands and city.