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Top Ten Zoos of Europe

Zoos, or to give them their full title Zoological Parks or Zoological Gardens, are popular visitor centres where people are able to enjoy a family day out and see a great variety of animals from all over the world at close quarters. Modern day Zoos have mostly done away with the old-fashioned cages and enclosures and these have been replaced with open-air spaces made to resemble the animals natural habitat in the wild. Zoos have long been popular with the public and also make a great day out for children which doubles as an educational trip where they are able to learn about the animals of the world and see them close up. Today there are more than 1,000 major animal collections around the world with around 80% of these located in cities. The oldest Zoo in the world is the Tiergarten Schönbrunn in Vienna, Austria. The Tiergarten Schönbrunn was originally built in 1752 for the imperial family and opened to the public in 1765. Other Zoos from these times are Madrid Zoo, founded in 1775, the Jardins des Plantes in Paris – 1795 and Kazan Zoo in Russia founded in 1806. Later came Dublin Zoo opened in 1831, Australia’s Melbourne Zoo in 1860 and in the same year America’s first Zoo, Central Park Zoo, opened in New York. In 1931 Whipsnade Park, Bedforshie, England opened the first Safari Park, and here the public stayed within the safety of their cars as they drove through the open spaces occupied by the animals, which gave the animals greater freedom of movement.

Today’s Zoos hold animals for public enjoyment as a secondary purpose and concentrate primarily on the conservation of endangered species. With breeding programmes they have been able to increase the numbers of endangered animals of many species which would have been of great loss to the planet if their numbers had been allowed to dwindle either through climatic circumstances or to the cruel slaughter of illegal poachers.

Chester Zoo, Cheshire, England

Located at Upton-by-Chester in Cheshire, Chester Zoo is one of Europe’s leading Zoos and one of the U.K’s biggest Zoos at 111 acres. Opened in 1931 by George Mottershead with just a few animals displayed in pens. After the Second World War Mottershead expanded the Zoo, building the enclosures with recycled wartime materials. He wanted the zoo to exhibit the animals without the traditional iron bar cages and after being influenced by the ideas of Carl Hagenbeck and Heine Hediger, he took their ideas for moats and ditches to contain the animals instead of iron bars. The chimpanzee islands are still the centrepiece at Chester Zoo today. Chester Zoo holds a large and diverse collection

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Blijdorp Zoo in the city of Rotterdam

Blijdorp is one of the most beautiful zoos in Europe, with plenty to see and do. Blijdorp is home to giraffes, gorillas and polar bears and more, all of which have their own unique living quarters. One of the highlights is the Oceanium, where you can literally walk among the fish. Blijdorp offers various journeys of discovery, activities for all age groups, guided tours and Blijdorp Happenings. One such special Happening is the ‘Blijdorp by Night’ evening, which includes a guided tour that enables you to see the animals at dusk. The zoo also has various restaurants and snack kiosks. Blijdorp is also a really exciting place to celebrate your birthday!

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London Zoo

London Zoo is the world’s oldest scientific zoo. It was opened in London on 27 April 1828, and was originally intended to be used as a collection for scientific study. It was eventually opened to the public in 1847. Today it houses a collection of 755 species of animals, with 16,802 individuals, making it one of the largest collections in the United Kingdom.It is managed under the aegis of the Zoological Society of London (established in 1826),and is situated at the northern edge of Regent’s Park, on the boundary line between City of Westminster and Camden

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Innsbruck Alpine Zoo

A visit to the Alpine Zoo – at 750m the highest of its kind and the only themed wildlife sanctuary worldwide – is a truly unforgettable experience for children and grown-ups alike. More than 2,000 animals and 150 species can be viewed in their natural habitats, as the zoo’s enclosures, aviaries, aquariums and open-air terrariums are home to the most complete populations of animals native to the European Alpine regions. The Alpine Zoo is easily accessible by public transport – simply hop on the ‘W’ city bus leaving from Marktplatz, near the indoor market. Also the new Hungerburgbahn stops at Alpenzoo, offering a combined ticket that includes cable-car, entrance fee to the zoo and free parking at the Congress- and Citygarage.

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Copenhagen Zoo

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.

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Aalborg Zoo

Aalborg Zoo is one of Denmark’s biggest zoos and is located near the center of Aalborg. Every year, Aalborg Zoo is visited by around 375,000 guests. The zoo is 8 hectares big and keeps more than 1,200 animals belonging to 138 species. The zoo was opened in April 1935. Throughout the recent decades, Aalborg Zoo has put more emphasis on viability and conservation of nature, and today it plays a major role in various global projects on animal conservation, breeding, education, research and focus on fair trade. Aalborg Zoo participates in many international breeding programmes in order to preserve endangered animals. Aalborg Zoo got an environment certificate and the first zoological garden, and the overall purpose of the zoo is to preserve nature. Aalborg Zoo has made their mark in many ways with projects on conservation of nature and environment. For example, Aalborg Zoo supports the Payamino Indians’ efforts to preserve 60,000 hectares of endangered rainforest in Ecuador. Aalborg Zoo also manages the amusement park of Karolinelund that was bought by Aalborg Municipality in 2007. At the entrance, one can see the sculpture Det gode kup (“the good bargain”) from 1925, made by artist C.J. Bonnesen. The sculpture was donated to Aalborg Zoo from the Urban brewery.

Frankfurt Zoo

The Frankfurt Zoological Garden is the zoo of Frankfurt, Germany. The zoo was founded in 1858 and is the second oldest Zoo in Germany. It lies in the eastern part of the Innenstadt (inner city). Former director of the zoo was Bernhard Grzimek.Crocodiles, gorillas, lions and rhinos: you don`t have to travel to Africa to see these fascinating animals. A trip to Frankfurt Zoo is just as good. The zoo offers not only a green recreation area on your doorstep. Here you can discover more than 4,500 animals in over 400 species. Our animals dwell in surroundings as natural as possible, with many places to hide and live in species-specific social groups just they do in the wild

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Antwerp Zoo

Antwerp Zoo is a zoo in the centre of Antwerp, Belgium, located right next to the Antwerpen-Centraal railway station. It is the oldest animal park in the country, and one of the oldest in the world, established on 21 July 1843. Antwerp Zoo has played its role in preservation and breeding programmes for several endangered species like the okapi, the Przewalski horse, the Congo Peafowl, the bonobo, the golden-headed lion tamarin, the European otter, and others. They take part in the European Endangered Species Programme. Together with its sister park Planckendael, Antwerp Zoo houses over 6,000 animals of about 950 species. They get nearly 1.5 million visitors each year and have over a 100,000 supporting members

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Prague Zoo

Prague Zoo had predecessors in the form of various menageries. The Lion’s Court at the Prague Castle at the time of Rudolf II was probably the most famous, It did not only breed lions as heraldic animals (a lion, a symbol of strength and courage was adopted as an attribute of the Czech state), but also other unique species such as orangutans and allegedly now extinct Dodo. Later somewhat unprofessional attempts were made to establish zoological gardens in different places – in Stromovka in the Garden of Eden, in Letná, in Štvanice in Vrchlického orchards or in the Kinsky garden but they always failed. The first zoo in the Czech Republic was established in 1919 in Liberec thanks the German Science Association.

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Hagenbeck Zoo

The park is a true delight for lovers of botany. It is home to Germany’s most ancient redwoods and enormous deciduous trees as well as exotic groves and plants from all over the world. The landscaped grounds are designed with lawns, shrubs and flowering plants that recreate the particular natural landscapes of the five continents. Visitors to the heritage-protected park are welcome to visit throughout the year. A team of ten gardeners attend to some 25 hectares and more than six kilometres of paths, and the same people are responsible for designing and maintaining the animal enclosures.

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