Munich Zoo (Tierpark Hellabrunn)

The award-winning Munich Zoo (Tierpark Hellabrunn) is among Germany's very best - see gallery below

Zoos used to be cold, somewhat cruel places where animals were caged and put on display for entertainment rather than education.
Munich Zoo (Tierpark) Hellabrunn was one of the world’s first zoos to buck that trend.
Munich’s zoo was founded in 1911 and was the world’s first 'geo-zoo', meaning it displayed its animals by continent.
Many of the 700 species aren’t caged, but live in enclosures separated from visitors by moats.

Fantastic fauna

polar-bears-munichA baby polar bear with mum at Munich Zoo. Pic: Joerg Koch/ Tierpark Hellabrunn

You can find all the usual suspects from lions and tigers to bears and banded mongoose.
But the zoo’s administrators are also rightly proud of its little-known species, some of which they have helped to save from extinction through breeding programs.
The Mongolian wild horse, Mesopotamian fallow deer and Alpine Ibex are among those species which Hellabrunn has helped back from the brink.
In earlier decades the zoo had perhaps less admirably also engaged in controversial "back-breeding" programs to recreate extinct animals (for example, "heck" cattle were bred to mimic the aurochs, a large, horned bovine which died out in Europe in the 1600s).

king-penguin-munich-zooKing penguins with a fledgling at Munich Zoo. Pic: Marc Mueller/ Tierpark Hellabrunn

The zoo is undergoing an extensive refurbishment that won’t be finished until 2020.
But don’t let that stop you, Hellabrunn is a must-visit for animal lovers.
Guided tours for groups are available in English and there is a pizzeria, restaurant and of course (this being Munich!) a beer garden.

Some Munich Zoo highlights:

The Touch Paddock and Kinderzoo – An area where kids can get up close and personal with goats, sheep and ponies.
The animals can be stroked and fed with low-calorie fibre bought from vending machines and kids can watch chicks hatch from their eggs.

The "Villa Dracula" – a large walk-through hall where bats and birds flap about unhindered.

Polarium – Crowds flock to see the Antarctic penguins and sea lions but the star attraction of this section is the new polar bear enclosure.

Elephant House – The century old Byzantine Elephant House was one of the first freestanding concrete domes in the world and has become the zoo’s most-recognisable symbol.

See below the photos for visiting details.

munich-zoo-apeA Silvery gibbon at the zoo. Pic: D Hierl/Tierpark Hellabrunn

munich-zoo-elephant-houseThe zoo's famous elephant house. Pic: Marc Mueller/ Tierpark Hellabrunn

panda-baby-munich-zooA baby panda at the zoo. Pic: Michael Thomas/ Tierpark Hellabrunn

brown-bear-munich-zooThe zoo's brown bear looking nonchalant. Pic: Marc Mueller/ Tierpark Hellabrunn

munich-zoo-tierpark-hellabrunnVisitors explore the zoo. Pic: Marc Mueller/ Tierpark Hellabrunn

Orang-Utans-Munich-ZooA baby orangutan with mum at Munich Zoo. Pic: Marc Mueller/ Tierpark Hellabrunn

Aquarium-Tierpark-HellabrunnThe zoo's aquarium has all sorts of interesting inhabitants. Pic: Marc Mueller/ Tierpark Hellabrunn

munich-zoo-siberian-tigerA rare Siberian tiger at the zoo. Pic: Marisa Segadelli/ Tierpark Hellabrunn

tierpark-hellabrunn-gibbonA silvery gibbon hangs about at teh zoo. Pic: D Hierl/ Tierpark Hellabrunn

Orang-Utan-Tierpark-HellabrunnBaby orangutans take shelter with their mum at the zoo. Pic: Marc Mueller/ Tierpark Hellabrunn

munich-zoo-elephantsThe zoo's elephant house. Pic: Tierpark Hellabrunn

munich-zoo-cafeA view across to the zoo's cafe. Pic: Marc Mueller/ Tierpark Hellabrunn

The details

Location Tierpark Strasse 30, Munich
Phone 089 62 5080
Open 9am to 6pm April to September, till 5pm October to March
Cost €15, children 4 to 14 €6 (children under 4 go free). Family tickets are also available, check the website for details.
Directions Take the U-Bahn line 3 to the station Thalkirchen (Tierpark). From there it’s a 3min walk, just follow the signs.

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