See the animals at Berlin Zoo – but Bristol Zoo’s better

Our visit to Berlin zoo was not top of my agenda on our recent trip to Berlin. I had planned a cycle ride through the Tiergarten park to see the lovely Schloss Charlottenburg palace, but my daughter had other ideas.

She was keen to see the zoo, although it may have been because she’d heard that it was right opposite the biggest shopping district in Berlin, on Kurfurstendamm. Anyhow, the holiday was about something for everyone, so we hopped on the No 100 bus outside the Reichstag which took us to the door.

In the end we only stayed around an hour or so, although if we’d had younger children rather than teens, we would probably have been there longer. The weather was good and the animals were out sunning themselves, but there was something a little dowdy and down at heel about this well-known Berlin landmark. I think that I’ve been spoiled by the fantastic Bristol Zoo Gardens, on my doorstep which has invested heavily over the last 15 years in upgrading it’s animal enclosures.

I found Berlin zoo to be rather old fashioned with enclosures built of concrete and not a lot of effort put into the general surroundings. Although we saw most of the animals, I left feeling rather uninspired and sad by it all. My friend Wendy couldn’t wait to get out – having seen many of these animals in the wild, she didn’t like to see them enclosed, although I think the girls did enjoy it.

It reminded me of the way zoos were 20 years ago when just to see an elephant or a lion was a big thing. But things have moved on and these days, it’s about creating an imaginative environment to show off the animals. These just looked plain bored. Some of the information displays I saw were frankly shoddy and I’ve seen higher standards on the walls of my childrens’ classrooms. When we visited the loos I couldn’t believe that I also had to pay to use one of three cramped and shabby cubicals, even after paying the entrance fee.

If you have young children who are thrilled by the sight of a lion or a zebra, then they may enjoy it, but otherwise I’d save your money. But if you’re in Bristol with the family, then you’ll find the fabulous Bristol zoo is well worth a visit.

Berlin Zoo website
Bristol Zoo website

Check for the best hotel prices in Berlin and book here.

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See all my Berlin photos on Flickr



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  • Reply
    Friday photo - the queue for the view at the Reichstag in Berlin : Heather on her travels
    May 29, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    […] up and took the No 100 bus from the bus stop outside, through the Tiergarten and ended up at the Berlin Zoo instead, then did some shopping of […]

  • Reply
    Tropical Fish Tanks
    June 20, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Love your blog, it’s nice to see one with quality information for once. Keep up the good work! I have lots of pet related site if you are interested in a link exchange.

  • Reply
    Sarah firmin
    September 6, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Hmmm, you can see those monkeys don’t look happy can’t you?
    That’s the benefit of the UK – the zoos are usually nicer and the animal are happier 🙂

    Plenty of better things to do in Berlin than see sad animals!

    Love the photography on your blog btw!
    Sarah firmin´s last blog post ..A day as a zookeeper

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    September 7, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    You’re right Sarah, I wasn’t impressed with Berlin zoo, especially compared to Bristol Zoo Gardens

  • Reply
    September 24, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Nice post Heather.
    It is a sad fact that most zoos cannot finance themselves purely on revenue from admissions and the ones don’t get much other financial assistance tend to stay in the dark ages. Many zoos in the former Soviet countries are the best (or worst!) example of this.
    I agree with you about Bristol Zoo Gardens, they invested a lot of money in beautifying their animal environments recently. Another good zoo is Rotterdam Zoo. Two or three major new projects a year each one aimed at creating the best habitat as possible for the species and also aesthetically pleasing to the human visitors.
    Jason´s last blog post ..The smiling Buddha faces of Angkor

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    September 26, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    @ Jason
    I take your point about lack of money in former Soviet countries – but am I not right in saying that Berlin Zoo is situated in what was the former West Berlin?

    It does take imaginative leadership and a long term investment to develop these things which I believe Bristol Zoo must have.

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