Berlin Zoo, or Zoologischer Garten in German, covers 84 acres (34 hectares) in the impressive Tiergarten park in the city center. The zoo opened in 1844 and was almost completely decimated in World War II. Now one of Europe's great zoological gardens, it’s home to nearly 18,000 animals from 1,500 species. It's attracted its fair share of celebrity too. It was here the polar bear Knut became an international star a few years ago, idolized through merchandise and TV appearances, before sadly passing away in 2011.
When you enter the zoo, get your camera ready to capture one of the most photographed structures in Berlin: the Elephant Gate, one of two entrances at the zoo. This pagoda-style arch sets the tone for the zoo’s elegant layout and architecture. The animals are housed in areas built to resemble their natural habitat, including the African savannah and Australian outback.
Giant pandas, penguins, elephants, lions, meerkats, wolves and hippos are among the animals you’ll see. There’s also a walk-through aviary. Don't miss the symbolic animal of Berlin: the brown bear. You can watch the bears, and nearly all the other animals, at one of the regular feeding times. Check the website for details. Children and their parents can help feed the goats, geese and donkeys at the petting zoo.
Pick up a zoo map (available in English), at an additional cost, which lists useful information about the zoo’s inhabitants. When it's time for a rest stop, the zoo's main restaurant serves traditional German cuisine, as well as international dishes.
Next door is the Berlin Aquarium, housed in an opulent early 1900s mansion. It has 250 tanks showcasing tropical and native fish, crocodiles, sharks and insects.
The zoo is located in the southern section of the Tiergarten and is easy to get to by public transport. It is open every day, but hours vary according to season.