A day at Tiergarten Schoenbrunn, the world’s oldest zoo

Visiting a zoo was not on the agenda I had prepared for our trip to Vienna. Mostly because I had no idea there was a Vienna Zoo available to visit. I was even a bit skeptical when my friend who lives there suggested it as a way to spend an afternoon during the trip. Turns out that the Schoenbrunn Zoo (a/k/a Tiergarten Schönbrunn) is the oldest in the world, dating back to its founding as an imperial menagerie in 1752. We really enjoyed our visit.

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The zoo is not particularly large which is good news for visitors (and probably bad news for its residents). The core of the facility is a central pavilion with all the exhibitions radiating out from there.

Map of the Vienna Zoo core area. The layout dates back to the 1750s.
Map of the Vienna Zoo core area. The layout dates back to the 1750s.

Each of the little slices houses different animals and there is a larger collection of pavilions extending beyond this core area.

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It also has an impressive array of animals, from penguins to rhinos and flamingos to elephants. There are feeding sessions throughout the day at the various enclosures. Apparently visitors can get in on the feeding fun with some of the animals but I don’t really know how that works; we just wandered in and saw it happening at one point.

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I was very impressed by the variety of animals and had a lot of fun taking photos of them. Still, I cannot help but wonder about how well the animals deal with the very, very small enclosures they are housed in. I know that’s basically a problem with all zoos and maybe I just haven’t been to many others lately to compare with, but they seemed very cramped in this one.

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Of course, that didn’t stop me from taking a ton of photos or even suggesting here that the zoo is a great way to spend a half day when visiting Vienna so maybe I’m just a bit conflicted about the whole thing.

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We had fun during our visit and getting to see all the animals is great. A better way to spend your time in the area than visiting the castle in my opinion, though combining the two and making a full day out of it wouldn’t be the worst way to spend a day in town.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.