A Must-See in Vienna: The Zoo

March 28, 2019

With a mere 30 hours in Vienna, there was a lot on our to-do list when my friend and I stepped off of the bus on Saturday morning. But there was one thing that I knew was highest on mine: visiting the zoo. I know the zoo may seem like an odd choice when one has such little time in a city with so much history, but anyone who knows me knows that I love a good zoo. And, as the Tiergarten Schönbrunn (as it is formally named) is the oldest zoo in the world, in my mind it was basically another historical site.

 

So, on Sunday morning I left my friend to her grand tour of Schönbrunn Palace (arguably a more culturally rich and adult thing to do), and I walked through the gardens towards the zoo grounds. I was definitely hesitant at first with the price tag (spending 20 euros to get in seemed a little excessive) but, let me tell you, it was worth it in the end.

 

The area of the zoo was quite large; the two hours that my friend and I had allotted to see our respective sites was not enough to see the entire thing. But there were some highlights among the parts I was able to visit that made the trip totally worth it.

 

Photo Credit: Sarah Morris

 

One of the first things that I saw that immediately impressed me was the koalas. Koalas are one of those animals you don’t see in too many zoos in the United States, so being able to see them in their cuddly, dopey state definitely won me over.

 

Another personal favorite, on the opposite end of the size spectrum, was the hippos. (Again, an animal not widely seen in many American zoos.) The sheer size of these hippos was enough to leave me in complete awe. You can’t really appreciate the size and power of these animals until you see one emerge from lurking under the darkness of the water. In seeing their size, you also realize just why they are one of the most dangerous animals in the world, and it made me appreciate the efforts that go into taking care of these massive animals even more. Other highlights in terms of animals were the giant pandas, rhinos and capybaras.

 

Photo Credit: Sarah Morris

 

But it wasn’t just the animals that made the Vienna Zoo stick out so much in my mind: The zoo’s architecture and layout also helped to make it an enjoyable experience overall. In the middle of the zoo there is a pavilion that used belong to Franz Josef when the zoo started out as his own personal collection. It is now a café and, although I didn’t get the chance to go in, the preservation of the historic buildings (while maintaining a modern zoo atmosphere) really made it stand out altogether. Bronze statues of hippos added a nice touch to the pavilion and, although they probably don’t add any real educational or recreational value to the zoo, their cuteness factor was enough to make me want to take pictures of all of them.

 

 Photo Credit: Sarah Morris

 

I ended my day making the difficult decision of what magnet to buy in the gift shop, very glad overall that I had skipped the paintings of the palace and went to see the animals instead. To anyone going to Vienna, I would highly recommend the zoo. It’s a fun way to take a break from perusing all of the city’s lavish art while still getting to enjoy the beautiful surroundings that the palace has to offer.

 

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