North Rhine-Westphalia has more zoos than any other federal state. Visitors are spoilt for choice, as every single zoo and zoological park beckons with some very unique highlights: Some have colourful butterfly houses, others safari tours to wild animals in the savannah, or a 360-degree glass tunnel aquarium with a view of an underwater world that will surely cast its spell on any visitors. No matter if you prefer the classic zoo experience, love petting zoos, or enjoy the sea most, you will surely find the perfect place for your very own animal-themed experience here.
Animals are travelling around the world
Pachyderms at the Cologne Zoo
The zoo in the Cathedral City is the third-oldest zoo in Germany. Housing 500 animal species from all continents and oceans, it also counts among the largest ones. The Cologne Zoo can boast the largest and most modern elephant park north of the Alps among its offering, with ten Asian elephants living there. Its Hippodome, a replica of an African river landscape, allows zoo visitors to admire hippos and Nile crocodiles even under water.
Watching koalas at sleep in Duisburg
The Duisburg Zoo was the first zoo in Europe to dare tackle a very special project back in the mid-1990s: Visitors can watch fluffy koalas feed here – at least while the sleepy marsupials aren’t busy napping. If you prefer a bit more action in your day, drop by the dolphinarium, where bottlenose dolphins perform their tricks in dolphin shows.
Fun fact: The Duisburg Zoo is divided into two areas connected by a wide bridge across the A3 motorway.
Floating to the Wuppertal Zoo
The Grüner Zoo Wuppertal is made unique simply by the journey there, as it is the only zoo in Germany with an aerial tramway connection. Among its highlights is its penguin enclosure, one of the largest and most modern ones of its kind in Europe. The 15-metre-long acrylic glass tunnel running underneath the water affords a special experience to visitors and allows them to observe the animals’ swimming and diving skills from such an unusual perspective.
Experiencing South America at the Dortmund Zoo
The Dortmund Zoo is the home to more than 230 animal species against a green backdrop. Enclosures and animal houses are scattered across a historical park with old trees. The zoo houses mostly South American species such as large anteaters, tamanduas, giant otters, and dazzling Amazonian parrots. Adventure stations let children try out whether they can jump further than a kangaroo or climb as skilfully as a spectacled bear.
Through Alaska, Africa, and Asia in the Zoom Erlebniswelt Gelsenkirchen
Take a trip around the world for a day! In Gelsenkichen, the themed worlds of Alaska, Africa, and Asia offer some insights into the vegetation zones of the different continents and present the animals living there to visitors. The Alaskan World offers the Bering Strait as a special attraction in the form of a nine-metre-long glass tunnel through the water basin where visitors can get up close to curious sea lions. Guests can explore the African theme world from the water in boats, while the Asian area has orangutans romping in the large Asia Hall.
A dry route through the “all-weather-zoo” in Münster
Covered “all-weather walkways” take visitors to many of the zoo’s buildings on dry feet even when it rains in Münster. About 300 animal species live on about 30 hectares in the all-weather zoo. In summer, guests may encounter penguins doing their daily fitness routine on the visitor paths. Some other highlights include the great ape house, the bear house, and the aquarium.
Krefeld Zoo: A place for bird lovers and butterfly fans
The Krefeld Zoo stands out with its bird house with a tropical-humid climate for feathered animals from three continents that dazzle with their sparkling colours and exotic shapes. In the butterfly jungle, visitors can let up to 200 different butterflies enchant them.
Free-flying storks and free-roaming monkeys at Rheine Nature Zoo
Visitors may encounter almost entirely free-roaming Barbary macaques at the Rheine Nature Zoo in Münsterland. Germany’s first monkey forest lets humans and macaques literally look each other in the eye. Visitors may also experience the animals up close in other habitats there, such as the stork reserve that houses more than 60 free-flying white storks, or the wetland aviary, where herons, ibises, and spoonbills forage among marsh plants.
In the thick of it at the Hamm Zoo
The Hamm Zoo lets visitors get close to its animals not only on the children’s farm with the associated petting zoo. Several other enclosures are open to guests as well. The albino kangaroos or the alpacas, for example, can be observed from close up. Borneo gibbons, Madagascar fossas, feline carnivores, and tayras, a member of the marten family, are some other special features hardly to be found in any other zoo in Germany.
Aqua, Terra & Co
Zoos with a focus on the animal
Underwater worlds in Oberhausen and Königswinter
From the large sea turtle to the tiny offspring of the blacktip reef shark, NRW’s two Sea Life aquariums offer some exciting glimpses of underwater worlds. Oberhausen alone has more than 5,000 marine creatures swimming in its pools. An underwater dome has blacktip reef sharks, catsharks, rays, and other marine life swimming alongside and above the visitors. The “Turtle Adventure” theme world presents several turtle species and their respective habitats.
The highlight of Sea Life Königswinter is the Germany’s only 360-degree glass tunnel aquarium. More than 2,000 animals from around the world are living here in total.
Sharks and crocodiles at the Düsseldorf Aquazoo
As the name suggests, water plays a major role at the Düsseldorf Aquazoo. In contrast to other zoos, most of the animals living here are at home in or near the water. The theme of “evolution” forms a common thread through 25 themed rooms as visitors follow the history of living creatures from their origins in the water, dispersal in the sea, conquest of freshwaters, to colonisation of all land habitats. More than 500 different species can be observed in the aquariums, terrariums, and large enclosures.
On Safari Tour in Safariland Stukenbrock
Are you feeling like going on a safari tour in the middle of NRW? Take your car, a safari bus, or a Safariland van and set out on the off-road trails across the savannah area, with more than 600 animals such as white lions, leopards, or giraffes. If you have not seen all you wanted to on a day trip, you can spend the night in one of the lodges and say good night to flamingos, tigers, and their companions. Sleep feeling as if you were in Africa.
Homoiotherm meeting poikilotherm at the Terra Zoo in Rheinberg
The Terra Zoo in Rheinberg in the Lower Rhine region has only reptiles, amphibians, and some few invertebrates such as tarantulas. About 400 cold-blooded animals from about 100 different species live in the zoo’s buildings. Zoo guests are allowed to watch the keepers at their daily work and can learn a lot about native reptiles in daily guided tours or at the zoo school.
Marvelling at fossils in the Bochum Zoo
The zoo with its Fossilium facility offers some exciting insights into evolution as similarities and differences between animals still living today and their extinct ancestors become clear. The North-Sea themed area lets visitors watch lively harbour seals and Humboldt penguins frolic in seawater.
Free-flight halls in the monkey and bird park Eckenhagen
Barbary and small squirrel monkeys, parrots, pheasants, and flamingos live in the Eckenhagen Monkey and Bird Park. There are many others, too, though, as a total of 180 animal species are at home on the grounds of this park in the Bergisches Land region, some of which can be fed and petted in the petting zoo and in the total of seven walk-in open-air halls.
Visiting native animals
Wolf, lynx, bison, and others in the Bielefeld Heimat-Tierpark Olderdissen
The Heimat-Tierpark Olderdissen specialises in preservation of native animal species. Its site of approximately 15-hectares introduces visitors to bison, tarpans, wolves, lynxes, wildcats, eagle owls, and ravens, among other animals. The park’s bird of prey sanctuary takes in injured birds such as buzzards and owls to release them back into the wild once recovered. The most recently renovated bear enclosure is considered a special attraction. Animal lovers are welcome day and night in Bielefeld, where the Olderdissen Zoo is open until 10 pm.
Exploring the native wilderness in the Wildwald Vosswinkel in Arnsberg
Eagle owls, foxes, mouflons, or even wild boars and martens roam the forests here along with equally free-roaming visitors. Whether it’s the awakening of nature in spring or the rutting of the deer in autumn: the Wildwald has its own special attractions any time of year.
Bird-of-prey sanctuary and game reserve Hellenthal
One of the oldest and largest bird-of-prey facilities of its kind in Central Europe can be found at the heart of the Eifel. How well do owls hear? How fast do hawks fly? How high do eagles circle? The daily bird shows teach guests a lot about the impressive animals. The bird-of-prey sanctuary is embedded in an open-air game enclosure that gives a home to wild animals such as red deer, wild boar, or stone martens and lynx. The wildcat, the heraldic animal of the nearby Eifel National Park, is living here as well.