Copenhagen Zoo was founded in 1859 by an ornithologist, so it isn’t surprising that most of the first animals were mostly a handful of birds, including eagles, ducks, chickens and other feathered critters. Also part of the original collection of animals was a fox, a turtle in a bucket, and a seal in a bathtub. The zoo quickly grew, and now occupies 27 acres in Fredericksburg, Denmark. With more than a million visitors a year, it is one of Denmarks most popular tourist attractions.
While there are some historical buildings from the late 19th century still intact, their uses have changed as the zoo and the animal enclosures have been renovated over the past 25 years. Another historical piece is the 143 foot tower made entirely of wood from which guests can view not only the zoo below but a large part of the cityscape as well. One of the major renovations includes the 3.7 acre Savannah exhibit area, which features the new Elephant House designed by Sir Norman Foster, an award winning British Architect. The new home for the elephant’s features two different glass-domed inside enclosures to allow for natural light, unlike the dark elephant barns of the past. The enclosures for females and males are designed differently to allow the males to be kept separate as needed. The outside area is a 2 acre area complete with a pool for the elephants to play and keep cool.
The Hippo House is home to one male and two female hippos, complete with a swimming pool with an underwater viewing area so guests can watch the hippos swimming from underneath. There is information on the animals so kids and adults alike can learn fun facts about these huge semi aquatic animals, like how they avoid getting water in their ears when submerged. Other water loving creatures to view are the Nile Crocodiles, which can be found in the Discovering the Rainforest area. This exhibit is an experience for all the senses, from the feel of the humid misty air to the sights and sounds of a huge diversity of unique animals climbing, flying and crawling about. Free-flying colorful birds dip and screech, frogs and toads of every color imaginable croak and creep about, and slow moving sloths perch quietly in the tree tops. One of the most interesting animals to see is the world’s smallest deer, the Dik Dik, a forest creature about the size of a housecat. In one section of the rainforest part of the zoo, Butterfly Hall, guests will be astounded by all types of winged insects floating about.
The Copenhagen Zoo is the only place in the world outside of Australia to see Tasmanian devils in captivity. Other very rare animals to encounter are the Golden Lion-maned Tamarins, and there is a movie that accompanies their exhibit to learn about the animals and how the zoo is involved in conserving them in their native environment in Brazil. A visitor can also learn about Lemurs while viewing them jumping and swinging about their space, including why Lemurs are only found in the wild in Madagascar. And of course, a guest should not miss the Savannah part of the zoo, where two equally odd animals, the white rhino and the wildebeest, share an enclosure. Close by, a guest will find impala, zebra, ostriches, and weather permitting, the giraffe. In a space by itself, the only animal related to giraffe, the quiet, shy rainforest dwelling Okapi, can also be seen.
There are many keeper talks at the zoo about everything from the elephants to the polar bears, and often the opportunity to see these great bears during feeding. There is a bird training experience, and the opportunity to learn how to milk a cow. In the children’s zoo, there is a pony track available during most of the year, and the chance for up close and personal encounters with snakes, rabbits and goats. The zoo also offers three different guided tours, one on the animals of Africa’s Savannah animals, one that focuses on animals from the polar and grizzly bear to the wolves that the zoo is working to preserve, and lastly a tour that focuses on the chimpanzees and some rainforest animals. The last tour also teaches about the products humans take from the rainforest, like coffee, cinnamon, and rubber and the need to protect the world’s remaining intact rainforests.