The Berlin zoos part 1: Tierpark Friedrichsfelde

Sometimes, Berlin can be confusing for visitors. The city has two zoos, located far apart, plus a part of town names Tiergarten, which literally translates to “animal garden” – sounds like zoo number three, but isn’t. There’s a lot of funny stories about people getting off trams and trains at Tiergarten expecting to be at the zoo Zoologischer Garten, when in fact the correct station would have been Zoologischer Garten – or vice versa. And then there is the East Berlin Zoo “Tierpark”, which can be reached with public transports via stations that have no zoo-indicating names……

Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) at the Berlin Tierpark Friedrichsfelde.

Anyways, there are two large zoos in town, The Zoologischer Garten (short: Zoo) in former West Berlin, and the Tierpark in the East. I can reach both from home in tolerable time, by car or, in case of the Zoologischer Garten, with public transport. Having two kids means making this journey fairly often, especially in summer, and this is the season where the differences become especially obvious: whereas the Zoo is the old zoo of the Prussian capital city, with some very nice historical buildings but little space, the Tierpark was founded after WWII in 1955, so that the capital of East Berlin would have a zoo of its own. There was no historic area or buildings available, because the old zoo was in the Western sectors, but there was Schloß Friedrichsfelde available. A small palace (really more a large house), but with a huge park around it with old trees and some canals. Today, this means that when summer weather and school holidays have gazillions of people stream into the zoos, the Zoo is chaos, whereas the Tierpark is a calm, nearly empty place where the kids can run and frolic as they please.

Avenue leading to Friedrichfelde Palace

Obviously, the rivalry between the two countries, governments and zoos meant that many animals, especially popular ones, were kept in both zoos. This included such obvious candidates as Indian elephants, lions, White rhinos, and penguins, but also some rarer animals. And both had (and have) a lot of prestige animals. Most notably, the Zoo has Giant pandas, whereas the Tierpark has both Indian and African Elephants, Indian rhinos, Red pandas and so on. I am not an expert on rare species, but having seen some zoos I noticed the relatively great diversity in both zoos immediately. For example, the Tierpark has three subspecies of takins.

The Tierpark has retained the park-like character, and that makes for sometimes pretty long walks between enclosures. It also means that some animals have a lot of space, for example the camels (Bactrian camel and Dromedary; see pic below) and the lamas. Part of the zoo is forest, for example around the bears’ area. The enclosure for the Brown bears has a large glass partition to the road, so that passersby can see it completely for free – idiotically, you can’t see anything from within the zoo because the stairs to the terrace overlooking it are out of repair. An old problem in Berlin: more ego than money!

The camel enclosure. Both Bactrian camels and dromedaries are kept here, and part of the moat is flamingo territory.

Around Friedrichsfelde Palace the gardens were kept in the basic baroque arrangement of paths and bridges and stairs, but there are simple lawns instead of complicated Buxus rows and flower beds. It’s still pretty nice, and the large fountain in front of the building has been repaired this year. On a part of the canal going around the palace is the pelican enclosure. It doesn’t look like much, but according to Wikipedia the Tierpark here keeps and successfully breeds almost all known pelican species. The animals are kept back by a low fence, which obviously doesn’t work, so they wander around the palace’s vicinity all day. About 30 minutes before sundown they start walking home from all corners of the park, a funny spectacle. For toddlers this part of the park is therefore a main attraction.

The main garden of the palace with a sleepy pelican.

I’ll post some nice zoo pics every now and then to break up the monotony of the dinosaur pics, so you’ll see a lot of Tierpark inhabitants over time.

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About Heinrich Mallison

I'm a dinosaur biomech guy working at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin.
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3 Responses to The Berlin zoos part 1: Tierpark Friedrichsfelde

  1. Pingback: Mammal pic of the day 7: Bath day | dinosaurpalaeo

  2. Pingback: Ein Affentheater – die Debatte um den Tierpark | dinosaurpalaeo auf Deutsch

  3. Pingback: The place is a zoo – the Tiergarten Berlin debate | dinosaurpalaeo

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