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Koln Zoo (Cologne Zoo)

Address Riehler Straße 17350735
How to Find it:
Open: Summer 9-18 Uhr, Winter 9-17 Uhr (Aquarium until18
Prices: Adult: 17 DM (zoo and aquarium), child 8,50 DM
No of Species No of Animals Star Rating
Mammals Conservation
Birds Enclosures
Reptiles Education
Amphibians Recreation
Fish Research
Total 0 0
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This critique last updated:  Jan 2008

Official Description

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Visitor Reviews

This review submitted by Mike Grayson September 2000
Cologne's zoo occupies about 48 acres of land in the northern suburbs of this German city, and within this area the visitor will find a wide-ranging collection of animal life, from spiders to elephants.
The entrance complex, of sturdy but somewhat unattractive rectangular concrete aspect, also includes the zoo's aquarium-cum reptile house-cum insectarium. This can be visited separately from the main zoo, if one doesn't wish to buy a combined ticket for both. The ground floor of this building contains both the aquarium and the reptile collection, with the insectarium being upstairs. There is a good cross-section of species on display, though some of the exhibits look a bit cramped for space by today's standards. Both freshwater and marine fish are kept, plus a variety of lizards, snakes, crocodilians and chelonians. It is thought that Cologne achieved the first captive breeding of the Dwarf Caiman, the smallest of the New World crocodilians [4 to 5 feet/1.2 to 1.5 metres/long]; and many other species have been bred here over the years. It is an interesting building in which the enthusiast can quite easily spend a couple of hours, though on busy days it may require patience to get a good look at all the individual tanks and vivaria.
Moving on into the main body of the zoo, the collection of mammals and birds is so large that to describe every exhibit would require a lengthy treatise, and so this review must be a little selective. The South America House – built originally as a bird house in 1899 – now holds marmosets, tamarins and a few larger South American primates. The most unusual of these is the elderly pair of White Uakaris. These short-tailed, red-faced, white-furred monkeys attract attention with their (frankly rather ugly) appearance, but also because of their rarity. Uakaris are hardly ever exhibited in zoos, and these two are probably now the only ones in Europe. The interior of this house is given a 'tropical' feel by a thick layer of damp wood chippings underfoot, which may not be to everyone's taste. Some of the cages on either side of the building are linked across the middle by enclosed wire runways about eight feet above the floor, so it is not unusual to see marmosets scampering above your head on their way from one enclosure to another.
Another house for primates is the Lemur House, which holds a very fine collection of these Madagascan prosimians. Also in this house is another great zoo rarity; a breeding group of Douc Langurs. These are colourful leaf-eating monkeys from Indochina, where hunting and habitat destruction is driving them towards extinction.
The final primate accommodation comes in the form of Cologne's Ape House, built in the style of a huge greenhouse with outdoor extensions. Lowland Gorillas, Bornean Orang- utans and Bonobos (also called Pygmy Chimpanzees) can be seen here, and it would be hard to find better-exhibited apes anywhere in Germany.
From primates to carnivores, and some more striking animal accommodation in the form of two huge, domed enclosures holding Snow Leopards and Persian Leopards. Lions and Siberian Tigers have more traditional moated paddocks, whilst bears – Asiatic Black, Sun, Grizzly, and Spectacled – are exhibited in a row of moated rockwork enclosures, which have been improved by the provision of substrates and furnishings to help combat boredom amongst the occupants. Other smaller carnivores include European Otter and Red Panda, both of which have modern, landscaped outdoor enclosures. Stretching the definition of 'carnivore' to include pinnipeds, a group of Californian Sealions can be seen in a pool dating from 1888 – one of the zoo's oldest remaining structures. Although not a 'state of the art' facility, the sealions seem to do well enough in it.
The zoo's collection of hoofed mammals also includes a fair number of rarities, such as the Bokharan Hangul. Despite its exotic-sounding name, this is a close relative of our Red Deer. More exotic in appearance is the Saiga, a bulbous-nosed antelope from the Ukraine -Kazakhstan region. This species is very susceptible to infections when moved into wetter, more temperate, climes, and Cologne is one of very few zoos which have succeeded in keeping and breeding Saiga. Banteng (wild cattle from Java) and Musk Oxen from Greenland are also noteworthy, though the group of Reticulated Giraffes may be more popular with the average zoo visitor.
Cologne's newest exhibit is a Tropical House, opened this year (2000) which holds birds and a small number of mammals and reptiles. It focuses on the fauna of South-east Asia and New Guinea. Visiting on a busy day, I found it hard to see any of the free-flying birds which are at liberty in the heavily-planted main hall. Some other birds, such as Palm Cockatoos, are held in individual glass-fronted enclosures. Similar accommodation is supplied for Matschie's Tree Kangaroos and Crocodile Monitors, two rarely-seen denizens of the New Guinea rain forests. The Crocodile Monitor is one of the world's largest lizards, though not as massive as the famous 'Komodo Dragon'. Visiting this house on a quiet Winter morning would be the ideal time to see it at its best, in my opinion.
There is much more to see at Cologne than the short overview given here can cover, so a (very) full day is required if everything is going to be seen. The visitor from Britain will be treated to the sight of a good many species which cannot be seen in any UK zoos, so it is well worth making the effort to get to this excellent German animal collection if the opportunity arises.

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