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The Tiergarten Schonbrunn

Listed under Visitor Attractions in Vienna, Austria.

  • Photo of The Tiergarten Schonbrunn
  • Photo of The Tiergarten Schonbrunn
Photo of The Tiergarten Schonbrunn
Photo by flickr user bigbear3001
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The Tiergarten Schonbrunn (Vienna Zoo) is a small zoo by today’s standards but it’s hardly surprising when you take into consideration that this is the oldest zoo in the world!

The history of the Tiergarten goes back to Empress Maria Theresia and her husband Franz Stephan von Lothringen, who commissioned his compatriot and architect Jean Nicholas Jadot der Ville-Issey, to design a menagerie in the park of Schönbrunn, the new Habsburg-Lothringen summer residence.

The summer of 1752 saw the animals brought to the zoo and presented to the public. Until the end of Maria Theresia’s reign in 1780, the menagerie was largely reserved for the Imperial family, although school classes were invited along soon after it opened. In 1778, along with the castle and park, the menagerie was opened for ‘decently dressed persons’ on Sundays. 1770 saw the first elephant arrival, with wolves and bears following in 1781. By 1800 it also had polar bears, big cats, hyenas and kangaroos for visitors to marvel at every day.

Thankfully today’s zoo looks very different to the opening day version. While it may not boast the variety of more modern zoos, the Tiergarten Schonbrunn has shifted perspective to the conservation of endangered species, especially European ones such as the European Bison and some Austrian breeds of horses, meaning that it’s still important to the zoological world. The inauguration of the children’s zoo and the zooeducation department aims at helping young ones understand the importance of conservation.

Vienna Zoo Website.

Written by  John Johnston.

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