The industrial city Wuppertal, which, stretched out along its own river valley and known for its green woods and parks, is not only home to a 19th-century urban transit system (the Wuppertal Schwebebahn) but also to a 19th-century zoo. Garden architect Franz Heinrich Siesmayer, has planned it like Carl Hagenbeck has designed the Hamburg Zoo. These kinds of zoos display wild animals in open, landscaped spaces instead of behind bars and visible fences. Siesmayer has taken full advantage of the hilly terrain and varied woodland that characterises the german Bergisches Land. The landscape filled with animal life should look like wilderness, and an excellent opportunity for city dwellers to step into the wild.
The Aktiengesellschaft (joint-stock company) Zoologischer Garten Elberfeld is established on December 5, 1879, and the zoo, as well as the still existing restaurant, opens on September 8, 1881. The main building, designed by Heinrich J. Kayser, has taken 10 years of construction and is also a baseline for the later evolved neighbourhood Zooviertel.
Arctic panorama Carl Hagenbeck
Following in Hagenbecks zoo in Hamburg Carl Hagenbeck's footsteps Josef Keusch, zoo director in 1900 and also a garden architect, strives to create zoo panoramas and barless enclosures.
The Nordland panorama (1910) is a copy of Hagenbecks arctic panorama in zoo Hamburg. It is a three-story panorama with Californian seals on the first, polar bears on the second and Siberian ibexes on the rocks at the highest level.
The Swiss sculptor Urs Eggenschwyler (1849-1923) provides the designs and animal trader Hagenbeck supplies the residents. Eggenschwyler is also the creator of the artificial mountain in zoo Hamburg. Short-clawed otters and African, as well as King penguins, can be seen on the left and right side of the panorama, in more recent enclosures. Unfortunately, the three polar enclosures are subsequently restored in different styles, which blurred the diorama effect.
Buildings spring up from the ground just like mushrooms. A deer house in 1951, an antelope and- zebra stable in 1952 and a bison house in 1955. August 1955, elephants Siwa and Rani find a new home in the elephant house. In 1956, the polar and sea lion enclosure, part of the polar panorama is updated in a different style. Concrete and natural stone are used instead of lightweight fake rocks from wood, wire and cement. Both the old and the new enclosure offers insufficient walking space. The bird house is constructed in 1960 and the gibbon house in 1966.
A number of animal enclosures date clearly from the 1970s and 1980s, in which the zoo has steadily evolved without complete redesigns based on the latest and hottest insights. The predator house is completed in 1970 and the penguin residence in 1971. The bird house (1960) is renovated in 1973 and the aquarium/terrarium (1927) completely replaced in 1974.
In 1991, the polar bear enclosure has been extended and renovated. The new elephant house 1995 is considered state-of-the-art and was the largest enclosure in Wuppertal zoo, with an outdoor area of 3000 m2 and an indoor area of 1340 m2. The zoo keeps a small herd of African elephants.
In 2003, the Zoo Society donates a barrier-free orang-utan enclosure, carefully laid down in the landscape near the ape house (1978), and surrounded by an artificial rock wall. The enclosure has been planned in dialogue with building management, the zoo and Rasbach architects, Oberhausen, and built for €1.15 million. The indoor enclosure encompasses 600 square meters and Rasbach has equipped the green outdoor areas with climbing trees, real plants and a stream. Visitors have several viewing options, including through tempered glass. In 2004, the Kodiak bear enclosure is launched.
In 2006, Rasbach replicates the original African penguin habitat to Wuppertal, a stretch of beach with remarkably high, rounded boulders and three underwater windows, making the penguin life visible on all sides. The penguin is the heraldic animal of zoo Wuppertal.
At the southern part, the zoo has been extended from 49 to 59 acres for the largest predator enclosure in Germany, to accommodate two species of cats, African lions and Siberian tigers. Near the artificial rocks of the big cat enclosure, Rohdecan architects have designed a new angular and terrace-shaped entrance building, separate from the Neo-Renaissance main building.
The joint-stock company Zoologischer Garten Elberfeld is established on December 5, 1879, and the zoo, as well as the still existing restaurant, opens on September 8, 1881.
The main building, designed by Heinrich J. Kayser, has taken 10 years of construction and is also a baseline for the later evolved neighbourhood Zooviertel.
At the beginning, there are just 34 animals such as wolves and a bear. A tennis court and playground provide entertainment while the lake is the place for canoeing, or ice-skating during the winter season. The birth of a lion cub in 1899 is one of the few highlights in zoological respect.
20th century until World War II
In 1912, a lion rock marks the end of the era of the lion's cage. The lion rock has been demolished in the mid-20th century.
May 1927, Krishna and Lakshmi, the first two elephants who have lived in Zoo Wuppertal, arrive at the zoo, while a crowd is waiting around the elephant house.
World War II
Few bombs fall on the Wuppertal Zoo, but all large carnivores are sent to other zoos or have to be shot. At the end of the war, zoo Wuppertal has 20 larger animals. Soon after the war, the zoo opens anew.
Post-war years of the 20th century
In 1955, Siwa has achieved the status of crowd favourite, but also the respectable age of 49 and therefore been nicknamed Grandma Siwa. Until the sixties, it has been practice having zoo animals to perform circus tricks for visitors. In Wuppertal too.
Zoo Wuppertal celebrates 100 years with enlargement of the gibbon enclosure and new enclosures for deer and beavers, funded by the Zoological Society. The city of Wuppertal pays a rapture enclosure. In the past century, the zoo appears to have had 40 million visitors. In 1993, the Zoo Society donates a tropical bird house including a walk-in free-flight aviary. The 125th anniversary in 2006, provides an opportunity for many innovations. The Zoo Society has collected €750.000 to replace the enclosures for the African and the King penguins.
The old Elephant House is now home to Baird's tapirs. A glass wall offers an underwater view.
Visit January 2007
In this zoo, you will find just few playground (one) or restaurants (two), and a lot of animals. Its integrated forest parts, slopes, vistas and a tiny bit of snow make it a really nice zoo to explore.
Zoo maps Wuppertal
Numbers 2005 vs 2015
- Species: 500 vs 460
- Animals: 5000 vs 4200
- 49 vs 59 acres
- 19th-century zoo
- Architect involved
- Classic zoo
- Listed structures