Vienna Zoo Animal Park Schönbrunn
The imperial Schönbrunn menagerie has been established in the baroque gardens of the Summer Palace of the emperor of Austria and Hungary, Francis I. It is the world’s oldest zoo, one of the last wild animal collections of monarchs in the tradition of the Baroque Middle Ages.
The menagerie is inspired by the Enlightenment and Versailles rather than by oriental ornaments referring to the 19th-century longing for faraway places.
Francis I's commission to his court architects Adriaan van Steckhoven and Jean-Nicolas Jadot de Ville-Issey results in the circular shape characteristic of baroque menageries. The 13 structures surrounding the Imperial Pavilion are also known as the Loggia Circle. A radial grid in which central sight lines connect the zoo with the palace and the botanical garden. Jadot has worked with mathematical precision. Symmetry, straight paths, and late Baroque buildings in the yellow-and-green of the Habsburg Monarchy.
1759 The Emperor's Pavilion
The octagonal, historical centerpiece stands on a platform and its interior is decorated with exotic animal motifs. Its ceiling fresco by Mildorfer represents scenes from Ovid's Metamorphoses. From here, the paths protrude into the garden like wheel spokes. The main viewing axis runs to the palace. Empress Maria Theresia and her Franz had breakfast here and since 1950 it serves as a restaurant for zoo visitors. It is said that the pavilion had an underground connection with the palace and that Francis I conducted alchemist experiments in a basement lab.
The Emperor's Pavilion stands in the middle of what appears to be a sliced pie. Walls are on three sides around the individual animal enclosures. Each enclosure has an animal house at the far end and bars on the side of the central pavilion. The walls have been demolished. However, there is still a stable on the outer edge of each, just as thenadays. There are 12 animal enclosures and to the west, the circle includes the two-storeyed Workers Complex. In 1868, seals are swimming in the pool in front. In 1954, the statue of Pluto on a seal by Josef Haberl-Carlo was placed in the pool. Until the early 20th century, this part of the zoo owes its name to the bird of prey cages on either side of the staff building. Court of Eagles.
1828 Giraffe House
The pie slice for the giraffes is long and slim, just like them. From 2015-17, the historic structure was stripped, renovated, and rebuilt according to a design by architects Hartmann and Leopold, with a great deal of attention to moisture control and a pleasant indoor climate.
In the substructure of the new winter garden, the parasol acacia is clearly legible. A roof of leaves forms the crown upon the steel branches. These are solar cells in laminated glass panels. The parasol shape is reminiscent of the palm pillars in the Cologne elephant enclosure. Roof and facade glazing allow daylight to flow through. The insulated and drained floor construction is finished with a cast floor. Visitors can take the elevator or stairs to the gallery and look the giraffes straight in the eye.
The outdoor enclosure is modeled on an African savannah with a water hole.
The East Africa House opens at the same time as the renovated Giraffe House on May 10, 2017. For this purpose, the former marsh birdhouse next to the historic Giraffe House has been demolished in consultation with monument care and rebuilt in the same form. The East Africa House presents smaller animal species from the habitat of the giraffes, such as dwarf mongooses.
1841 Monkey Houses
The Biedermeier building, occupated by birds before is reopened as Monkey House. Later on, in 1847, an octagonal cage equipped with ropes and trees is added.
At the beginning of the 20th century, court architect Cajo Perisic creates a 2-story rectangle under a translucent roof structure with a central inner space for visitors surrounded by animal enclosures, while the octagonal climbing cage is reduced in volume.
In 1930, the animals in this closed facility get more fresh air. Outdoor cages are added, windows enlarged, and a separate area for great apes. The octagonal cage is enlarged again. The enlarged arched windows on the parterre make the outside cages accessible.
In 1995 the copper roof is renewed and the outdoor cages are lengthened thus creating opportunities for rain showers or sunbathing. The Tiergarten presents itself as a zoo with happy animals.
When the orangutans move out in May 2009, the zoo together with the architects Neversal and Hartmann and monument preservation want to
go back to the Imperial style paying attention to the natural way of life of the animals and making visitors feel like they are looking in the mirror in the Monkey House.
From 2012 it looks light and spacious. The filigree cast iron in the central visitor's room is again light gray and blue. Above and below, the reconstructed historic window openings have a transparent grid. A narrow corridor reconnects the climbing cage with the interior like back then. For the first time, visitors can take the stairs or elevator to enter the gallery, where an exhibition about humans and apes has been set up.
1889 General reconstruction
Emperor Francis Joseph starts a general reconstruction of animal exhibits and infrastructure. The area is enlarged. The walls around the menagerie are dismantled and fences replace the walls separating the loggias.
1954 Giant Panda and Elephant House
Renovation of the elephant compound includes enlargement in 1896. In 1928 a pool is added to the outside exhibit. An elephant is born in Schönbrunn, for the first time ever in a zoo. Until then it is widely believed that elephants in captivity do not produce offspring. In 1954 the bomb-damaged elephant enclosure is replaced. Wide trenches are used instead of iron bars.
The elephant training program (1961) appears to be public entertainment at the same time.
In 1996 the elephants are moved to the new elephant exhibit in the southwestern of the zoo. The former elephant enclosure is adapted for the mandrils. After the opening of the Mandrill Forest in 1997, the elephant enclosure is adapted as a giant panda facility.
1954 Hippopotamus House
The first hippopotamus is housed in the Elephant House. In 1911 the Hippo- and Rhinoceros House is completed. In 1923 a pool is added to the outside enclosure. After World War II a new Hippo House is installed (1954) on the site of the war-damaged predator houses. The building has a concrete terrace and a pool in the front. In 1996 the terrace is transformed into an outdoor enclosure. In 2001 the inner pool is equipped with a filter system.
On July 29, 1772, Francis I is leading his guests through the privately-owned menagerie recently established in the park of his Schönbrunn Summer residence. The menagerie of the initial variant houses animals (though no predators because of the smell) transferred from the menageries Neugebaüde and Belvedere. After the abolition of serfdom (1771) the Habsburg emperor Jozef II decides to grant public access to the menagerie, along with the imperial gardens, in 1778. The doors of the Menagerie open to decently dressed persons, initially on Sundays only. The menagerie is administered together with the palace gardens.
1828 Giraffe hype
1828 Giraffe hype Emperor Joseph II organizes hunting expeditions to Africa. The first giraffe in Vienna is the event of the year with hype in fashion, design, theater, and even food (giraffe cake) just like France went mad the year before when the first giraffe arrived in the menagerie Paris. Despite all the fuss, the Giraffe House has to be enlarged...
In 1899, the diplomatic gift orangutan Peter escapes into a tree to be detained orangutan again a few days later.
After World War I, the number of animals at Schönbrunn shrinks from 3500 animals representing over 700 species in 1914 to only 400 in 1921. Vienna raises enough funds to save the menagerie.
As of 1924, Otto Antonius is the zoo director. This year the menagerie changes its name from Menagerie Schönbrunn to Tiergarten Schönbrunn, which literally translates as animal garden. Antonius likes to quote Alfred Brehm: Animals feel at home in a good cage and they feel imprisoned in a bad cage. When he launches a program to breed back extinct European species like the European bison and aurochs, he was easily associated with nazism. Near the end of WWII - bombs on the zoo and the Russians coming - Antonius and his wife commit suicide.
In World War II many of the zoo's buildings and enclosures are destroyed and over 1000 animals are killed. The Emperor's Pavilion is heavily damaged.
Visit December 2007
The live exhibits are organized by taxonomy. Penguins from the frozen continent of Antarctica next to polar bears from the Arctic, sure! There is plenty of information available without constantly being bombarded with information signs. Some lady visitors are wearing fur coats in the zoo.
Visit January 2023
On the last day in Vienna, I go to the zoo which makes this officially a zooliday, because more than one zoo visit! A rich zoo in a rich country comes with a hefty price tag I am glad to pay.
Although long time no be here, the garden feels familiar. The great thing about a zoo on the Unesco World Heritage List is that you don't see any random changes. The consistent color scheme radiates quiescence, and every building has a large information board with a chronological overview. The Monkey House has always been a great space which is still the case after the renovation in 2012. Gone are the dark green vegetation and the tangle of ropes with free-roaming marmosets. Light and the old imperial glory instead of dark. And for the first time, you can go upstairs.
Equally impressive is the almost transparent new conservatory for the giraffes. A lot has been taken away from the past here, and a lot has been transformed and innovated, but the balance is right.
Zoo maps Vienna
Numbers 2007 vs 2015
- Species: 430 vs 700
- Animals: 3100 vs 8500
- 17 ha
- 18th-century baroque zoo
- Giant Panda