Zoo Leipzig: On nature’s trail 145 years old – but keeping up with the times

The zoo of the future is becoming a reality in Leipzig. This innovative concept that unites animal welfare with extraordinary animal encounters for visitors and an international commitment to species conservation in an unparalleled way, has been in place since the year 2000. Visions, which have become a reality at the zoo, that will celebrate its 145th anniversary this year, have set worldwide standards.

The expedition starts at the crack of dawn: Visitors follow nature’s trail through six impressive theme worlds in Zoo Leipzig: the historic Founder’s Garden, the tropical discovery world Gondwanaland, the unique ape enclosure Pongoland as well as the theme worlds Asia, Africa and South America that promise thrilling animal encounters, gastronomic delicacies and interesting facts about endangered species and species conservation.

More than 1.8 million visitors, its award as the best zoo in Germany from zoo expert Anthony Sheridan and feedback from colleagues from all over the world highlight the continuous positive development that has been going on for more than two decades at Zoo Leipzig with the goal of becoming a zoo of the future that is in touch with naturewith its natural enclosures and state-of-the-art animal husbandry.

Visitors watch with amazement as our Asian pachyderms take a refreshing bath in the elephant temple Ganesha Mandir and the two juveniles Akito and Bao Ngoc provide a breath of fresh air in the herd. Thrilling encounters are guaranteed, when the snow leopards prowl through the high-mountain landscape of the Himalayas, while giraffes, oryx and ostriches roam the expanses of the Leipzig Kiwara Savannah and the young apes perform daredevil climbing feats. In South America you can spot maned wolves, giant anteaters, lesser rheas and peccaries from a meandering wooden platform through the Pampas, the Pantanal and Patagonia and in the lovingly designed bee garden, the little ones are in high demand.

© Zoo Leipzig GmbH

A jungle expedition in Leipzig

The tropical discovery world Gondwanaland is one of the highlights of visiting the zoo: visitors experience a majestic rainforest with more than 24,000 tropical plants and hundreds of exotic animals. Instead of concrete, steel and tiles, it is spacious enclosures modelled on natural habitats, sheltered tree stands and extensivewatercourses that characterise this tropical dome, enabling it to fit in with the zoo’s natural image. In addition to numerous other endangered species, giant otters, Komodo dragons and tapirs fascinate the visitors.

© Zoo Leipzig GmbH

New aquarium experience – a round tour through colourful waters

The most recent realisation of the master plan is the reopened aquarium after itselaborate refurbishment. This historic gem in Founder’s Garden focuses on tropical and subtropical marine and freshwater habitats and their inhabitants. In the newly designed aquarium forecourt, visitors get a taster of the thematic complex with a large koi pond landscape and a 2.30-metre-high koi dome, before entering the rotunda, where an imposing staircase leads up to the 360° panorama tank. There you will find bonnethead sharks and various species of cownose rays. The absolute highlight is the 120,000-litrepanorama tank with its overhead transparent panel, depicting a flooded South American rainforest and providing extraordinary insights into the life of its underwater inhabitants.A jellyfish roundabout shown for the first time in Leipzig, a visitor dome in the Nemotank as well as a discovery station, which provide insights into the ecosystem deep sea, are other novelties that turn a day at the zoo into an unforgettable trip out.

The responsible master plan concept Zoo of the Future developed by zoo director Prof. Jörg Junhold has the double effect of increasing the attractiveness of the zoo for both its animals and its visitors. On the one hand, the animals have ideal conditions in enclosures that resemble their natural habitats and on the other visitors experience nature with all of their senses on a walk round the zoo, often with barrier-free views into the enclosures. Our goal is to achieve a largely cageless, near-natural Zoo of the Future by 2027, explains Prof. Junhold.

Beyond these modern zoo facilities, the innovative concept “Zoo of the Future” includes many offers around the fascinating plant and animal world. Visitors can leave their everyday life behind at the zoo and experience the world of animals with all of their senses. Asian, African and South American themed gastronomy is just as much a part of Zoo Leipzig as specific group offers for target groups with guided tours and catering.

© Zoo Leipzig GmbH

A central pillar: species conservation

Nature and species conservation are some of the main goals of Zoo Leipzigand will be extended with a new component in the education concept with the new opening of the Ark discovery house as a multimedia centre this year. The zoo is involved in international breeding programmes, it is responsible for the international studbooks of certain species, supports species conservation projects all over the world and enables visitors to directly contribute to international species conservation with a voluntary 1 Euro donation. The hamster breeding station that was opened in 2022 will also contribute to the regional conservation of endangered species.

Furthermore, in 2014 Zoo Leipzig was the first zoo in Germany to receive the EMAS certification for its environmental management system, after being assessed by independent environmental auditors.