What are the largest zoos in Europe?
Whether you are traveling as a family with young children, are in the company of friends or are an intrepid solo traveler, when you are visiting a European city and want to take a break from the chaos of the city without going too far, a trip in the nearest zoo is always a great solution. In fact, if you are animal loving gods, or just curious, the zoo contains within it a world of its own, where different natural environments seem to coexist in perfect balance. (Obviously we are referring to zoos with a capital Z, those that treat animals with the respect and care they deserve, not those that are improvised as such)!
In this article, in particular, we have compiled a ranking of the largest and most beautiful European zoos you can visit, listed not only on the basis of technical parameters (which in any case we consider of fundamental importance), but also on the comments expressed directly by those who have already been there in the past.
So get ready for a wonderful journey of discovery in the wild accompanied by cunning cats, colorful birds, mischievous monkeys and ... protected species!
10 - Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, 32 hectares (100 acres)
In the south of Great Britain, in the province of Devon, the Paignton Zoo Environmental Park ranks tenth in the ranking of the largest zoos in Europe. Here it is possible to find a great variety of animal species divided into different areas according to their natural habitat: forest, savannah, swamp, grassland, etc. The real peculiarity of this zoo, however, is the fact that it is not just a traditional zoo but, on the contrary, the Paignton Zoo team is driven by a very specific mission which is to help the conservation and maintenance of some endangered species. Therefore, in addition to offering visitors the opportunity to participate in guided tours for educational purposes, the park is also involved in promoting a more sustainable lifestyle in the eyes of the community, in an attempt to draw attention to the environmental emergency.
- Location: Devon, England
- Number of animals: 2500
- Number of species: over 200
9 - Edinburgh Zoo, 33 hectares
The ninth position in our ranking is occupied by the Zoo of the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. Inaugurated in 1913, this zoo is located just five kilometers from the city center, in an area where tranquility and silence reign. Inside, there are more than 1000 specimens, many of which belong to rare and / or endangered species, or severely injured and unable to return to their natural habitat. Among them are the two splendid specimens of Giant Panda, the only ones present in the whole of Great Britain: the female, Sweetie, and the male, Sunshine, love to spend their time rolling and eating bamboo, and the infinite sweetness they transmit has always impressed both adults and children who visit us. .
- Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
- Number of animals: over 1000
- Number of species: 171
8 - Zoo Parc de Beauval, 35 hectares
Even in the Beauval Zoo you can admire the giant pandas (a young couple and their baby, born last year in December). However, the zoo is so large and full of attractions that it would be a shame to limit oneself to visiting only the pandas: among the species most loved by children, the red panda, the white tiger, the Indian rhinoceros, the alligators and the Californian seals with their funny poses. In addition to the attempt to get to know the animals up close, the French zoo's goal is to raise awareness among visitors by sharing several projects, including Silent Forest: a project that addresses the problem of illegal trafficking of plants and animals, unfortunately becoming more and more widespread in some areas of the world.
- Where: Beauval, France
- Number of animals: 10,000
- Number of species: 600
7 - Zoologischer Garten, 35 hectares
It is the oldest zoo not only in Berlin, but even all of Germany, besides being considered one of the largest zoos in the world for variety of species present. In fact, in 35 hectares there are more than 17,000 specimens, many of which come from Asian and African areas.
One of the zoo's quintessential symbols, however, is thePolar bear (or white bear) which, at 3 meters long, is one of nature's largest predators (excluding aquatic animals, of course). Inside the Zoogischer Garten it is also possible to visit the reptile house and the nearby aquarium, which with the huge pools of fluorescent light will make you feel part of another universe.
(At the entrance of the zoo, you can make a donation to support the park and the conservation of endangered species).
- Location: Berlin, Germany
- Number of animals: 17,000
- Number of species: 1400
6 - Chester Zoo, 51 hectares
Let's go back to England, this time to Cheshire to visit the sixth largest zoo in the world, with an extension exceeding 50 hectares: Chester Zoo. It is open from 10 am to 4 pm and houses the most diverse species, from African big cats to small Arctic penguins. The park is very famous for its mission to protect the environment and, almost every day, special events are held there such as the Breakfast with the Big Five of the Savannah (for those who do not know, these are the five largest animals of the savannah, namely the elephant, the lion, the leopard, the buffalo and rhinoceros), training and education courses for children and adults (much loved by the younger ones is the Junior Rangers Training Camp which is usually held on Sunday afternoons), as well as the possibility to organize your own birthday and anniversary parties, etc. in some specific areas of the zoo. However, the most anticipated time of the year is the Lantern Festival which takes place from November 23rd to December 23rd, during which the zoo is decorated with lanterns reminiscent of wild animals and specially created Christmas scenes: it is a unique spectacle that always pleases visitors of all ages.
- Location: Cheshire, England
- Number of animal specimens: more than 20,000 specimens
- Number of species: 710
5 - Pairi Daiza Zoo, 55 hectares
In the heart of Cambron-Casteau Abbey, the Pairi Daiza Zoo (formerly called Paradisio Zoo) is an unforgettable experience for the whole family. Among the more than 5000 specimens present, there are the panther, the Siberian tiger, the giraffe, as well as the two mascots of the park par excellence, namely the two sweet specimens of giant pandas, Hao Hao and Xing Hui. Apart from that, this zoo is definitely worth a visit because it has an incredible variety of different thematic environments: there are aviaries, tropical greenhouses, the educational farm for the little ones, eight hectares dedicated to the savannah, as well as a well-stocked aquarium, the Nautilus. In addition, the Pairi Daiza Zoo holds some important European records: here is the largest Chinese garden, the largest garden in Indonesia and the largest aviary.
- Where: Cambron-Casteau, Belgium
- Number of animals: about 5000
- Number of species: more than 350
4 - Prague Zoo, 58 hectares
In Prague, not far from Troja Castle, is the city zoo that houses 133 endangered species. In fact, since its opening in 1931, Prague Zoo has always pursued with commitment and perseverance on the part of all the staff the goal of preserving endangered species, something we are trying to achieve also thanks to the continuous development of zoological research, the commitment to the protection of nature and, above all, the education of citizens about the life of animals. It should come as no surprise that the first polar bear was born here in 1942 thanks to artificial insemination, and a few years later, in 2004, the first gorilla.
- Location: Prague, Czech Republic
- Number of animals: about 4600
- Number of species: more than 800
3 - Tierpark Berlin, 160 hectares
Also in Berlin, there is another of the largest zoos in Europe. The Tierpark Berlin in fact, together with the Zoologischer Garten, is one of the two zoos located in the German capital and very famous all over the world. The Tierpark Zoo is the largest zoo in Europe and is located in the German capital of Berlin The zoo is located in the district of Friedrichsfelde and contains more than 9000 specimens, many of which come from exotic countries. Thanks to its numerous play areas (including the petting zoo, where you can pet the farm animals) and the free train that allows you to explore the park at every corner, the Tierpark Berlin is a nice place for a family excursion, but also to be able to relax outdoors while in the city.
- Location: Berlin, Germany
- Number of animals: 9000
- Number of species: about 1000
2 - Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, 240 hectares
The Port Lympne Wild Animal Park is based in England, in the town of Hyte, and was built by the architect Sir Herbert Baker during the First World War. Given its size (about 240 hectares), it may be surprising that the park contains only 700 specimens (belonging to 90 species), but there is a more than plausible explanation: within the area it is possible to go on safari following organized routes, admiring the animals in freedom in their environment. Among these, you will have the opportunity to observe up close some very rare species, such as the black rhinoceros, present in very few specimens in the world. The park also offers an area called Dinosaur Forest, where it is possible to proceed on foot to discover the dinosaurs that once populated our planet: the dinosaurs in natural height are quite realistic and, next to the reproductions, some exhibition panels will allow you to discover something more about the prehistoric world. If, on the other hand, you are looking for an even more realistic experience, by downloading the park's free app from the Apple Store, you can experience a virtual reality experience.
- Location: Hyte, England
- Number of animals: more than 700
- Number of species: 90
1 - ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, 242 hectares
Not only the second, but also the first step of our podium is occupied by a zoo located in England, but this time in Whipsnade: it is the ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, belonging to the ZSL Society, an association focused on worldwide protection of animals and their natural habitat. Recognizable even from a few miles away by the silhouette of a large white lion that dominates one of the park's hills, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo has recreated very special environments such as the Butterfly House, open only since 2016 and already very popular with visitors, but also the Sea Lion Pool, the Passage through Asia which can be accessed aboard your car (or the Jumbo Express), Cheetah Rock, etc. Every day you can see the sea lion show or the colorful Birds of the World show near the aviary area. It is also possible to participate in photography workshops (for adults) and the Junior Zoo Academy (for children).
- Location: Whipsnade, England
- Number of animals: almost 4000
- Number of species: 190