Tiergarten Schönbrunn in Wien
Tiergarten Schönbrunn (literally, Schönbrunn Zoo) or Vienna Zoo is a zoo located on the grounds of the famous Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria. Founded as an imperial menagerie in 1752, it is the oldest zoo in the world. Today Tiergarten Schönbrunn is considered and regards itself as a scientifically administered zoo which sees its main purpose as a centre for species conservation and general nature conservation as well as in the fulfillment of the education mandate given to it by the legislation. The still preserved buildings of the baroque era, which have been complemented in the last years by elements of modern zoo architecture, convey still a good impression of the 18th century menagerie-buildings after the Versailles model.
Tiergarten Schönbrunn is one of the few zoos worldwide to house giant pandas. The zoo's pandas are named Yang Yang (F), Long Hui (M), Fu Long (M), and Fu Hu (M). Fu Long's birth on 23 August 2007 was the first natural insemination panda birth in Europe. Fu Hu was born exactly 3 years later, and he was also conceived via natural mating.
Other zoo attractions include a rainforest house, in which the spectator is led through a simulation of the Amazon Rainforest, an aquarium, which enables spectators to walk through underneath a simulation of the Amazon in flood, and, more recently, an exhibit of animals in unnatural habitats. The new polarium for animals of the Arctic region was opened in early 2004.
On July 14, 1906, the zoo saw the birth of the first elephant in captivity.
Since its privatization in 1992, it has been led by Helmut Pechlaner, also president of WWF Austria, who managed to modernize most parts of the zoo and sustain its financial situation. Nowadays, the zoo is managed by Dagmar Schratter.
Private and corporate sponsorship for the various animals is one of the methods employed by the zoo today, along with bookable night excursions and special children's programs. Zoological research takes place at the zoo.
The zoo was constructed in 1752 next to Schloss Schönbrunn by Adrian van Stekhoven at the order of the Holy Roman Emperor Francis I, husband of Maria Theresia, to serve as an imperial menagerie. It was centered around a pavilion meant for imperial breakfasts. Therefore, thirteen animal enclosures in the form of cut cake pieces were established around this central pavilion.
The central pavilions and the menagerie building were built by Jean Nicolas Jadot de Ville-Issey. A small zoo had already existed on the premises since 1540, but the complex was only opened to the public in 1779. Initially, there were no entrance fees.
Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II organized expeditions to Africa and the Americas to capture specimens for the zoo. The arrival of the first giraffe in 1828 influenced Viennese fashion and city life. Clothes', accessories', and other items' designs were influenced, and Adolf Bäuerle performed his play titled Giraffes in Vienna .
At the onset of World War I, the zoo was home to 712 species and 3500 specimens. Due to diminishing food supplies during the war, the number of specimens rapidly sank to 900. After the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after the war, the zoo became the responsibility of the Austrian Republic.
Bombing raids on February 19 and February 21 of 1945, during World War II, had an even greater impact on the zoo. Many buildings were destroyed and specimens killed, reducing the stock of specimens to 400. The new zoo director, Dr. Julius Brachetka, eventually managed to restore the zoo.
The zoo experienced a financial crisis in the 1980s, but closure of the zoo was prevented by privatization in 1992. Dr. Helmut Pechlaner was assigned as manager of the zoo. After his retirement on January 1, 2007, his deputy Dr. Dagmar Schratter took over his post.
Pechlaner was able to renovate and extend many of the enclosures thanks to a number of sponsors and significantly increased entrance fees. During his time as manager, the zoo was extended by a number of new buildings, including the rainforest house, the desert house, and the Tirolean Farm. A number of rare and exotic specimens, such as giant pandas and koalas, were attracted to the zoo and contributed to its upswing in popularity.
In the media
A number of tragic accidents have plagued the zoo. In 2002 a jaguar attacked a caretaker during feeding, killing her in front of zoo visitors. The director tried to help and sustained heavy arm injuries. In February 2005 the young elephant Abu lethally crushed his caretaker. In the following press storm, director Pechlaner offered to resign over the issue.
The zoo is a filming location for the ORF series Tom Turbo, which is based on a series of children's books by Thomas Brezina. Tom Turbo has its garage at the zoo since 2006, and is, together with its creator, sponsor of a tiger at the zoo. Former zoo director Pechlaner makes cameo appearances in a number of episodes.
The 250 Years Vienna Zoo Silver Coin
The Zoo is so popular and famous that on its 250th anniversary it was the topic of one of the most famous silver collectors coins: the 5 euro 250 Years of Vienna Zoo commemorative coin minted on May 8, 2002.
The reverse shows the Emperor's Pavilion surrounded by a variety of animals from the zoo. The dates 1752-2002 refer to the anniversary and, of course, date the coin itself.
- Ash, Mitchell and Dittrich, Lothar (ed.), Menagerie des Kaisers – Zoo der Wiener, Pichler Verlag, Vienna, 2002.
- Helmut Pechlaner, Dagmar Schratter, Gerhard Heindl (publisher): Von Kaiser bis Känguru. Neues zur Geschichte des ältesten Zoos der Welt. Vienna 2005,