Previous Aquarium Blog (including info about Bendlerblock, the Sony Center, and the Reichstag)
Previous Zoo Blogs (including info about the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche, Europa Center, and the Fernsehturm)
We went to the aquarium first (May 19). We bought tickets for only the aquarium because we were worried that we wouldn’t have time to appreciate both the zoo and the aquarium on the same day. It was definitely the right decision. There was so much to see in the aquarium and because of its maze-like design, it was sometimes difficult deciding where to go next and where you’ve already been. I guess you just have to go there to know what I’m talking about. One important thing to note: The insects and herps (reptiles & amphibians) are housed in the aquarium, NOT the zoo. I say this because when we went to the zoo the next day, we ran into some other Americans who were looking for the reptiles. I told them that they were in the aquarium. They were disappointed and hadn’t planned on purchasing tickets for the aquarium. Oops. One thing I will say about the herp collection is that for me, personally, it was disappointing. There wasn’t a single herp there that I hadn’t already seen in a billion other zoos or out in the wild. It was sort of cool, though, to see A. contortrix and C. atrox on display in Berlin. I wonder why those species and not some of the more notorious snakes from the United States. ???
We went to the zoo the next day (May 20). It is HUGE. It has TONS of animals, including many that we had never seen before (panda, bonobos, etc). The enclosures are surprisingly open and *almost* accessible. In a few places, you only had to barely reach out to touch the animals. (The enclosures pose more of a threat to the animals from the public.) We got really, really close to a camel and probably could have gotten really, really close to a lot of other things. There was never a moment when I thought that an animal didn’t have enough space and this was a welcomed relief. The enclosures are incredibly well-designed so that even though they’re huge, patrons are still able to get a good view of the animals no matter where they are in their space. We spent six hours walking around the zoo but it was a beautiful day and time flew by. We were barely able to see all of the animals before it was time to leave.
Something that was interesting (but terribly inconvenient) was that there was no print zoo map to pick up anywhere. At all. We didn't even see one to buy. And no one was carrying them around. A map in one of the largest zoos in the world would have been nice.
Something else that both Chris and I have noticed is that people here seem to be much more conscious of what is acceptable and mature behavior. For example, every time I visit a zoo in the states, there's an issue with people banging on the glass and throwing food and other items at the animals. In six hours at the zoo and all day at the aquarium, I didn't witness that once.
Speaking of proper zoo behavior, up above is a picture of the polar bear enclosure that the crazy woman jumped into back in April. Yeah, we were there in May. And there was a very new-looking lifesaver device hanging on one side of the enclosure - which could NOT have been easy to get into. This woman HAD to be on a mission!
Anyway, if you love visiting zoos and/or aquariums, I recommend that you plan on seeing these at some point. I would go again in a heartbeat.