“Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!”
Due to the East-West divide, Berlin has multiples of a lot of different institutions. Back in the day, you couldn’t easily cross from West to East and you couldn’t cross from East to West at all, so there were two city centers, several theaters, and many opera houses. And, as the world renowned Zoologischer Garten was deep in the heart of West Berlin, East Berlin opened its own zoo in 1955 on the gardens of Schloss Friedrichsfelde.
After reunification, Berlin decided to keep both zoos open. Rather than closing the Tierpark, the city decided to make it a complementary attraction to the larger Berlin Zoo. The zoos swapped a few species and both remained open to visitors. Today, the Tierpark is home to over 800 species of animals, which are spread out over 160 hectares.
Although Zoologischer Garten is much more famous than the Tierpark and has far more species within its borders, the Tierpark is well worth a visit. Because it is not as well known, it is much quieter. Even on a summer afternoon, the park was relatively quiet. This was a welcome change from the crowds gathered in the Zoo. It is also a very peaceful place. The premise used to be the palace gardens of Schloss Friedrichsfelde, and it still maintains the feeling of serenity. It is a bit more out of the way than Berlin Zoo, which lies smack in the heart of Charlottenburg near a major train station.
It seems that many animal habitats were larger than those in the Zoo. There are fewer animals in the Tierpark in a much larger space, leaving a lot more room for enclosures. Most of the enclosures are also tucked away among the trees, which gives the place a very natural feel. In general, the animals seem a lot less bored and listless than they do at Zoo.
Tierpark is surprisingly easy to get to. It has its own stop on the U5 (“Tierpark”) and the station takes you right across the street from the entrance. Several trams and buses also stop right at the front door. We went by bike, and the ride from Prenzlauer Berg was straightforward and hassle-free.
My boyfriend and I spent a sunny Monday there during the last week of August. I forgot my camera, but I snapped a few pictures with my phone. If you live in Berlin and you’ve never been before, I encourage you to check it out. If you’re visiting the city and want a quieter alternative to the Berlin Zoo, I highly recommend it.
You can visit the Tierpark’s website here!