We love animals, be it the furred, the feathered or the scaly. Despite this, it took us six years to visit the Antwerp Zoo, (Zoo Antwerpen in Dutch). It was six years too many.
Established in 1853, the Antwerp Zoo is the oldest zoo in Belgium and, in fact, is one of the oldest zoos in Europe. In 1983, both the architecture and gardens of the zoo were declared a historic monument.
I have to admit, the zoo’s age played a part in my hesitance to visit. I’ve been to several European city zoos, one of my favourites being Amsterdam’s Artis, but sometimes their smaller size and age leads to cramped animal enclosures and run-down facilities.
I needn’t have worried. Despite its small size (10.5 hectares or 26 acres), relative to some of the enormous North American zoos, the animal habitats seem spacious and the zoo is constantly being updated and renovated. In fact, since my photos were taken last summer, a new lion habitat has been unveiled.
The Antwerp Zoo has a daily schedule of activities and shows and has many education programs for students. It is one of the world’s leading zoos for research and education and is involved in many wildlife preservation programs.
But let’s face it, when it comes to visiting a zoo, we all expect interesting animals and exhibits and the Antwerp Zoo definitely scores well on this account. We particularly enjoyed: Vriesland (Freezeland), the penguin enclosure; Nocturama, an exhibit of nocturnal animals, including an enormous fruit bat; and our usual favourites the monkey house and the big cats. There is also a particularly interesting bird exhibit where there are no cages.
The Antwerp Zoo has been particularly current with social media in the past few years and they regularly release updates on their Facebook Page, have streaming video to some of their exhibits and when a new zoo baby is born, there is a media frenzy.
The best thing about the Antwerp Zoo is how easy it is to get to. It is located just outside the doors of the Antwerpen Centraal train station. There is no need to worry about driving in the city or finding a parking spot.
But I’m sure you’re eagerly awaiting the photos of cute animals, so without further ado, here are a few of my favourites from our trip to the Zoo Antwerpen:
Intrigued and want to know more about a visit to Antwerp? Visit our Slow Travel Antwerp & Mechelen page for even more things to see and do around this beautiful city. You can also subscribe to our newsletter for slow travel inspiration from around the world.