Zoo savannah environment 10Whether you are traveling as a family with small children, whether you are in the company of friends, or you are considered intrepid lone travelers, when you are visiting a European city and you want to take a break from the chaos of the city without going too far, a trip at the nearest zoo is always a great solution. In fact, whether you are an animal enthusiast, or just curious, the zoo contains within it a world of its own, in which different natural environments seem to coexist in perfect balance. (Obviously, we are referring to zoos with a capital Z, those who treat animals with the respect and care they deserve, not those who improvise themselves 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 we still consider to be of fundamental importance) but also on the feedback expressed directly by those who have already been there in the past.
So get ready for a wonderful journey of discovery in nature accompanied by sly cats, colorful birds, mischievous monkeys, and protected species!
10 . Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, 32 hectares
Zoo savannah environment 10In the south of Great Britain, in the province of Devon, the Paignton Zoo Environmental Park ranks 10th in the ranking of the largest zoos in Europe. Here it is possible to find a large 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 team at Paignton Zoo is led by a very specific mission which is to help the conservation and maintenance of some endangered species. That is why, 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: more than 200
9. Edinburgh Zoo, 33 hectares
Giant panda zoo 9The ninth position in our ranking is occupied by the Zoo of the Scottish capital, Edinburgh . Opened in 1913, this zoo is located just three miles 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 seriously injured and unable to return to their natural habitat. Among these, there 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, they love to spend their time rolling around and eating bamboo, and the infinite sweetness they transmit has always managed to impress both young and old visiting.
- Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
- Number of animals: over 1000
- Number of Species: 171
8 . Zoo Parc de Beauval, 35 hectares
Red panda zoo 8Also in the Zoo Parc de Beauval 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 yourself only to visiting the Pandas: among the species most loved by children, the red panda, the white tiger, the Indian rhino, the alligators, and the Californian seals with their funny poses. In addition to the attempt to make animals closely known, the aim of the French zoo is to raise awareness among visitors by sharing various projects including that of Silent Forest: a project through which the issue of illegal trafficking of plants and animals, unfortunately increasingly widespread in some areas of the world.
- Where is it: Beauval, France
- Number of animals: 10,000
- Number of Species: 600
7 . Zoologischer Garten, 35 hectares
polar bear zoo 7It is the oldest zoo not only in Berlin but even in all of Germany, as well as being considered one of the largest zoos in the world for the 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 symbols par excellence of the zoo, however, is the polar bear (or white bear) which with its 3 meters in length is one of the largest predators in nature (obviously excluding aquatic animals). Inside the Zoologischer Garten, it is also possible to visit the reptile house and the nearby aquarium, which with the enormous pools of fluorescent light will make you feel part of another universe.
(At the zoo entrance, a donation can be made 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
lion zoo 6Let’s go back to England again, this time to Cheshire to visit the sixth largest zoo in the world, with an extension that exceeds 50 hectares: the Chester Zoo is open from 10 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon, and inside are kept the most diverse species, from big African cats to small Arctic penguins. The park is very famous for its mission of environmental protection 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, or the elephant, the lion, the leopard, the buffalo and the rhino), training and education courses for children and adults (much loved by the little ones is theJunior Rangers Training Camp which is usually held on Sunday afternoon), as well as the possibility of organizing your own birthday parties, anniversary, etc. in some specific areas of the zoo. The most awaited moment of the year, however, is the Lantern Festival which takes place from November 23 to December 23, during which the zoo is decorated with lanterns resembling wild animals and specially Christmas scenes are created: it is a unique spectacle which always pleases visitors of all ages.
Location: Cheshire, England
Number of animal specimens: more than 20,000 specimens
Number of Species: 710
5 – Zoo Pairi Daiza, 55 hectares
zoo aquarium 5In the heart of the Cambron-Casteau Abbey, the Pairi Daiza Zoo (formerly called Zoo Paradisio ) is an unforgettable experience for the whole family. Among the more than 5000 specimens present, there are the panther, the Siberian tiger, the giraffe, in addition to the two mascots of the park par excellence, namely the two sweet specimens of giant pandas, Hao Hao and Xing Hui. In addition to this, it is definitely worth visiting this zoo 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 . Also, the Pairi Daiza Zooholds some important European records : here is the largest Chinese garden, the largest Indonesian garden and the largest aviary.
Where is it: Cambron-Casteau, Belgium
Number of animals: about 5000
Number of Species: over 350
4 – Prague Zoo, 58 hectares
gorilla zoo 4In Prague, not far from the Troja castle, there is the city zoo which houses 133 endangered species. In fact, since its opening in 1931, the Prague Zoo has always pursued the goal of preserving endangered species with commitment and perseverance on the part of all the staff , something that we are trying to achieve thanks to continuous development. zoological research, commitment to nature protection and, above all, to educating the public about animal life. It should not be surprising 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
petting zoo 3Also in Berlin, there is another of the largest zoos in Europe. The Tierpark Berlin , in fact, is together with the Zoologischer Garten one of the two zoological parks located in the German capital and very famous all over the world. The zoo is located in the Friedrichsfelde district, and contains over 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 in every corner, the Tierpark Berlin is a pleasant place for a family outing . but also to be able to relax outdoors while being in the city.
Location: Berlin, Germany
Number of animals: 9000
Number of Species: about 1000
2 – Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, 240 hectares
rhino zoo 2The 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 extension (about 240 hectares) it may surprise the fact that the park contains only 700 specimens (belonging to 90 species), yet there is a more than plausible explanation: in fact, within the area it is possible to go on safaris following organized routes, admiring the animals in freedom in their environment. Among these, you will have the opportunity to look closely at some very rare species, such as the black rhino , present in very few specimens in the world. The park also has an area called Dinosaur Forest, where it is possible to proceed on foot to discover the dinosaurs that once populated our planet: the dinosaurs at 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 free park app from the Apple Store, you can experience a virtual reality experience.
Location: Hyte, England
Number of animals: over 700
Number of Species: 90
1 – ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, 242 hectares
zoo butterflies 1Not only the second, but also the first step of our podium is occupied by a zoo located in England, this time however in Whipsnade: it is the ZSL Whipsnade Zoo , belonging to the ZSL Society, an association focused on the worldwide protection of animals and their natural habitat . Recognizable even from a few kilometers away by the silhouette of a large white lion that dominates one of the park’s hills, the 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 on board your car (or the Jumbo Express), the Cheetah Rock, etc. Every day you can watch 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 in the Junior Zoo Academy (for children).