What if I told you that the best zoo I have ever been to is located just outside of Hamburg, Germany?
What if I told you that I am a former resident of San Diego, a city known for it’s zoo, and I still think the Hamburg Zoo is better. And not just by a little bit. By a lot!
As you enter the Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, Germany you are almost immediately greeted by a herd of friendly elephants. The big, gray, muddy animals are happy to hold out their long trunks in order to receive snacks from visitors, who are allowed to feed them.
I could have spent all day with these fascinating giants, but the girls and I decided to venture out and chose to take a counter-clockwise approach to exploring the park.
Heads up… these photos were taken with a DSLR camera, but without any zoom lens, just the standard factory lens that it came with.
The park itself is massive. It maintains a natural landscape that I have never seen at any other zoo. Green grassy fields sprawl out on either side of dirt walkways; tall trees frame the different exhibits making it feel like you’re really out in nature with the animals.
As we left the orangutan exhibit we crossed an optional foot bridge with (fake) crocodiles swimming beneath us.
Now just because we’re grown, have graduated college, and are beginning our own careers doesn’t mean we’re too old to have some fun at the kids playground, right?? The five of us piled onto this swinging contraption without hesitation and had ourselves an awesome time. You know you would do it too!
Like the grown-up kids at heart that we are, of course one of the highlights of the entire zoo was the gated goat petting area. Being that it was late spring during our visit we got to see many baby goats, including this little guy below.
But I think it’s important to mention that goats are very aggressive, however in a non-violent way. Maybe persistent, stubborn, or tenacious would be more accurate terms to describe their personalities.
TIP: Put any papers away, like your map, before going inside the petting area. I saw some teenage boys feed their map and a tissue to a pregnant goat. It annoyed me enough to say something, and even though they didn’t speak english you can bet they knew I was angry. Just because goats will eat nearly anything doesn’t mean they should.
TIP: grab some nutella crepes (the stand is located across from the goats) after being inside the petting area, as to avoid having the smell all over our hands while trying to pet the little guys and gals. If not, you’re asking to get your fingers nibbled on.
Same with the ponies.
Take it from someone who nearly had their finger chomped off by a pony at age 5. Animals don’t often mean to actually bite you, they smell or see what they think is food and before you know it you’re wishing it was Charlie that had bit your finger instead.
A couple minutes down the road we discovered this sassy seal. He/she put on a good show for us, repeatedly slipping in and out of the water, but not without lounging like a Victoria’s Secret model mid photo shoot. Minus the bikini. Scandalous.
To protect the seal’s privacy I’ll refrain from publishing those indecent pictures. You’re welcome, seal.
I have a theory. Humans are intrigued by marine animals because underwater life is so foreign to life on land. Or what I like to call Reverse Little Mermaid syndrome.Maddie and Rachel played marine biologist before we went off to find Rachel’s favorites, the lions…
Spending a few hours at the Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo was by far the best way to spend time in Hamburg. I highly recommend it to anyone passing through the area. It is accessible by public transport; we took the metro system — exit the red Metro line 2 at the Tierpark Hagenbeck stop — which drops you off just around the corner from the entrance.
The park also has an aquarium connected to it — but you are required to buy a separate ticket for entrance. Inside the aquarium you can see fish, sharks, snakes, spiders, and the best part… there is a Madagascar room! Over 10 lemur monkeys climbing around a space the size of my kitchen, if my kitchen had a super high monkey-filled ceiling. We took pictures with the lemurs on our shoulders, heads, and backs.
I can hardly think of a better way to spend a day in Hamburg. Do yourself a favor and go!