Birds in German Zoos, Part II


Editor's note: Josef Lindholm made his first trip to Germany, for 73 days, in April and May 2008, in the company of his wife, Natalie, who had been there once 70 years before. Among the nine zoos they visited, they saw well over 800 species and subspecies of birds, perhaps closer to 7,000, of which at least 770 were birds he had never seen in captivity before. This is the second part af his report on their trip.

Erlebnis-Zoo Hanover

Erlebnis means experience, and that is what the current administration of the Hanover zoo promises to deliver to its visitors. More then most European collections, this 145 year old, 54 acre zoo in Lower Saxony has come to resemble a theme park, designed to immerse people in exotic adventures. I was amused to see that part of this "immersion" involves numerous signs in English in the "Sarnbesi" (African) and "Dschungelpalast" (Indian) experiences. There will be many more in the soon to be completed "Yukon Bay," where along with Polar Bears, caribou, seals, and wolves, visitors will find the "The Northern-most Penguin Zoo in the World." To explain the presence of penguins in Alaska, the designers of this exhibit have concocted the story of Captain Henry Charters, en route to California from (!) South Africa, who ran his "Yukon ~een" aground, and then decided to convert his ship into "Henry's Underwater World," where along with his penguin cargo, Polar Bears and pinnipeds will be viewed from beneath glass ceilings.

From the 1920's into the 1960's the Hanover Zoo served as the show room of the animal dealing firm Ruhe, with most of the animals available for sale to zoos and circuses. This led to an emphasis on "charismatic megavertebrates." The rise of the not far away Vogelpark Walsrode in the 1960's did not encourage the development of a major bird collection. However, birds are very much in evidence.

"Sambesi," could be considered a sort of Disney jungle boat ride with real animals. Visitors travel in low-riding boats past Hippos, Giraffes, Black Rhinos, Impalas, and such rarities as Somali Wild Asses and Red Hartebeest (Hanover has been famous for African Antelope for a very long time). Birds are everywhere: South African Ostriches, East African Crowned Cranes, breeding Stanley Cranes, Cattle Egrets, Great Cormorants, African Wood Storks, and Marabous. Somewhat more than half of the flock of nearly a hundred Flamingos are Chilean (which breed), most of the rest being Old World Greater, with a few Caribbeans. The many ducks are from everywhere. Our friend, the zoo enthusiast extaordinaire and Koeln Zoo Okapi keeper Peter Zwanzger, told me that Carsten Zehrer, Hanover's Biologist, had made a point of creating flocks of especially attractive waterfowl, with an emphasis on males, to create a spectacle. I was especially pleased to see a group of Maned Geese (or Australian Wood Ducks). Not far away from the boat ride is an exhibit for Old World White Pelicans. More Ducks can be seen in the "Jungle Palace," an ornately decorated Indian ruins, with marketplace, which may remind American of Disney Animal Kingdom's "Anandapur"

Elsewhere, are exhibits for Snowy, Great Gray, and European Eagle Owls, the...



Bruslund Jensen, S. (2007) Walsrode Birdpark. AFA Watchbird 34 (No. 4): 50-51.

Low, R. (2007) A century of parrots.

Isignis Publications.