After driving around in circles for what seemed hours (but was only a few minutes), we found a parking garage and parked. Phew! Glad that was over..We’d been following our friend through the modern and very clean city of Karlsruhe – trying not to lose him, while at the same time making sure we were not running red lights or breaking the law! (Karlsruhe is located 50km south of Heidelberg)
For a city this large it was strange to see plenty of parked cars by the side of the road but few people actually walking about. Street after street of parked cars, but there was no inclination that there could possibly be a park – let alone a zoo in this neighbourhood. Once we’d parked the car, we came out of the underground garage into a large open plaza surrounded by buildings. On the far side were a few trees and off we went towards them – still wondering how they’ve managed to hide a zoo in the middle of the city. We got to the trees and there it was the entrance – to a park. Through the gates we could see people slowly walking about enjoying the beautiful autumn afternoon.
Once we’d gone through the admissions gate (the south entrance) we got to see the full extent of this unique space right in the middle of the city. To the left we could see what looked like the zoo and as we got closer there was a petting zoo for the kids where they could pet rabbits, guinea pigs and other small creatures all mixed together in the one little pen.
To the right we could see people riding in boats or gondolettas. There are two small lakes inside the park and the gondolettas slowly move around the edge of the lakes, not far from shore. They are on tracks so you can’t steer them, but they make for a very relaxing 40 minutes or so ride around the park. The cost for the ride is €2 for ½ a ride or €3.50 for a round-trip (children’s cost are: €1 & €1.50). You purchase the tickets at the “Karls” cafe inside the park.
The zoo is moderately large, but doesn’t compare to the Frankfurt or Stuttgart zoos, but it does have some special attractions. There is an artificial mountain – the Lauterberg Mountain that is both the highest peak in Karlsruhe and a memorial for the 49° N parallel that runs through the zoo.
Adjacent to the Snow Leopard display in the “mountains of the Himalayas” area is an enclosure for the Red Panda, and the Chinese Muntjac – a small species of deer from the Central Asian region. In another area known as the “African Savannah,” there is the Persian gazelle – the largest breeding group of its kind in Europe, as well as three large enclosures with Giraffes, Elephants, Caribou, Ostriches, Zebras, Antelope, Rhinos and Cattle. Opened in 2001, the Polar Bear enclosure includes a large pool with two underwater windows, allowing visitors to see the polar bears swimming and diving.
Inside the Karlsruhe Zoo there is a restaurant, two kiosks/cafe’s for a bite to eat, and playgrounds for children. We stopped for a quick snack and had Belgian Waffles with Nutella (HIGHLY recommended) at one of the vendors set up within the park.
So, is it a park with a zoo or a zoo with a park?
It’s both – and that’s the way it was designed right from the beginning. The gardens are very thoughtfully planned out, with many places for sitting, relaxing, and enjoying the shade that the many trees provide. It’s easy to spend 2-3 hours wandering the grounds without getting bored while watching the free-roaming peacocks, ducks and swans.
About The Zoo
Opening times vary throughout the year, so please see the web site before visiting.
The central train station is very close to the zoo, so it’s easy to get there even without a car. The Karlsruhe Zoo was founded in 1865 and is one of the oldest zoos in Germany. The zoo and gardens cover an area of 22 hectares (54 acres) and has around 150 different types of animals, with about 800 actual animals living there. The zoo has a worldwide reputation of successfully breeding polar bears. The animal enclosures are intentionally rough and uncultivated in a natural forest floor. You can bike, walk and even take the dog (on a leash).
Web Site: www.karlsruhe.de/b3/freizeit/zoo.de
Address: Ettlinger Straße 6, 76137 Karlsruhe, Germany
Phone:+49 721 1336815
Ticket Prices: (Rate Of Exchange: €1 = $1.35 U.S. (as of October 2013))
Adults – €6.50 / Retirees, pensioners, disabled people – €5.50
Students over 15 years, military – €4.50 / Children (6-15 years) – €3.00 / Children under 6 years – Free
Adults – Round Trip €3.50 / Half Trip €2.00
Children (from 6 years) – Round Trip €1.50 / Half Trip €1.00