Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia, had an extensive collection of animals, acquired personally or as gifts from others. His son, who inherited his throne, did not share this passion. Thanks largely to the efforts of Martin Hinrich Lichtenstein, a professor at the Berlin University, animals, land and buildings were donated by the king and in 1844, the zoo was opened.
The zoo developped and grew over the next almost hundred years before the war took its toll on even the animals here. In 1939, there were over 4,000 animals. By the end of two bombings, and the subsequent battle for Berlin, only 91 were still alive.
Dr Katharina Heinroth took on the task of reconstruction, and despite the challenges of the East German communist regime, and later reunification, this zoo has grown to become the attraction that it is today.
We arrived on the morning of our third day of our vaction in Germany and discovered how difficult it could be to find parking. However, after a some circling, we were lucky and were able to begin our visit.
If you come, dedicate the whole day. It really is quite large, and there is much to see. I didn't find it as annoying commerical as some zoos I've attended, and despite the heat of the day, most of the animals appeared to be coping well, and all appeared in good health, and good spirits. In all, we enjoyed our time here and would likely return.