Zoo is the name of a Berlin train station (Bahnhof Zoo) and the zoological garden (Zoologischer Garten) nearby. Let’s talk about the station first. Zoo used to be West Berlin’s main station in the city center. Long distance trains and major S-Bahn and U-Bahn lines crossed here. Zoo also function as some sort of city center which is difficult in a city that doesn’t have a centralised structure as such.
Nearby are the famous Gedächtniskirche (Memorial Church) and – for most Berliners much more important – West Berlin version of the Champs-Élysées. I am talking about the famous Kurfürstendamm. Ku’damm as it is called by the locals is full of shops, hotels, cinemas restaurants and houses. It’s a relatively nice avenue. It extends to Tauentzienstr. And Wittenbergplatz where you would find the famous Kaufhaus des Westens which basically is a shopping mall but so much more. It’s worth seeing.
Especially in the 1970ies Bahnhof Zoo was rather infamous for the people it attracted. At the rear of the station drug addicts would hang out, prostitutes and runaways met here. Today it still is a popular meeting place for subcultures but not nearly as bad as it was back then.
The main sight in this area of course is the zoological garden. It is located in Tiergarten only a few meters from the train station. It allegedly is the most famous zoo in all in the country. While I am not sure about Berlin Zoo for sure is the oldest zoological garden in Germany. It was founded in 1844.
Part of its appeal to visitors is the aquarium. It was added in 1913 and is quite impressive. Zoo and aquarium attracted an impressive 3 million visitors in 2011 making it one of the most visited zoos in the world.
All together the zoo is home to 17500 animals representing 1500 different species. Most famous is the Panda Bao Bao. It is the only Giant Panda in a German zoo and by now the oldest living in any zoo in the world. He came as a present of the Chinese gouvernment to the back then chancellor Helmut Schmidt. Together with him came a female (Tjen Tjen) who died in 1984. A second female Panda (Yan Yan) that was brought from China for breeding purposes died in 2007. Despide many attempts including artificial insemination they never produced any offspring.
Another famous resident was the little polar bear Knut. He was born in the zoo and rejected by his mother. Instead he was raised by zoo keepers. His story turned in to a global media phenomenon. Visitor numbers went through the roof. In 2011 Knut suddenly collapsed and died. He was suffering from encephalitis.
Update: Bao Bao, the Giant Panda that has lived in Belin Zoological Garden since 1980, died on August 22nd 2012.
FACTS ABOUT ZOO:
- Zoo is the name of a Berlin train station and the Zoological Garden nearby.
- The train station became famous with the controversial movie “Die Kinder von Berlin Zoo” (The children from Berlin Zoo).
- Berlin Zoological Garden is the oldest and best known zoo in all of Germany.
- The Zoological Garden first opened its gates August 1, 1844.
- The Berlin Zoological Garden apparently is the zoo in Europe that attracts most visitors.
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