Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Artis: Amsterdam's City Zoo
In 1838, the Artis Zoo was founded in Amsterdam. Since then, it has expanded to create a thriving oasis in the heart of the city. Where else in the world can you see zebras against a backdrop of 17th century canal houses?
A few weeks ago, I decided to take a day trip to the zoo. This truly is a city zoo, located right in downtown Amsterdam. Just a bit outside the "center", it is only a 20 min walk from Centraal Station. Passing through the golden eagle gates, which were built in 1854, a EUR17,70 ticket will pay your entrance into the zoo (reduced fees for the elderly and children). If you are used to typical North American zoos, then you are in for a real treat at Artis! Although quite large, there is the illusion of a small neighbourhood as you walk through the meandering cobblestone pathways. Many buildings still remain from the opening of the zoo, showcasing glorious 19th century architecture. One of my favourite buildings is the Neo-Classical aquarium, built in 1882 and recently renovated, which showcases a variety of colourful fish, an exhibition honoring Linneaus, and a plethora of classified crustaceans. The entire zoo will take you about 5 hours to complete, and is definitely worth the trip if you have children! While the zoo may not be on your top list of things to do in Amsterdam, it is worthwhile if you want to see a different side of the city!
My List of Must-Sees at the Artis Zoo:
1. The Apenhuis - Located to the left of the entrance, the Apenhuis remains one of the oldest standing buildings at the zoo. Here you will find spider monkeys, mandrills, squirrel monkeys, and orang-utans. Chimpanzees, gorillas, gibbons, and baboons are located in separate enclosures throughout the zoo.
2. Canal Exhibit - Did you ever wonder what is lurking in Amsterdam's canals? This exhibit in the Aquarium, located at the rear of the zoo, depicts what lives beneath! While it may not be the most beautiful exhibit, it is definitely interesting and unique to the city.
3. Sea Lions - Near the Aquarium you will find the sea lions. Shows and feeding times are available to watch, but these animals are entertaining at any time!
4. Butterfly conservatory - Behind the sea lions you will find the butterfly conservatory. While it may be hot and humid inside, you will be able to walk through paths while butterflies flit from your shoulder to gorgeous exotic flowers!
5.Chimpanzee playground - In the center of the zoo, the chimpanzees are the main focus! A children's playground faces the chimpanzee's playground, and both parties visibly entertain one another!
6. De Twee Cheetahs - This is the zoo's restaurant, located near the African Savannah. As well as housing an enormous play area for children, the restaurant features a wide variety of treats and sandwiches.