For those who like animals, the Artis Zoo in Amsterdam is an amazing place to spend a beautiful day in! You really feel like you're in an oasis of peace at the heart of the city. At Artis Zoo, one can easily relax and only hear the animals living there, which are up to 700 species!
Artis is short for Natura Artis Magistra which comes from the Latin phrase, “Nature is the Teacher of Art”. This zoo is actually the oldest one in the Netherlands. Founded in 1838 by the three Ws (Gerard Westerman, J.W.H. Werlemann and J.J. Wijsmuller) it is still as enchanting as it was nearly two centuries ago. You can definitely see it through its amazing buildings which have endured the test of time: the Museum (1855), the Library (1867) and the Aquarium (1882). These are all stunning buildings that you can easily appreciate for their beauty and heritage.
The Museum houses some of the most interesting scientific collections from the early 19th century as well as a number of exhibitions. The light evokes a mysterious as well as scary atmosphere which somehow, transforms the building into something magical. The Aquarium’s large room is also an incredible place. It feels like you’re underwater due to the blue light from the aquariums that are also filled with the colors of the fishes, shells and corals. Outdoors, there are several makeshift habitats for different, yet interesting animals. From there you’ll get to be up close with the bears, elephants, penguins, and a big variety of birds, which I think are all cute and charming animals.
It’s also easy to get distracted with the shenanigans of the monkeys and apes – and then you realize that you’ve already been there for a long time and you still have a lot of ground to cover. I really find them to be funny, very amusing animals. I also love big cats. I find all felines to be stunning animals: lions, leopards, tigers, the lynx, and the lovely black panther. The patched giraffes and striped zebras also help make us appreciate how splendid nature is. Sadly, the beautiful and curious-looking quagga is already extinct. The last quagga actually lived in Artis ’til it died in 1883.
What you will find in the indoor habitats are the huge crocodiles, turtles, as well as other weird reptiles and insects. There are a lot of interesting information available about the animals and it’s all presented in a very appealing manner, with interactive screens and other forms of entertainment. In addition to the awesome habitat areas, you can also visit the Geological Museum, Planetarium, and the Butterfly Pavilion.
In the Butterfly Pavilion there are over a thousand butterflies flying freely in the tropical interior with about 1000m2 of space. As you wander along the paths of this colorful indoor garden, all kinds of butterflies are flying around you. Depending on the season, there can be between 20 to 30 kinds of butterflies. Just be careful because they tend to fly around and would sometimes even land on your camera! (my shiny Diana was no exception) Oh, and don’t forget to look at the mirror before you leave!
One of my passions is to visit zoos in different cities, even if sometimes I’m a bit apprehensive with what I might find. Anyway, here at Artis, the animals are treated well, you can see that they are all happy and healthy. The Artis Zoo is open daily from 9am to 6pm. During the months of June, July, and August it is open even on Saturday evenings ’til sunset when they also hold special programs.
(Written by an animal lover who hopes that one day, all animals will be treated with respect.)
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