Diergaarde Blijdorp – Rotterdam Zoo
In 2007 the Diergaarde Blijdorp, a zoo in the northwestern part of Rotterdam, celebrated its 150th anniversary and is recognized as one of the oldest zoos in the Netherlands. As a member of both the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and the Dutch Zoo Federation (NVD), Diergaarde Blijdorp maintains high standards with the emphasis on the wellbeing of its residents. Moreover, the zoo participates in around seventy international breeding programs, acting as the coordinating body for a number of these conservation initiatives, including programs for Red Pandas, Komodo Dragons, Red-crowned Cranes, Siberian Cranes, Asian Elephants, Visayan Warty Pigs, Crowned Pigeons and Egyptian Tortoises.
The zoo initially opened in 1857 but was destroyed, along with most of the city center, during the World War II bombing of Rotterdam. It was rebuilt on a nearby site are reopened in 1940 under the name of Blijdorp. In 2001 an aquarium was added to the zoo complex and it was given National Heritage status in 2007. Called Oceanium, the aquarium recreates a number of different underwater environments including Bass Rock, North Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean, The Antilles, Falklands, Galápagos, Sea of Cortez and Californian Kelp Sea, and is home to hundreds of marine animals.
Animals at the zoo are housed in enclosures with the terrain carefully landscaped to be as close to their natural environment as possible, while at the same time ensuring that visitors are able to view the animals with ease. Animals from around the world are quite at home at the zoo and improvements are being made all the time. The latest features of the zoo include a bridge-type pathway past a group of crocodiles and allows for an eye-to-eye encounter with giraffes, as well as a view of other animals from Africa, such as kudus, ostriches, zebras and hyenas. Among the newest additions to the zoo are two Asian lion cubs born on 13 November 2011, making their public debut on 22 February 2012.
Welcoming around 1.5 million visitors every year, Diergaarde Blijdorp is one of the biggest attractions in the Netherlands and is definitely well worth visiting when exploring the city of Rotterdam.