The five best zoos in the Netherlands
The Netherlands might not be a country renowned for its wildlife, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to enjoy! You might be familiar with Artis in Amsterdam - the oldest zoo in the Netherlands - but why not check out one of the other amazing zoos across the country which offer different ways for visitors to experience the wonders of the animal kingdom?
The best zoos and animal parks in the Netherlands
Not sure where to start? Here are five Dutch zoos that are definitely worth a visit.
1. Diergaarde Blijdorp
This zoo in Rotterdam celebrated its 150th birthday in 2007 and is one of the oldest zoos in the Netherlands, boasting well over 180 species of animals. The zoo has won several awards and was named the most beautiful zoo in the Benelux for three consecutive years by independent website ZooSite.
Not only will a trip to Blijdorp feature sights of all the classics - lions and tigers and bears, oh my! - but the zoo is also home to a gorgeous botanical garden and a magical butterfly garden. And if underwater creatures are more your vibe, there’s also an Oceanium which was opened in 2001 and houses sharks, penguins, turtles, and sea lions.
This is a fun one! Apenheul in Apeldoorn is a zoo specialising in apes and monkeys, and many of the furry inhabitants are left to roam around freely. So, you never can be sure what they’re going to do next. The primate park is home to more than 30 different species, including bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans.
Having opened in 1971, Apenheul was the first zoo in the world where monkeys could walk around freely between visitors. But don’t worry, some of the bigger, more dangerous species are still separated from visitors, so it’s perfectly safe.
3. Burgers’ Zoo
Officially called the Royal Burgers’ Zoo, this animal park in Arnhem definitely lives up to its noble title. Founded in 1913 by Johan Burgers, the zoo welcomes around 1,5 million visitors every year, making it a very popular attraction indeed!
Burgers’ Zoo is split into eight separate themes, featuring areas such as Burgers' Safari, Burgers’ Bush (a 1,5-hectare tropical rainforest), and Burgers’ Desert (an indoor desert). And if you’re making the trip with little ones, there is also an indoor- and an adventureland playground for them to enjoy - that is, if they’re not too worn out after seeing all the animals.
Want a fun fact about this zoo? One of Burgers’ elephant residents in the 1960s, Kwimba, enjoyed stealing the handbags of lady visitors and swallowing them whole!
4. Beekse Bergen Safari Park
This zoo is a little different to most in the Netherlands, as it is set up as a safari park, so animals aren’t stuck in small enclosures. Instead, visitors can drive through the park in their own cars or in one of the zoo's safari buses with a park ranger, and see the animals in a more natural environment. There are also boat tours and walking tours on offer, so there’s definitely something for everyone to enjoy.
The park is renowned for its bird show, and also offers the option to book an overnight stay if you really want to make the most of your visit and watch the animals from the balcony of your safari lodge.
And last but most certainly not least, another funky-themed zoo! Aquazoo focuses on - as the name suggests - incredible water mammals. Expect to see polar bears, penguins and crocodiles a-plenty on any trip down to this park in Friesland.
Aquazoo first opened its doors in 2003, and so is the newest zoo on this list. But, back in 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic hit, it was selected as one of the top three destinations in Friesland for a great day out. Make the most of your trip and watch one of the many animal shows on offer, or even enjoy a seal safari. Fun for the whole family!
Enjoy a wild day out with the family
These zoos and parks offer a taste of what the natural world has to offer, so why not make the most of the nice weather and enjoy a day out with family or friends to see these wild creatures in action, and learn more about them!