Six alternative animal parks in the Netherlands
There are a number of zoos across the Netherlands, catering to a wide range of species and offering different experiences to visitors, but these are more than just your traditional zoo. The Netherlands has loads of animal parks that are either themed, or specialise in certain kinds of animals. So, if you’re interested in a day trip to enjoy some wild animals, but want something a little different, then this list is for you!
Alternative animal parks in the Netherlands
From alpacas, to owls, to dolphins - these parks have it all! Let's look at six funky and alternative animal parks in the Netherlands.
Alphen aan den Rijn
Bird park Avifauna specialises in showcasing - you guessed it - birds. When it opened in 1950, it was the world’s first ever bird park, and continues to be one of the most famous. On a trip to Avifauna, you’ll be able to enjoy practically any and every bird you can think of: storks, penguins, kiwis, ostriches, flamingos - you name itl! There are also a handful of enclosures with other, non-bird animals, including red pandas and the Java mouse-deer.
The animal park also has a restaurant and a large playground for children. There are daily bird demonstrations and so-called feeding talks, and a night safari so that visitors can also enjoy the nocturnal animals.
Avifauna is a not-for-profit park, so all the money made is pushed back into animal welfare.
Source: Stuart's Travel Videos
Dolfinarium Hardewijk is the largest marine mammal park in Europe! Divided into several different areas that cater to different species, the Dolfinarium is home to sea lions, seals, walruses, dolphins, sharks, rays, and much, much more.
There are daily shows for audiences, as well as sessions that allow visitors to get closer to the animals, including Sleeping near dolphins, Swimming with dolphins, and photo opportunities with sea lions and dolphins. The park also offers therapeutic sessions with dolphins for children with autism or down syndrome.
The park also makes an effort to do everything they can to keep their animals happy, healthy and safe. There’s even a FAQ section (in Dutch) on their website all about the wellbeing of the animals, where they answer all your questions and attempt to put any concerns to rest.
Source: Evenementen en Parken
3. Taman Indonesia
Taman Indonesia ("Indonesian Park" in the Indonesian language) is a small animal park that specialises in animals from Indonesia, specifically birds. The park is home to over 50 species of bird, including the incredibly rare Bali starling, as well as small mammals such as the binturong (bearcat), leopard cat, and the Asian palm civet
The park also hosts a number of activities for children, including a workshop to make your own wayang doll and one on Indonesian street food. The park can be booked for birthday parties.
The on-site restaurant serves Indonesian food, and in the souvenir shop you can buy traditional Indonesian images and clothing.
Iguana is a reptile zoo in Zeeland that cares for a number of reptiles, amphibians, and anthropods. Iguana also serves as a foundation to provide shelter to any animals which are abandoned by private owners, or brought into the Netherlands illegally.
Animals brought into the foundation are quarantined upon arrival, before being treated and hopefully returned to their native habitat or country. However, if this isn’t possible, the animals are then offered to zoos or other animal parks where they can be cared for, or they remain in the reptile park.
All profits made from ticket sales for the small permanent exhibition at the park are used to care for the animals that remain at Iguana. The park is home to a wide variety of species, including snakes, crocodiles, lizards, and turtles.
Source: Iguana Leguaan
The DoeZoo may not be for everyone, as it specialises in insects! Located in a village in Groningen, DoeZoo Insect World started life as merely a hobby, but grew into a small animal park and opened its doors to the public in 1998.
DoeZoo is a care zoo, and so provides professional daycare to people with disabilities, and (all) employees in the park suffer from physical or mental disabilities.
The park focuses on insects and insectivorous animal species, but is also home to other animals such as pythons, parrots, and raccoons. You can support the park through donations, or by “adopting” an animal.
Source: Bart Brebels
6. Heierhof Farm Experience
The Heierhof Farm Experience has a little bit of everything! There are a number of activities for visitors, including archery, foot-golf, farm-golf, and covered wagon rides, as well as opportunities for team-building exercises for companies, plus a campsite. But, the farm also has animals!
Spend some quality time with the ostriches, the donkeys, or the alpacas, and go on walks with the animals. You can go on a three-kilometre hike through the local forest with a few alpacas, or a leisurely walk through the Brabandt Kempen with a donkey. You can also attend a talk about ostriches to learn some more about the birds, and help the farmer feed them at the end.
Source: Heierhof Struisvogelboerderij
Zoos and animal parks in the Netherlands
There are plenty of places up and down the country to get in touch with your wilder side. There are also a number of petting zoos that are home to less exotic animals such as goats, deer, chickens, and rabbits, so if you're looking for a fun family day out there are tonnes of options for you. Looking for something a little more conventional? Why don't you check out our list for the five best zoos in the Netherlands!