We’re going to the zoo

Knut the polar bear cub

Do you remember Knut? This was not simply a German phenomenon. He became news around the world. Born in late 2006, Knut brought record numbers of visitors flocking to an already popular zoo. The story was compelling, because he was rejected by his mother and raised primarily by his handler Thomas Dörflein, who sadly died unexpectedly in 2008. Oh, and because he was an adorable little polar bear.

The Zoologischer Garten is located in the Tierpark neighbourhood of what was formerly West Berlin, and you might recognise the nearby S-Bahn Station (Zoo Station) from the title of a U2 song on Achtung Baby. It might be a bit confusing with the name Tierpark if you go to reunified Berlin today, because it’s not only where the Zoologischer Garten is, but the name of the still vibrant Tierpark in former East Berlin. I haven’t been there yet, but I’m certainly curious and willing to visit.

Back to the matter at hand. If you want to know interesting data about this zoo, a good start is the Wikipedia page here. It’s truly a remarkable place. Let me just say that I’m normally pretty hesitant to even go to zoos. They feel like animal prisons to me. I know zoologists are some of the most committed animal lovers, and I respect that they do more for animal conservation than I ever will. Nevertheless, there’s always a pang of regret when I set foot in a zoo. Enough of that…let’s get on to the animals.

Walked by the enclosure where Knut used to live (he sadly collapsed last year and shockingly died). Though there were two grown polar bears sunning themselves on a rock, it seemed somehow empty without little Knut. Please don’t tell those remaining polar bears I said so.

Oh, and I’ve included both a You Tube video I made of the the, as yet, unheralded Moon Jellyfish and the obligatory shot of your sometimes humble blogger. Enjoy…

polar bears taking in a bit of sun
turtles and an crocodile
this school of fish were just going round and round
nothing wrong with a lonely hippo
a tiger doesn't belong behind bars
three slinky slithering snakes curled up with one another
a colourful fish...what more can I say?
two Bald Eagles looking very patriotic despite that they're both Germans
a couple of lions that appear to really like each other
Who says a turtle doesn't have personality? Not me.
This young Russian boy didn't seem at all surprised to be attacked by this agitated bird.
Did someone request penguins?
these curious pigeons had feathers on their talons
little girl has close encounter
and an entire other sort of penguin

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5igamd3Qdew]



  1. Aren’t the penguins supposed to dance or something? Oh, wait. That was Happy Feet. Never mind.

    1. This is why I’m thrilled to have you coming here. I’d no idea what that was. The whole time I was at the zoo, I wrote down crazy animal names that sounded like genetically-engineered hybrids (I thought I’d ask you what that was about at some point)…but those weren’t the most beautiful to photograph.

      So the photos are from the beauty pageant winners of the animal world, rather than from the freaky mix-and-match Franken-critters.

      1. Did you take photos of the Franken-critters? Because now you know I want to see what they look like. You can’t just tease people with Franken-critters, you know. That’s just mean.

  2. I have been waiting all day to comment on this. ALL. DAY. Seriously. I just kept telling myself, you can make it through this workday! You get to go home and comment on the zoo blog! And that helped, some. This is not going to be a short comment. Heads up, world.

    FIRST, thank you for taking us to the zoo. Even if I did sleep through it. I know. I’m the worst with the sleeping through major life events.

    Knut DIED? Holy hell. That’s the worst. I meant to ask you if you saw Knut.

    I don’t know if you’re aware of this. Probably not, since I don’t think I’ve told you. But after penguins, guess what my favorite animal is? No, seriously. Guess! TURTLES! Then frogs. Then all felines. (I guess in case anyone wants to make a scorecard, I don’t know, I’m oversharey, it’s what I do.) You saw TURTLES! Yay! And NO ONE says turtles don’t have personality! OF COURSE they do!!!

    There *is* something wrong with a lonely hippo! He needs a cuddle. Or a teddy bear.

    The tiger is gorgeous. But does that cage look incredibly small? Or is it just the photo?

    I am in love with your patriotic German bald eagles. They’re ex-patriots, is all. They still love Merka. They’re just disillusioned with the current political climate.

    Those lions (adolescent lions, Andreas? You can tell such things? How awesome are you?) are SMILING. I LOVE them.

    That stork looks like death. Like it would be what comes for you when you’re about to take your last breath. It is distressing. Look at that scary face!

    I REQUESTED PENGUINS! ME! Aw, they are awesome! Look at the little one in the front. Just look! It is totally posing for you. It is my favorite. It wants to come home with you so you can ship it to me on dry ice and I can keep it in my freezer and feed it fish and give it hugs and beak-nuzzles.

    The jellyfish were hypnotic. What a great video!

    And YAY for you being a lion! You are not going to be at all surprised that 99% of the zoo photos of me ever taken are me making various animal-faces, right? Probably not. When I go to the zoo in May, expect more of the same.

    This was possibly one of the best posts in the history of posts. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!

    1. First of all, I’m honoured you waited all day to comment. How nice is that?

      Yes, Knut died. It was quite depressing. I was concerned that might be a bit of a downer for those who just learned of Knut, but them’s the breaks, kid.

      I’m a bit mad about turtles. It’s a thing. For years I’ve collected them. And read turtle-related non-fiction. Even when it was dense and a bit incomprehensible. Turtles are sort of my thing, actually.

      Hippos are very aggressive Amy. They look cuddly, but they’ll do horrific damage if you let them. Beware of the hippo.

      Nope, the tiger cage was tiny, but I chatted with one of the zookeepers and he says they let the tigers take turns in the big ‘natural habitat’ enclosure. Apparently, they’re happier on their own, and would attack each other given the chance.

      That was my perspective on the ex-pat Bald Eagles. They keep hoping things will turn around Stateside.

      The lions were so affectionate. Very cool with one another.

      The stork was really angry, and the Russian boy was oblivious. I’m glad his eyes weren’t gouged out while I was taking the photo.

      Yes, the penguins were requested by Amy of @lucysfootball fame. She’s the one responsible for the massive penguin representation on this blogpost. If you don’t like it, talk to her.

      I was entranced by the Moon Jellyfish. Was so pleased I thought to make the video.

      Thought it might be a bit childish to make the lion face. Glad I know my audience. And really pleased it made your day. With this sort of encouragement, you might get me to go to Wildpark Poing soon enough.

      1. I’m totally nice. Were you under the impression I wasn’t? Who gave you that impression, I’ll punch them in the neck.

        Have we discussed this and I’ve forgotten? You know I also collect turtles, right? I feel like we’ve discussed this. Unless it was someone else. Could there be someone else I discussed turtle-collecting with? I totally have a kickass frog-and-turtle collection. I even have hear/see/speak-no-evil turtles on my porch. I don’t know why I’m randomly caught flat-footed when you and I have these weird coincidences, but I always am.

        Hippos will trample you? I had no idea. Well, I’m not giving that hippo a teddy bear NOW.

        You got to CHAT with a ZOOKEEPER? Um, I think I would love that. I would have a million questions. Most of the questions would be, “Have you touched the tigers? What do they feel like? Have they ever licked you? Is their tongue like a cat tongue but bigger? Do they purr?” Then the zookeeper would get a restraining order against me.

        Hee, I have FAME. That’s kind of awesome, right? I’ll take any and all complaints about the penguin representation. I can’t imagine there will be many, though. LOOK AT THOSE LITTLE PENGUINY FACES.

        Childish? Oh, please. I acted like a zombie lying on my own grave back in December. I don’t think you can get more childish than that. It’s what keeps us young. Other people are all going to be scooting around in their Hoverrounds while we’re off adventuring and making crazy faces and such. I’ll rather be childish than dead or in a Hoverround.

        Wait, there’s a chance you might actually VISIT Wildpark Poing? How do I go about encouraging such a thing? Because I’m all over that. I can be even MORE encouraging. I don’t think you’d want to underestimate the lengths I’d go to for a visit to Wildpark Poing.

  3. i think i will like poing better, but as for this post, my special cuddly loving goes to the white teddies. (and this is why i am not allowed near animals, i have no truck with people who say they are -airquotes- killers) however the winning photo has to be the turtles with the crock. the composition is lovely, and and and !!!!! the stories that come into the mind!

  4. I love the video of the jellies. SO much. Seriously, it’s amazing. Every time we go to the aquarium, I spend all my time taking pictures of the jellyfish because they’re my favourite thing there. “Oh, what? The kids are touching rays in the tank? Yeah, I’ll be right there, taking pictures of the jellies.”

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