Amsterdam is home to the oldest zoo in the Netherlands. Grazing zebras and giraffes, chattering red ibises and fluttering butterflies in all colours of the rainbow ─ Artis is home to over 900 animal species amidst stunning 19th-century architecture and gardens full of beautiful plants, flowers and trees. This green oasis in the heart of the vibrant centre of Amsterdam will amaze you.
A visit to Artis promises to be a fun day out for the entire family. In addition to the various animal habitats, the zoo includes several playgrounds and terraces where visitors can relax and enjoy the environment. This charming zoo dates from 1838 and also features impressive monumental buildings, such as the Wolf House, the Aquarium and the Predator Gallery. The doors to Artis open every morning at 9:00 a.m. Ask for a quest map at the entrance which leads children through the park in a fun and playful way.
In 1838, 3 wealthy Amsterdam residents established the Royal Zoological Society Natura Artis Magistra. Initially Artis wasn’t really a zoo; it included a museum, an orangery and a garden which housed a few monkeys, parrots and a Surinam wildcat. Not long after, a panther, hyena, Indian elephant and boa constrictor snake were added to the mix. Nowadays Artis is home to thousands of animals and many other attractions, including a Planetarium, a Butterfly Pavilion, and a savannah for African herbivores.
After entering, you’ll first pass the Camel Field and see the Japanese Macaques on the Monkey Rock. The brave head to the Kerbert terrace where the lions live. These large cats hang around some 20 hours a day but become much more active around feeding time; a spectacle that can be seen daily. Make sure to catch a glimpse of the bright-pink Chilean flamingos in the pond nearby. These beautiful birds owe their vibrant colour to the pink crustaceans they eat.
On the other side of Artis visitors will find a world of colour. In the Butterfly Pavilion, you are surrounded by fluttering butterflies that occasionally rest on bright flowers or even the visitors themselves! If you’re lucky you’ll spot the majestic Morpho butterfly. As one of the world’s largest butterfly species, it can be recognised by its bright blue or green iridescent wings which reflect the light in a unique way.
At the south side of the park is the Aquarium, one of the highlights of Artis. Discover a mysterious underwater world in this impressive 19th-century building. The Amazon tank includes exotic fish in a tropical sea. Further along is the coral reef, a favourite place for sharks. Another tank simulates an Amsterdam canal, where you can see what lies beneath Amsterdam’s murky waters: in addition to a rusty bike, you’ll see indigenous species such as carp, pike and perch.