Exiting from one of the oldest subway systems in the world, you enter Budapest’s City Park. Home to the world’s third oldest zoo, and Europe’s second oldest, the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden. Founded in 1866, the Budapest Zoo’s 11 hectares is littered with majestic, award-winning Art Nouveau designed buildings such as their newly renovated Elephant House and the Palm House that was built by the Eiffel Company of Paris.
Approaching the entrance to the zoo your are immediately drawn in and awed by the grand entrance featuring two large stone elephants that you walk through and under a beautiful dome; all reflecting the beauty that lies within its walls. Even though the Budapest Zoo is small compared with some of the more world-renowned zoos, it is still very much worth the visit. Housing over 1,500 specimens representing 350 species, the Budapest Zoo has a lot to offer including; an aquarium, a butterfly garden, two new aviaries, a palm tree house and a children’s petting area and playground.
Many of the exhibits and enclosure were well laid out and naturalistic. The Budapest Zoo is home to a variety of primates from the smallest, the pygmy marmoset to gorillas and siamangs to mandrills. As per usual with squirrel monkeys they were bouncing, jumping and zipping around from branch to branch. I’m surprised I could even catch a shot. One of my favourite exhibits was a walk-through forested enclosure that housed a couple different species of tamarians, some even with babies riding piggy back. They were so close as they jumped around us, even letting us gawk closely at their young. Nothing gets better than total immersion in an exhibit.
With back to back births, the Budapest Zoo boasts the first and second ever white rhino calves conceived through artificial insemination. The first was in early 2007, named Layla, and I was fortunate enough to be there for her first introduction to the public. We couldn’t tear ourselves away as Layla, who seemed to be all head and not sure how to manage it yet, as she romped around, then shied away. She was full of personality! We saw many baby animals on our visit, from Layla to a sweet lion cub and a white, ubber fuzzy camel. Other notable births are their endangered Persian leopard triplets and Asian elephant calves.
The Budapest Zoo is involved with conservation of the Carpathian basin (the region in which Budapest, Hungary is located) and the hundreds of animals that live there. One of their conservation programs involves the Hungarian meadow viper which is the most endangered species in Hungary. Another big job is the Danube program, with the help of WWF Hungary, where their main goal is avoiding river poisoning and protecting its native species. The Zoo also participates in breeding programs for endangered native and exotic species. The Zoo is also an internationally recognized primate centre with over 200 inhabitants.
So whether you’re looking for history, old world charm, an animal experience or simply a great place to take the children, the Budapest Zoo is truly an enchanting place to visit.
To read more about my visit to Budapest please visit “The World As I See It” – my travel blog @ http://ladystravelblog.wordpress.com