Review - Duisburg Zoo

This is my first review on this blog. I hope there will follow more in the future, but let's start with this one.

Duisburg Zoo

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August 9, 2o13. Today I visited the zoo in Duisburg, a relatively big zoo with a big collection of animals ranging from the only Amazon river dolphin outside South America to koalas. I entered the park around 1.30 PM, the entree fee was surprisingly low (which is because German zoos get more funds from the goverment than most other countries).

The first animals I saw at the zoo were the giraffes who shared an exhibit with some ground hornbills, kept in a pretty nice paddock with a spacious and nicely themed stable. There was also a cage with weavers in the stable. Next I walked towards the elephant paddock, which was a little small for my taste. The stables were again, just like the giraffe stables nicely themed.

Queensland Koala

After visiting those big African animals, I wanted to see the animal which was the main reason I wanted to visit Duisburg Zoo, the Amazon river dolphin. As I walked towards the Rio Negro tropical hall I walked past an enclosure for giant river otters. While the enclosure itself looked quite nice, the water was murky which made it impossible to view the otters underwater. After I was done watching the playful otters, I entered the Rio Negro hall, which was really nice. It was small but the theming was (once again) nice and the tank in which Baby, the Amazon river dolphin lived was spacious. There were also several animals free-ranging through the hall, under which toucans and tamarins.

Next up was the aquarium (connected to the Rio Negro), probably my least favourite part of the zoo. I didn't take the time to walk past  all of the (few) tanks because the water was kinda dirty (and so was the glass) and because the species inside were kinda boring. Next to the exit of the aquarium was an indoor enclosure for the giant otters (one of  two, the other one is off-show but visible on a webcam). It looked nice and it would have fit in well with the Rio Negro theme, where it would have looked way better than inside the aquarium.

After that I walked towards the spectacled bear enclosure, while passing nice spacious enclosures for giant tortoises and small-clawed otters. The bear enclosure only opened recently and it was one of the nicest exhibits for spectacled bears I had seen. It was very lush and green and the animals were viewable from at least 5 viewing points.

Going on I strolled past the clouded leopard enclosures, while the enclosures were nicely planted and had lots of logs and stuff for the animals to climb on it was very hard to actually spot the animals. As much as I like all the lush foliage, I would enjoy being able to spot the animals. I had to come back at least 6 times, what the regular zoo visitor doesn't do, to actually see the animals.

After walking past a paddock for wisents and black storks, the pheasantry was up next. Instead of the usual aviaries these were walkthrough aviaries, which was very pleasing. What I found less pleasing was the fact some birds were in the wrong aviaries (for example a turaco in the one for tragopans). Next to the pheasantry was a paddock for porcupines, guineafowls, marabou storks and vultures. While I enjoyed watching the odd mix I would have prefered seeing the animals in an aviary instead of the birds having their wings clipped. 

As I strolled further I passed a decent paddock housing red river hogs and watusi cattle, another one housing zebras and rhinos, some aviaries and an enclosure housing raccoons. The last one were nowhere to be found though.

Eastern Bongo

Next was a quite empty exhibit housing European wolverines, the wolverines were nowhere to be found which probably meant they were inside their indoor dens as their were almost no opportunities to hide inside the enclosure. I personally think it would have looked better with more foliage.

Walking further past a nice enclosure for a small group of wolves I reached the sea lion enclosure, which was pretty much a standard enclosure. A concrete pool with a rockwall behind. The next enclosure for seals was much worse though, debatable one of the worst exhibits in the zoo. The pool was concrete and very shallow, the enclosure itself was small and most of the space was land.

Strolling past an aviary housing lynxes (which I didn't see, even though the aviary was not that big), a reindeer paddock and a mandrill enclosure with a very ugly mural I reached the Australia house. Inside were the koalas, in a fairly decent enclosure, especially considering koalas almost don't move. In a glassfronted building connected to the building holding the koalas were a goodfellow's tree kangaroo, some echidnas and some other animals. An outdoor enclosure for the tree kangaroo would have been nice but the situation seemed okay. Next to the building is an outdoor yard for the koalas, which they share with wombats when outside, I saw no wombat in there whatsoever, even though I revisited the enclosure at least 5 times. I didn't see the other wombats, which share a much bigger enclosure with emus and wallabies either. 

Going on I passed the kori bustards, another species of bird which had their wings clipped, who shared an enclosure with kirk's dikdiks. Walking further I passed a decent enclosure for tapirs and anteaters on my way to the carnivore house. The carnivore house housed fishing cats in a fairly decent enclosure (especially considering the size of the species), Malayan binturongs, dwarf mongooses and African lions. Even though the lion outdoor enclosure was quite small, I think it was of a fairly nice size considering there were only two lions living in it.

Next to the carnivore house are some connected aviaries housing European wild cats, though the aviaries seemed quite old and outdated they were good enough for such a small species of cat. In front of the lion exhibit lies the entrance to the fossa exhibit, which consists of two glassfronted aviaries that can be connected. The aviaries were spacious, had plenty of climbing opportuntities and they allowed the animals to come close to the visitors (I have never been this close to those wonderful euplerids before). 

Also found on the island of Madagascar are the red ruffed lemurs, black-and-white ruffed lemurs and ringtailed lemurs that share a walkthrough island. Even though I don't exactly like the combination of species I must admit this was one of the best lemur enclosures I have ever seen. Visitors were given the ability to come very close to the lemurs, yet the lemurs had plenty of space to climb and plenty of vegetation to hide in. Duisburg Zoo houses both species of ruffed lemurs together even though they could crossbreed. I asked a zookeeper which was present in the enclosure about this and she told me that the groups of ruffed lemurs kind of rivalise and would therefore not breed, yet there was one hybrid ruffed lemur present in the red ruffed lemur group.

Black-and-White Ruffed Lemur

Now I had gone through the first part of the park, I crossed the highway over the bridge leading to the other part of the zoo. On the edges of the bridges there were lots of plants, hiding the highway away from view, which I really liked.

The first thing I visited in the second part of the park was the primate house, which also held pygmy hippos. The first thing I saw was a nicely planted gibbon island adjacent to a nice enclosure for pygmy hippos  If you walked a little further from the house's entrance you walked past the outdoor enclosures for orang utans, king colobuses, white cheeked gibbons and lion-tailed macaques. These outdoor enclosures were way too small in my opinion, but only just several minutes later I discovered they should be happy with this space, considering the geladas, debrazza's monkeys, white-handed gibbons, siamangs, diana monkeys and a hand full of South-American monkeys had no outdoor access. They were deemed to live their lives in small concrete indoor enclosures. The animal which probably had most space in the primate house was the sloth, which could climb over the visitors using ropes. Going outside the primate house I come across an aviary holding various birds and another outdoor enclosure for another group of king colobuses. Walking a little further you'll discover the decent sized outdoor gorilla enclosure, which is probably the nicest enclosure which is a part of the primate house.

As I noticed it was almost 4 PM I walked towards the Dolphinarium, as I was curious to see Duisburg's dolphin show. While walking towards it I came across several enclosures including ones for greater kudus, bongos, red pandas, cranes and African wild dogs. I heard one of their wild dogs recently escaped and I could see why. The dry moat was not that wide and I am kinda sure that if the dog would feel like it, she would be able to jump over the moat again. The wild dog enclosure also featured a cableway used to hang meat on during feeding presentation, I thought this was quite a nice and enriching way of giving the wild dogs their food.

When nearing the dolphinarium, I walked past a decent sized enclosure for Siberian tigers. Once in the stadium I felt like the pool was way too small for the 9 bottlenose dolphins Duisburg houses. After watching the dolphins for a while, the show started. While the tricks they did were very basic, I enjoyed the fact there was no loud music playing in the background and the fact the trainer educated the public about bottlenose dolphins. After a while I got bored and left the show.

Indochinese Clouded Leopard

Walking further I came across an enclosure for muntjacs, in which I suprisingly also found two species that don't belong there, a stray cat and a brown rat. I can't really blame the zoo for the presence of rats and cats though as the zoo is built near a big city.


What I probably liked most in Duisburg was how lush it was, even though it was really close to a big city. All the enclosures were nicely planted and green. Another thing I loved was the fact you were able to come close to most of the animals. Also lots of the enclosures had small dry moats instead of fencing, making photography a lot easier.

My biggest point of critique is probably the primate house, while it houses a big and very interesting collection of primates the enclosures are way too small. I hope more species will recieve outdoor enclosures in the future, as currently more than half of the species kept in are housed indoors.

Overall Duisburg was really worth the visit, the collection was outstanding and the atmosphere in the park was great. Therefore I would really recommend you to visit it if you ever are near it.

Note: All pics in this review were taken by me, do not republish, edit or use them without my written permission.

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