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Copen­hagen Zoo is a typ­i­cal big city zoo, old style. Orig­i­nally built in the out­skirts of the city, but now rel­a­tively close to the city-​centre. It is an old zoo that, as most zoos nowa­days, has been mod­ernised again and again. Every­time try­ing to reach state of the art. Good exam­ples thereof are to be seen across the road in the giraffe, anti­lope enclo­sure and in the zoo’s newest asset, the new ele­phant house.

The new ele­phant house designed by archi­tect Nor­man Fos­ter, was offi­cially for the first time occu­pied by the ele­phants in March 2008. When think­ing of a new ele­phant house the man­ag­ing direc­tor of Copen­hagen Zoo wished for a build­ing not being dark but light and absolutely not a dull con­crete block . Dur­ing a visit to Lon­don in 2001 the newly designed glass dome of the British museum (by Fos­ter) inspired the direc­tor to con­tact Nor­man Fos­ter. So, Fos­ter became the zoo’s archi­tect fot the ele­phant house. And the new build­ing became two self-​sustaining glass domes which pro­vided lots of day­light in the sta­bles leav­ing the vis­i­tor areas in rel­a­tive dark­ness. The out­side enclo­sure faces the Fred­eriks­berg park and the pool is the sole bound­ary between zoo and park at this spot.

But why so ambitous? (source Copen­hagen Zoo web­site): “Many safari parks built sim­ple barns for the ele­phants, and of course the Zoo could have done that too. How­ever, the Zoo is not a safari park with suf­fi­cient space to hide prim­i­tive and sim­ple build­ings from the vis­i­tors. Within its lim­ited area the Zoo needs to ensure that the new houses built also con­sti­tute an expe­ri­ence to the Zoo vis­i­tors with­out com­pro­mis­ing ani­mal wel­fare and the secu­rity of the staff.…. An old, urban zoo is not only work­ing towards nature con­ser­va­tion – the Zoo is also a cul­tural insti­tu­tion on a par with muse­ums and the­atres that pro­vide expe­ri­ences which also includes recre­ation and reflec­tion. This is where good archi­tec­ture plays a role and of which Copen­hagen Zoo has a long tra­di­tion.…. The Zoo believes that good archi­tec­ture adds value to the vis­i­tors’ expe­ri­ence of the ani­mals, just like the well-​designed art museum adds value to the museum’s art col­lec­tion.….. We are con­vinced that Nor­man Foster’s Ele­phant House will attract focus and add value to the Zoo’s group of Asian ele­phants, the exhi­bi­tion and nature con­ser­va­tion.” (see also: The Guardian’s ’ wait till you see our swim­ming pool!’ and pic­ture gallery)

Copen­hagen Zoo is the only zoo out­side of Aus­tralia that has Tas­man­ian Dev­ils in captivity.

Goal: 7000 tigers in the wild

Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.


about zoos and their mis­sion regard­ing breed­ing endan­gered species, nature con­ser­va­tion, bio­di­ver­sity and edu­ca­tion, which of course relates to the evo­lu­tion of species.
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