Stockholm Aquarium is located on the premises and part of one of the world’s oldest open-air museums, Skansen, which was founded in 1891. Skansen, consists of historical buildings and dwellings that provide a sense of Swedish history. The Aquarium comprises many species exotic to Sweden’s fauna, and it is obviously an add-on to the original idea of Skansen’s founder Hazelius to show only indigenous species in the museum’s Zoo. The ‘Akvariet’ is operated by another organisation, which explains the additional admission fee – on top of the Skansen admission fee – that is charged for this small but nevertheless interesting zoo (the name aquarium is misleading).
Although part of the Akvariet – at least that is what I assume because it houses exotic species as well – ‘Our Africa’ is free of charge. It is a separate building across from the Akvariet with an outdoor and indoor enclosure for black-and-white colobus monkeys. Besides these monkeys it has African bird species on display. The indoor part is atypical because the terrace, that is separated from the colobus monkey enclosure by large viewing windows, functions as a walk-through aviary as well. The African birds (St. Helena waxbill, orange-cheeked waxbill and yellow-fronted canary) fly around freely and are nesting in this area. They seem at ease and not too much disturbed by the constant stream of visitors. In addition to the flying birds there’s a terrestrial bird (Harlequin quail) as well using the terrace as its domain. It is roaming around freely in the area between the viewing windows and the small fence that keeps the visitors from coming too close. The black-and-white colobus monkey (Colobus guereza) are housed together with black-cheeked lovebirds. The monkey enclosure itself contains many climbing enrichment features, such as ropes, tree trunks and some high level platforms. I have seen three specimens of the colobus monkey, which is a rather low number for a species that live in territorial groups of about 9 individuals on average.
Apart from the colobus monkey outdoor enclosure there are two other outdoor exhibits. Both are part of the Akvariet complex. One of them is the ring-tailed lemur walk-through enclosure you are able to see from outside without entering the Akvariet. But it is empty during my visit because the ring-tailed lemurs do not like the cold and therefore it is closed. The other one, the hamadryas baboon rock, requires that you enter the Akvariet. The baboons have a choice to be in or out, and it must be because of the ‘scenery’ in the outdoor exhibit that the baboons brave the cold. It is a scene that could come right out of an ‘Indiana Jones’ movie with a four-wheel drive jeep crashed on a partly demolished bridge. It provides a variety of climbing enrichment.
But before you arrive here you pass the entrance to the, now closed, ring-tailed lemur walk-through, and two mixed species exhibits. One with red titi monkeys, pygmy marmosets and Hoffman’s two-toed sloths, and the other one with golden lion tamarins and common iguana. The tamarins are taking part in a reintroduction programme in Brazil. Both enclosures have viewing opportunities all around, wood chip bedding, lots of climbing enrichment and nebulizers to create the moist environment that resembles South-America’s jungle. Considering the numerous youngsters to be seen the breeding track record within the collection of small primates seems good.
Next, after the baboon rock, you enter the original Akvariet building which starts with an interesting collection of reptiles, such as the Caiman lizard (Dracaena guianensis), rhinoceros ratsnake (Rhynchophis boulengeri), sedge viper (Atheris nitschei), Wagler’s pit viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri), the eyelash viper (Bothriechis schlegelii) and more. The setup is spacious with large vivariums. Following the path you enter a room with small species (birds, reptiles and mammals) that live in hot and dry habitats – deserts.
Then, again a walk-through primate exhibit follows with white-faced saki and cotton-top tamarin. This small example of a rainforest is not really fit for tall people to walk through, but this could be the whole idea behind it. After all, a real jungle is also not easy to navigate and to walk through. There’s also a lot of attention paid to educate the visitor about the threats to rainforest ecosystems worldwide.
From the rainforest exhibit you walk to a mixed zone with fish and reptile exhibits. There’s even a very special enclosure with a turtle pool, alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) and matamata turtle (Chelus fimbriata), and Goeldi’s monkeys living in the tree trunks above it. Other eye catchers are the tank with four-eyed fish (Anableps anableps), and the large tank with leopard shark, guitar fish, moonfish and stingray.
The Cuban crocodile enclosure is the centrepiece of this room. The Cuban crocodile (Crocodylus rhombifer) is a small but aggressive species of crocodile found only in Cuba. It is one of the most threatened crocodile species in the world and listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. The two Cuban crocs of Skansen Aquarium are one of the few breeding pairs outside of Cuba (see ).
In the same room you will find the few real aquariums of the Akvariet, presenting coral fish.
Just before the exit spider lovers will find something to their liking, because there’s a whole section especially focused on venomous spiders.
Last but not least it is worth mentioning the modern information panels they use at some of the enclosures. These computer screens can be easily adjusted and provide day-to-day updates on the species on display. Moreover, video presentations can be made on these screens, which make them very useful for educational purposes.
And hey, did I mention already that the word Aquarium is misleading.