There are quite a few interesting zoos that can be found in the Netherlands. Amsterdam is home to Artis Royal Zoo while the Rotterdam Zoo or Diergaarde Blijdorp can be found in Rotterdam. All of these zoos attract thousands of tourists every year and are also popular among the locals. The zoo has a wide collection of plants and animals native to Asia, Europe, Africa and even Australia. It’s one of the reasons why Rotterdam Zoo is one of the Netherlands’ most visited zoos.
Rotterdam Zoo – Blijdorp
Diergaarde Blijdorp or Rotterdam Zoo has over 1.5 million visitors per year one of the most popular attractions in the Netherlands. Blijdorp stands for nature conservation, recreation, education and research for scientific research.
As a zoo, Blijdorp concentrates on the maintenance of most endangered species. By showing animals and plants and giving information, Blijdorp receives its visitors aware of the speciality and value of nature and the organisms. The realization of this objective involves the transformation of the old Blijdorp into a biotope garden, where visitors can discover the world’s most important biotopes on a small scale. The latest expansion is the Oceanium water exhibition.
Blijdorp is one of the few zoos in Europe with its own researchers, providing process-to-implementation, transplantation, behavior, nutrition and medical care. Eternal knowledge helps the animals grow older, stay healthier and reproduce better.
Diergaarde Blijdorp was founded in 1855 by Mr. Van der Valk and Van den Bergh. In the city centre of Rotterdam they gave a rail garden that gave space to pheasants and water birds. Just as with Artis, the zoo in the first village can only be visited by members and the well-to-do bourgeoisie. Around 1924 the zoo started to face financial problems. The high land price due to the central location in the city was a major cause. That is why, 13 years later, the zoo was moved to the Blijdorp neighbourhood. When the bombing of Rotterdam took place in 1940, the wilderness was destroyed. Many animals died and some escaped. Zebras walked the shopping street and seals swam through the canals of Rotterdam.
Diergaarde Blijdorp later climbed out of its valley and has since become a large zoo with gorillas, giraffes, flamingos, zebras, ostriches etc. There are also daily shows and there is also a botanical garden. In 2007 Diergaarde Blijdorp came in the news because one of the male gorillas ‘Bokito’ escaped. He injured a woman and destroyed parts of the restaurant. The gorilla was later enclosed and anaesthetized. After a few months were visible to the public again. A 5-meter high rock face ensures that they do not escape this time.
For the coming years, many plans have been made to make Diergaarde Blijdorp even more interesting. These are the return of the watchtower, restoration of the Rivierahal, expansion of the oceanium, and expansion of the animals. There will be more bears, hippos, the small panda and an Orangutan stay.
The Oceanium is in the new part and is the largest building in all of Blijdorp. The Oceanium is largely dominated by marine life. We view the Oceanium from the new entrance. Here one starts with the outdoor enclosure for the seals. One can look through the glass windows from under water, but also from above through two elevations. When one enters the Oceanium, one arrives first at the Falkland Islands, where various puffins and starfish can be seen. Then one walks in and ends up at the North Sea. Here, a current is simulated every few minutes and one can also see the fish in the North Sea. There is a separate room for the jellyfish. You then walk through an aquarium through a glass tube. Here you can see sharks, sea turtles and rays. Through the tunnel, one enters a space where attention is paid to the pollution of the sea and then into the biolap, where among other things seahorses can be seen. After this, they continue to the Australian coral reefs. There is also a tunnel here, but a lot smaller. In the aquariums, life in the Great Barrier Reef is simulated. After these aquariums, you end up in the Caribbean Sea and the islands that belong to it. In addition to marine life, attention is also paid to live on land. Among other things, caimans can be seen. After this one continues to the penguins’ enclosure and then to the lands of the tortoises and swiftvos. Then one arrives in the desert where one finds, among other things, the rabbit owl. The last part is all about the deep sea, where the seals can be seen again.
National Plant Collection
Blijdorp is also a botanical garden and is a member of the Dutch Association of Botanical Gardens. The zoo manages two families of plants, primula and Bromeliaceae. These two families belong to the National Plant Collection, a collection of plants that can be found in various gardens and parks throughout the Netherlands. The zoo also has many tropical plants that have been donated to the zoo by the Hortus botanicus Leiden, such as the coffee plant, avocado tree and a large number of ornamental plants.
Recreation & Education
Diergaarde Blijdorp is a big attraction among day visitors and tourists. Around 1.5 million people visit the zoo every year. The zoo is open all year round. The zoo does close one hour earlier in the winter than in the summer. In the spring the zoo is a very special experience since animals are mating. In the winter the zoo organizes the MidWinterZoo to attract more visitors. There is then a Winterplein with a sleigh square and a large campfire. The MidWinterZoo is annually in December and January. The zoo also has a special breakfast buffet at Christmas. High schools use the zoo to show biology lessons in real life. In addition, the zoo also has special programs for primary schools.
Breeding Programs & Research
Blijdorp participates in various breeding programs, around 70 in total. The purpose of this is to preserve species, especially those that are threatened with extinction. Among other things, the Asian elephant and the toucan are bred. In addition, the zoo also keeps pedigree books of animals, such as those for the crown pigeon. In addition, the zoo leads the breeding program for the small panda.
Restaurants, Snacks and Drinks in Blijdorp
In Blijdorp are several restaurants and places where you can buy something to eat. In the summer it is nice on the terrace, but you can also sit inside. There is a Jungle Café, the Ooievaarsnest restaurant, an African Uwaja Lodge (also with children’s menus) and the relatively new restaurant “The Gate of Asia”, which was first the Lotus Conservatory. The Poort van Asia sells Oriental dishes such as Turkish pizza and kebab. You can also buy French fries, poffertjes, churros and (gluten-free) chip twisters at the park.
History of the Rotterdam Zoo
Diergaarde Blijdorp actually came into being for two reasons. The competition between Rotterdam and Amsterdam was one reason. Amsterdam had its own zoo, Artis, so in Rotterdam more and more Rotterdammers were calling for their own zoo. In 1847, the whole of Rotterdam was being connected by rail network. Two employees, Mr. Van den Bergh and Mr. Van der Valk, decided to buy a piece of land next to one of the railway stations and called it Railway Garden. There was a lake on the piece of land and the two men were huge animal lovers and wanted to keep birds there. They put a lot of effort into the Railway Garden and many people from Rotterdam became curious about their collection. The railway station manager and his friends decided to help the two men. The adjacent garden was drawn near the railway garden, on which stood a large garden house. That way, there was more money to buy more animals and more space to house them. At that time, Rotterdam locals were very excited to visit the zoo for just ten guilders; often only the rich ones could afford it. Although the land was owned by the railway corporation, the two men were allowed to have their zoo on it. In 1856 the adjacent piece of land was permanently transferred to them. It turned out to be a huge success and soon the two Rotterdam businessmen made 300,000 guilders available for expansion and the purchase of more animals.
There’s an interesting story of how the first sea lion brought to the zoo in 1922 escaped on its first day and swam through the canals of Rotterdam. Eventually, the sea lion was caught near a pumping station. From 1924, however, the zoos had a few financial problems. One of the reasons for the problems was its location. Eventually, a new location for the zoo was searched for, and soon a site farther away from the centre; the current location.
Our Rotterdam Zoo Photo Impression
Diergaarde Blijdorp or Rotterdam Zoo is a lovely possibility for a day out with the whole family. Children love animals and Rotterdam Zoo presents them with an opportunity to see some animals that aren’t found in Europe. Here is our photo impression of Rotterdam Zoo.
A view of the Rotterdam Zoo’s Oceanium.
Ostriches can also be found in the Diergaarde Blijdorp Rotterdam Zoo.
Children love paying a visit to the polar bears in the Rotterdam Zoo. Sometimes, they also swim over to say hi to the visitors.
There are also reindeers in the Rotterdam Zoo. Don’t miss them!
The Rotterdam Zoo is also home to a collection of Sumatran Tigers. These are native to Indonesia and very few can be found in Europe. Don’t forget to pay them a visit.
The Rotterdam Zoo Opening Hours
Rotterdam Zoo or Diergaarde Blijdorp is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The zoo is open every day throughout the year, including public holidays (Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension Day, Pentecost, Sinterklaas, King’s Day, New Year). In winter, the zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and in summer from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. In the weekends when the clock is changed, it is open until 6 p.m.
Exceptions to opening times: Saint Nicholas Day Eve, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve: open until 16:00 and on New Year’s Day open from 10:00.
|Daily||09:00 – 18:00 |||
|Winter Opening Times||09:00 – 17:00 || Summer: Closes at 18:00|
|On December 4, 24||09:00 – 16:00 || December 24: Opens at 10:00|
Rotterdam Zoo Ticket Prices and Discounts
Tickets are available at the entrance, of the Rotterdam Zoo but they are cheaper when bought online. The regular admission price at the entrance is €24,50 for adults and €23,50 online. Babies and toddlers up to 2 years old can enter for free. For children from 3 to 12 years, it costs € 20.00 (online 19.00). Group discounts apply from 20 people.
Group discount: € 2.00 at normal cash register entrance price (€ 24.50) from 20 people
Note: children under 18 are admitted only when accompanied by an adult.
Visitors can rent a cart/stroller for € 2.50 for children who can’t walk long. The stroller offers them the chance to sit (occasionally).
Regular entrance prices at the entrance
|Adults||€ 23,50 (€ 24.50 at the entrance)|
|Child 3 – 12||€ 19,00 (€ 20,00 at the entrance)|
|Child 0 – 2||Free entrance|
|Group||Starting at € 24,50 for groups of more than 20 people|
Address, Contact Information and Route to the Rotterdam Zoo
Parking in the Rotterdam Zoo isn’t very expensive when compared with parking in the city of Rotterdam. The car is very nice of getting to the zoo because you’re there in no time and it’s also convenient, especially if you’re with little children. It is also possible to use public transport as the zoo isn’t very far from Rotterdam central station. It’s only a mere 10-minute walk. Walking is not an ideal way if you’re coming with kids and by public transport. By the time you get into the zoo, your toddlers’ legs will already be tired and then you’ll have to pay extra to get them a pram.
Rotterdam Zoo is easily accessible both by public transport and by car. The zoo is a 10-minute walk from Rotterdam Central Station. If you would like to go by car, take the “Blijdorp” exit on the A20.
Rotterdam Zoo has its own parking area (P1) in front of the main entrance (Blijdorplaan 8). Take exit 13 “Blijdorp” on the Rotterdam ring road (north) and follow the Diergaarde Blijdorp signs for parking area P1. There are also charging points for electric cars there. Parking tickets are available at the ticket offices and ticket machines of Diergaarde Blijdorp. Visitors can pay by card or in cash.
Day ticket parking – € 9.00
Subscription holder fee – € 5.50
Teachers/supervisors who accompany school trips or school lessons € 5.50 on presentation of the school trip confirmation.
If it’s very busy then we’ll have to refer you to P2 under the A13 driveway. Visitors can also park at the Horvathweg (along the Sparta Stadium) or at the van Aerssenlaan/Bentincklaan. From Horvathweg visitors can walk to the main entrance at Blijdorplaan 8 or from Van Aerssenlaan/Bentincklaan to the entrance on Van Aerssenlaan 49.
Prices are the municipal hourly rate. Payment involves entering the registration number of the car at the parking meter and can be done by pin or credit card.
There is also a possibility for disabled parking. The disabled parking spaces can be found on the large parking lot on the Blijdorplaan, close to the main entrance. Wheelchair users may ask for a wheelchair from the staff.
Note: A limited number of wheelchairs are available for free. You need to reserve this in advance via tel. 0900 1857 (between 14:00 and 17:00). We recommend doing this well in advance during the high season. Take into account a deposit of € 50.00. A number of HandyCare wheelchairs can be borrowed at both entrances for a 1 euro throw-in (shopping cart system). These cannot be reserved. Due to limited availability, we can only accept 1 reservation per group.
Please note: the Van Aerssenlaan & Bentincklaan fall under the Environment Zone or Milieu zone.
If you’re taking the public transport from Amsterdam Central Station or Schiphol Airport, take the trains to Rotterdam Central station and from there, you only have to walk to the zoo.
With the widget below you can find accurate advice for the real-time travel times based on your current location. This application will help you when you are not sure which bus or tram you can take from your location.
Rotterdam Zoo FAQ
Can I visit the Rotterdam Zoo in a wheelchair?
Yes, the zoo is very accessible for wheelchair users and even mobility scooters.
Is there a queue for the Rotterdam Zoo?
Yes, usually there is. Especially in high season, the queue can be quite long that’s why we advice purchase your tickets here online. The queue is usually for people who don’t have a ticket yet.
Is smoking allowed in the zoo?
No, smoking isn’t allowed in the zoo. Smoke-free zones have been created on the terraces near the hospitality industry. Same also applies to the e-cigarette. Smoking is allowed in the other parts of the garden, but visitors are asked to take others into account. With the zoo’s smoking policy, they hope to create a safe and healthy environment for children in particular.
Do I have to print my e-tickets?
No, the tickets can be scanned from your mobile telephone screen, so printing it isn’t necessary.
Are bicycles allowed in the zoo?
No, bicycles, roller skates or skateboards are not allowed.
Is the Rotterdam Zoo interesting for children?
Yes, there are lots of entertainment possibilities in the zoo for children.
Are pets allowed in the Rotterdam Zoo?
In order to protect the animals in the zoo, visitors aren’t allowed to bring in their pets.
Reviews of the Rotterdam Zoo
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