As someone who pushes for animals to receive the best welfare possible, I have very contradicting thoughts about zoos. Rotterdam zoo is classed as the ‘prettiest zoo in Europe’ but does that mean they have good welfare?
I understand that zoos allow for expanding our knowledge on animals, and are a great way to pass on this information to the general public. However, I believe that zoos don’t always have the animals best interest at heart. Animals suffer in captivity with something called abnormal behaviours, which is when they repeatedly perform a behaviour that injures them, like pacing or hair pulling. They also only ever perform these behaviours in captivity due to stress.
Be sure to check out my post on animal exploitation so you can get a good view on what I mean by good welfare.
Disclaimer: All animals and prices mentioned are for August 2020 so are likely to change over time.
Rotterdam Zoo General Info
As you can see on the map above, Rotterdam zoo is located North-West of the city. If you are arriving by car, it is €9.50 for a days parking.
Ticket prices are €24.50 per adult and €20 for children over the age of 3 (children under the age of 3 go free).
The zoo is also known as ‘Blijdorp’ which translates to ‘Happy Village’ and it’s what you will see on the signs if you are driving in.
The layout of the zoo is done by continents. There is an aquarium at the entrance, as well as the racoons, followed by North America, then South America, Africa, Europe, Australia and finally Asia.
You can download the zoo app for a virtual map and to see all the restaurants too.
What animals do they have?
I was super impressed by the variety of animals they have at the zoo! From butterflies to polar bears to elephants to lions.
There were 2 polar bears in the zoo, both kept in separate enclosures as they’re solitary animals. Polar bears are among the worst animals to keep in captivity as they roam thousands of miles on a daily basis, which they cannot do in an enclosure.
They also have evolved to live in arctic conditions so seeing them in an enclosure full of grass doesn’t seem right. Check out this post for more information.
Beside the fact the animals in general don’t sit well in captivity, I would say they had a decent enclosure with big pool of water. I believe there could have been more space (well, I would say that regardless).
The animals themselves seemed relaxed, which is definitely an impressive feat for these animals. Their coat was glossy and they seemed in brilliant health so those are all great qualities.
I was pleasantly surprised by the large space this red panda had; it was practically two enclosures. One side had some type of antelope inside, whereas the other was empty (I’m assuming that is the red panda’s private area) and they were linked by treetops that the panda walked across.
The treetops that linked the enclosures were above the walkway, so you got an incredible view of the red panda.
There were 2 Siberian tigers at Rotterdam Zoo. The one in the picture was resting under a heat lamp whereas the other tiger (pictured below) was resting in the sun.
I had concerns with the tiger enclosure, and I really hope they have an additional indoor enclosure as this photo wasn’t taken with a zoom camera. There wasn’t must opportunity for the tiger to escape human interaction; there were lots of people around this area.
The video shows one of three elephants playing with the enrichment. This is really great to see as it shows the elephants are being kept busy.
They had a large enclosure, but I wouldn’t say it was big enough in comparison to how much they roam. However, it’s certainly bigger than other elephant enclosures I have seen.
One of the elephants was missing their tusks, but I couldn’t read the information (as it was all in Dutch!) to see why.
The amount of swimming space the penguins had was wonderful! All of the penguins could easily swim around in the space provided, which is great.
As penguins are social animals, they live in large rafts (when in water. On land they’re called waddles!). From my limited knowledge, I believe there was enough penguins to replicate what they would have in the wild, but I am not an expert on this.
Rhinos absolutely fascinate me! Depending on their species, they have such varying temperaments; black rhinos are very aggressive, white rhinos are super placid. Indian rhinos, however, I know barely anything about.
According to Save the Rhino, Indian rhino’s are very territorial, which is why I am surprised there were two in the same enclosure. However, since these rhinos do not have ‘breeding seasons’, it is possible they were attempting to breed the two.
I wish there was more vegetation for these beautiful animals, they seemed way too exposed. They also love to swim, and there was no area for this to happen.
There was a lot of places for this beautiful leopard to hide in his enclosure, so I felt lucky to get such a great view of him. I believe it was feeding time, hence why he ended up watching a certain part of the enclosure.
The leopard himself looked to be in great condition, which implies a proper diet and good veterinary care.
The last animal I am going to mention in this blog post is the Komodo dragon! The one pictured is the only one they had, and I believe he is fairly young as he’s smaller than the model they had next to his enclosure.
This guy had a very barren enclosure, which is a far cry from the islands of Indonesia with lots of green.
It’s very hard to determine the welfare of a reptile as determining their health from a distance is practically impossible, and they don’t really do much during the day.
We also saw…
Overall Impression of Rotterdam Zoo
I do believe that this is a great place for captive animals. Some enclosures could be expanded to improve the welfare, but this is a difficult and expensive task. I also think some animals could have more enrichment, like the elephant who had the ball, as their enclosures were too barren.
However, if an animal had to be in captivity, I believe this would be one of the best zoos for it. It’s a great place for a day trip (check out my post on Zandvoort Beach if you want more day trip ideas) and lots of fun for the family.
There’s a variety of restaurants you can choose from, and multiple gift shops which won’t break the bank.