ARTIS Royal Zoo

ARTIS Royal Zoo is the oldest zoo located anywhere in the Netherlands—in fact, it’s generally considered one of the oldest zoos in the world. In addition to the hundreds of animal species that call the attraction home, the prominently located grounds of ARTIS Royal Zoo contain a planetarium, an aquarium, and a museum dedicated exclusively to microbial organisms. The lovely grounds also feature several historic buildings and a massive oak said to be the oldest tree in all of Amsterdam.

Money Saving Tip! ARTIS Royal Zoo is included on the I Amsterdam City Pass. If you are sightseeing in Amsterdam, then you can save a lot of money with the pass.

History of ARTIS Royal Zoo

ARTIS Royal Zoo first opened its doors in 1838, when the trio of Gerard Westerman, J.W.H. Werlemann, and J.J. Wijsmuller purchased a private estate in the Plantage neighborhood of Amsterdam. At that time, the area was on the edges of Amsterdam’s urban core, and the zoo’s initial collection was little more than a humble mixture of a few parrots and monkeys. In short order, though, the zoo’s principal operators—the Natura Artis Magistra Society, who gave the zoo its distinctive name—would set about acquiring and displaying elephants, lions, polar bears, brown bears, and tigers, just to name a few. In 1939, with the Natura Artis Magistra Society facing financial difficulties, ownership of the zoo’s grounds and its many animals was transferred to the city of Amsterdam, and the attraction has remained a successful enterprise ever since.

ARTIS Royal Zoo Highlights

ARTIS Royal Zoo is home to nearly 1,000 unique animal species, as well as hundreds of different types of trees and plants. The zoo’s Savannah landscape is where you’ll encounter zebras, giraffes, and kudus, while the Asian Elephant enclosure always draws a big crowd eager to observe these majestic creatures up close. The Reptile House, with its many crocodiles, is not to be missed either.

The grounds of the ARTIS Royal ZOO contain an Aquarium, too. While currently undergoing an extensive renovation, when open to the public this engaging facility is highlighted by numerous exhibits that provide guests a glimpse of aquatic habitats like coral reefs, Brazilian mangroves, and even an Amsterdam canal, all under one roof.

Your admission ticket to ARTIS Royal Zoo also entitles you to visit the ARTIS Planetarium, where you can watch one of four educational programs that air daily. English language speakers will want to catch either “Worlds beyond Earth,” which tells the powerful story of how life came to exist on the planet; or “Journey through the Universe,” a visual marvel that displays breathtaking images of the Milky Way and solar system beyond.

More to See and Do at ARTIS Royal Zoo

Continue reading below for a few more things to keep in mind as you visit ARTIS Royal Zoo.

•Other popular exhibits found at ARTIS Royal Zoo include Lemur Land, where you’ll encounter red ruffed lemurs; Kerbert’s Lion Terrace, where entire prides of lions feed and roam just feet away from guests; and the always fascinating Butterfly Pavilion and Gorilla House.

•ARTIS Royal Zoo regularly runs live animal feedings and training sessions, with one of the most popular sessions typically involving the attraction’s family of California sea lions. For a full listing of animal presentations, visit the ARTIS Royal Zoo official website.

•Visitors to ARTIS Royal Zoo in the mood for a pleasant sit-down meal will want to head straight to Café Restaurant de Plantage. This cozy establishment serves an extensive breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu right on the grounds of the zoo. The cuisine here tends to be Mediterranean-centric, and the space’s floor-to-ceiling windows provide patrons great views of the surrounding scenery.

•Each and every day ARTIS Royal Zoo features a variety of zookeeper talks on the lives of popular ARTIS animals like elephants, lions, and penguins, so be sure to check out the attraction’s “Daily Schedule” webpage for more information in advance of your visit. If you happen to be visiting ARTIS Royal Zoo on a Saturday or Sunday, be advised that the attraction offers guided tours at 11:00am and 1:00pm.

•If you find yourself having so much fun at ARTIS Royal Zoo that you’re feeling sad about your time there coming to an end, consider extending your stay by visiting Micropia, ARTIS’s sister attraction. Located at the northwest corner of the ARTIS Royal Zoo’s grounds, Micropia is the world’s only museum devoted to microbes, and its interactive exhibits are entertaining and educational.

Why ARTIS Royal Zoo Should Be on Your Must-See List

ARTIS Royal Zoo stands out today as one of the oldest zoos in the world. Not only does it house an assortment of animals from all over the planet, but it does so in a tranquil, park-like setting in the midst of bustling Amsterdam. Throw in an on-site planetarium and aquarium, and a trip to ARTIS Royal Zoo has a little bit of something for every science-loving member of the family. Plus, once you’ve explored the many wonders on display at ARTIS Royal Zoo, a number of other major Amsterdam attractions are located nearby, including Hortus Botanicus, NEMO Science Museum, and The National Maritime Museum (Het Scheepvaartmuseum).