Budapest Zoo was founded in 1866, as the 12th zoo of the world as a private institution. Almost from the beginning the animals were held according to their natural habitats, not in cages.
Besides Hungarian species the zoo housed several rare species of monkeys, lemurs, parrots, camels, kangaroos and other special animals. It had neither lions, nor tigers or elephants at that time. The first giraffe arrived two years after the opening in 1868. It was donated to the Zoo by Franz Joseph with Queen Elizabeth’s intervention.
Further developmental milestones were the opening of the first Lion house in 1876 with lions and tigers. An elephant, a hippopotamus and a rhinoceros joined later on. However, some financial problems arose, but the zoo did not cease to operate, however: it was taken over by the capital city, Budapest in 1907. Most of the historic buildings of the park were to open at that time, and as a result, Budapest’s Zoo became to one of the most beautiful and modern zoos in Europe.
The zoo was almost entirely destroyed in the Second World War: none of the animal houses remained intact with only 15 surviving animals remained from 2000 specimen after the siege of Budapest. Today the old buildings can now be seen in their antique splendour. In the meantime the animal habitats have been modernized, enlarged and made to look more natural and aesthetic. Professional success followed suit, the first rhinoceros ever to be born with artificial insemination was born in Budapest Zoo in 2007. Beside the rhino baby actually almost every springtime there is a baby boom, newborn giraffes, monkeys, lions, elephants, koalas, leopards enrich the animals’s communities.
The most famous building is the Elephant House, built in a style of a mosque. The tower had to be demolished in 1935, as the turkish embassy vehemently exclaimed against using a „mosque” as helding animals inside. The Elephant House of Budapest Zoo – covered outside and inside with shiny, glazed ceramic tiles – is a beautiful example of Hungarian Art Noveau.
The best life is of the hippos’s! As the water of the nearby Széchényi Bath is very similar in content to the water of the Nile, is it used in their pool. The only hippos of the world, who can have a continous spa!
In Budapest’s Zoo the Magical Hill is the newest attraction.It locates within the Great Rock, which was built in 1912 for the polar bears. Magical Hill presents the diversity of the flora and fauna, how this diversitywas evolved, and how the relationship between humankind and nature was developed through history. The exhibition takes place on 3200 square meters, on 4 floors and in 16 showrooms. Beside the Magical Hill other numerous programs, like seal show awaits the visitors.