In my effort to round out my Copenhagen introductory experience I quickly realized that the Copenhagen Zoo was a must visit. With a reputation for being one of the best zoos in Europe it boasted stellar review after stellar review online. Eager to try and catch the 1PM feeding I pulled up the zoo’s website, glanced at a map and set off. Unfortunately the trip to Fasanvej St. station (which I felt was the closest and easiest walk to the Zoo) took slightly longer than expected….and then I goofed. Instead of heading south, I accidentally began heading north and didn’t realize my mistake until I’d gone 3 or 4 blocks. At which time 1PM was 5 minutes away and a light rain had begun to fall. No longer on a strict timetable I ducked into a corner kebab shop and ordered lunch hoping the rain would pass in the 20 or so minutes it would take me to eat.
It didn’t and unfortunately it may have even picked up slightly. But, un-perturbed I stepped out into the light rain and began backtracking towards the station before blazing a new southerly path. The rain was relatively light and left me damp but lacked sufficient strength to send me running for cover. If anything it added a slight skip to my step as I found myself humming Singing in the Rain and splashing my way through a beautiful, sprawling palatial garden. After getting slightly lost I stumbled onto an open viewing area where the park opened up onto the back side of the zoo’s Elephant enclosure. In place of the high walls you’d expect blocking out non-paying visitors there was a low electric fence, moat, and railing. From there it was only a matter of a few turns before I found myself standing in front of the Zoo’s entrance.
Then I faced a small quandary. It was still raining, gray and showed no sign of letting up. But, that’s how the weather had been the previous three days, and each time after an hour or so the clouds broke, the rain stopped, and the weather transitioned into beautiful afternoons. I had the entire afternoon to wait it out, was reading my Dad’s book and had little desire to rush, so I opted to risk the 140 DKK ($28 USD) entrance fee and went for it. Once inside I quickly found my way to one of the Zoo’s small cafe’s where I secured a quiet corner table and began reading. Before long the rain stopped, clouds broke, and as one the animals and I left our dry hiding spaces to enjoy the sunshine and fresh, crisp, clean post storm air.
After a quick stop in the Flamingo enclosure I found my way to the Lion’s den. To my absolute delight the entire pride was out and active wandering the enclosure, playfully relaxing and from time to time babysitting the pack of small cubs.
I couldn’t believe my luck. Not only were all of the lions out and active, the enclosure itself was extremely conducive to viewing them with the usual close up cement walls with smeared and fogged up glass windows only taking up a small portion of the viewing area. The rest consisted of a large, long, and open railing wrapping around 1/3 of the habitat. With the lions out and about it offered an incredible view. It was hands down the best chance I’ve had to view lions – normally in Phoenix and the other Zoo’s I’ve been in the view has consisted of little more than furry lion’s paws sticking out of the grass, or a long tail dangling from one of the enclosure’s small caves.
From there it was on to the monkey enclosures where most of the monkeys were relaxing, nibbling on food and enjoying the sun’s warmth. You’ll note that the little guy in the image above seemed to have it all figured out. What better way to spend an afternoon than outside taking a nap in the sun?
Speaking of sunbathing, even this turtle in one of the internal butterfly and bird enclosures seemed to have it all figured out. Stuck inside? Can’t enjoy the sunlight? No bother – bring the sunlight to you! Personally though, I have a hunch he’s going to have a pretty difficult time getting a tan through that shell, it’s probably a smudge stronger than SPF 45.
Attached to the butterfly enclosure was a large dark hallway lined with individually lit frog, insect and snake aquariums. One of the largest served as home to a small army of brightly covered jungle frogs. While no doubt terribly poisonous to touch, their rich colors and vibrant markings make them some of the most attractive amphibians I’ve ever seen in person.
A little further down the hall, however, was this lovely couple. Closer to what one might expect these guys possessed a certain dinosaur esq look struck quite the pose. Quite the couple, relaxing and enjoying their vibrantly colored flower bed.
From there it was on to the Chimpanzee enclosure which was completely inside and housed a surprisingly large chimpanzee population including grown males, females and young children. I’m always torn on Zoos. On the one hand I love them for the opportunity to see amazing creatures up close and for the opportunity they present to protect endangered, injured, or domesticated animals. On the other hand – well, this photo sums it up pretty perfectly. There’s the sad sense of the jailhouse blues seeing some of the animals locked away in man-made enclosures.
After winding my way out of the Chimpanzee enclosure I found myself entering another building. This one, it turned out, was actually the back side of the outdoor monkey enclosures I had visited earlier and offered a mixture of in-door extensions of the enclosures as well as several smaller, entirely indoor areas for some of the smaller and incredibly adorable monkeys.
From there it was on over to the Tiger enclosure where three of the large cats were relaxing and enjoying the sun…until, that is, this little guy woke up from his nap and got a bit bored.
After a hearty yawn – at least I’m hoping that’s what it was – and a bit of stretching he did what any good natured cat would do. Decided to stalk prey.
On massive padded paws he slowly stalked his way towards his sleeping cage-mate…inching forward slowly….then eventually pouncing on his sleeping target who was, as you might imagine, not entirely thrilled at rude awakening. Oh, and have no fear. The above photo is completely innocent.
The unamused cage mate quickly woke up and let his (or her) general disapproval be known – though you can tell by the provocateur’s ears that he was still finding the reaction absolutely entertaining.
Unfortunately, as anyone who has ever ambushed a friend or family member in their sleep knows, while hysterical to watch, they do tend to be a bit grumpy after. This was no exception, but after a quick chiding the two collapsed to the dirt and returned to their lazy afternoon lounging, no worse for wear.
Around the corner I quickly came face to face with the Leopard enclosure. As with the rest of the spaces in the Zoo I was shocked at how many animals the enclosure was home to as I counted four, possibly five leopards in their sprawling and thickly shaded cage. Seeing the animals in such a social environment, many with young children or nurslings in tow really gave me a lot of added respect for the Copenhagen Zoo team and their approach.
Located just around the corner from the leopards was a small otter enclosure. These three goofballs had found the perfect perch for staring at passing tourists, often at eye level. Their playful antics as they huddled, drying off in the sun’s warmth reminded me of the three stooges and one of their comedy routines.
From there it was up, past two lounging red pandas to the sea lion enclosure. Not to be outdone by the otters the sea lion enclosure was in the midst of a feeding/show when I arrived. After barking on command, shaking hands, waving, and a plethora of other adorable tricks the sea lion’s trainers would send them off to one of the corners before calling over a new performer.
The sea lions were extremely responsive, playful, and as you’ll note in the image above quite talented. On more than one occasion I was surprised to see them leap out of the water to touch nose to suspended ball, or trainer’s finger tips.
As the sea lions performed, the penguins in the partially attached enclosure immediately next to them fought for attention. Several forming small groups before waddling their way in front of each other where they proceeded to honk and peck at each other. Who knew that penguins rolled in gangs when imprisoned in the big house? From there it was on past a small pack of beautiful wolves enjoying mottled shade and into the bear section of the Zoo.
There I was immediately greeted by this goofy little guy who spent the majority of his time lounging in the pool, looking guilty and playing with toys while his mother and two younger brothers wandered the enclosure causing trouble.
While mom waited for dinner, and kept an eye on things from an interesting perch in the middle of the structure, two of her cubs entertained them selves as boys will…
…in a playful, clumsy, and utterly adorable bear face-off. Nose to nose. Paw to paw. Standing as tall as they could they’d grapple before one would break away, racing a large circle around the enclosure before pausing to have at it once again.
As time drifted by and I watched them play they eventually all gathered to wait while one of the zoo keepers rustled around behind the enclosure. Though it looked more like they were taking standing and walking lessons than waiting for anything in particular.
Located a stones throw away from the brown bear family was the polar bear enclosure which serves as home for two large, gorgeous polar bears.
Full of character one was kind enough to pose for me briefly, striking a classic pose which you might recognize from music videos and malls all over America. After a quick pose he turned, sticking his tongue out at me and looking generally pleased with himself.
As I’m sure you may have noticed by now, it seemed like every one was in the best of moods. Both animals and humans alike. After watching him mime for the camera a bit more and shooting several more shots I set off past the leopard seal enclosure and towards the tunnel which winds under a road and into the second half of the park.
The second half of the park is home to a number of animals, including this gorgeous and slightly ferocious mother caracal which you may recall from the start of this entry. Let me tell you, few things stand out in my memory quite like making eye contact with her, perhaps 8 inches away from each other, face to face, as she stood on top of a barrel and expressed her annoyance with my proximity to her little ones. After snapping two quick shots I respected her wishes and backed off giving her a bit of space.
Her two little ones were adorable kittens with captivating eyes and pure, adorable, kitten innocence. They found their way to the floor to ceiling glass and playfully rolled around attacking small bugs, sticks of grass, and anything that happened to be in range, which included attempts – despite the class – to nibble on a few small children’s fingers and my camera strap.
The far side of the Zoo contained a large giraffe family, several hippos, birds, zebras and to my surprise a large petting zoo and domestic exhibit including highland horses, several cows, pigs and chickens.
The Copenhagen Zoo was absolutely incredible. I was blown away by the layout, the treatment of the animals, their general energy, and the magnificent way the day turned out. I truly couldn’t have asked for a better day at the Zoo. I’m absolutely thrilled with how my gamble turned out and hope to revisit to zoo again sometime soon. I already miss all of my new furry, feathered and scaled friends!