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From the African Savannah to the Deep Sea: Amsterdam’s Artis Zoo

There is little doubt that Amsterdam has something incredible to see, do and experience at just around every corner.  From interesting cafes and coffee shops to charming markets and quaint neighbourhoods, Amsterdam has plenty of sights – including the Artis Zoo in the heart of the city.

Artis Zoo – also known as the Natura Artis Magistra (which translates to “Nature is the teacher of art and science) – is the Netherlands’ oldest zoo, and one of Europe’s oldest.  This popular attraction is known not just for its animals, but also for its impressive aquarium, planetarium, arboretum and substantial art collection.

The unique buildings here make this a distinct cultural heritage site from the 19th century.  At Artis, you’ll find some 27 monumental structures – many used to house the animals – while the zoo itself sits almost squarely within the city, and is about a 15-minute tram ride from Centraal Station.

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The zoo is impressive in size, and was originally established by the “three Ws”: J.W.H. Werlemann, Gerard Westerman and J.J. Wijsmuller.  Though it was founded by these three as early as 1838, the zoo didn’t officially open to the public until 13 years later in September of 1851.  The Artis Zoo began opening year-round in 1920, though September continues to offer discounted admission rates.

Nowadays, this zoo is home to more than 700 types of animals – including chimpanzees, elephants, giraffes and zebras – along with some 200+ species of trees, many of which are nearing extinction.  Along with the wildlife and greenery, this attraction also features a botanical garden, library and much, much more.

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Indeed, the architecture, exhibits and wildlife here have not gone unnoticed.  In 2015, Artis was voted the best zoo in the Benelux – which comprises the three neighbouring Western European countries of Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg.  Artis is also one of the few European zoos to include historic, centuries-old buildings that include the museum from 1855, the aquarium that dates back to 1882 and the botany- and zoology-focused library from 1867.  In fact, the zoo’s library is considered as part of the University of Amsterdam’s special collections.

With a visit to this natural wildlife park, you’ll have a chance to stroll among the trees, visit various animals and plants, take a trip to the stars and get a sense of Amsterdam’s heritage and history… and all right in the heart of the city.  A visit here will easily transport you to different worlds – from an African savannah with gazelles and wildebeests to an aquarium surrounded by coral reefs and live sharks.  You’ll also get a lesson in geography, learning about what kinds of creatures live in the local canals.

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Artis Zoo is a recognized member of the Dutch Zoo Federation, European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, International Species Information System, and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

For more information, or to find out hours of operation and admission rates, please visit Artis Zoo.