About ninety years after the Schonbrunn Tiergarten opened, the Budapest Zoo (or Fővárosi Állat- és Növénykert, in Hungarian) opened in 1866. It was about a 25 minute walk up Andrassy Street from my hostel and I ventured out to visit it on my second morning in Budapest, hoping I could get there and see the animals before the skies opened to rain as was expected that day.
Located in the Városliget Park in Budapest, the architecture of is very beautiful and very art nouveau. It almost looked like it could be located in India. There are about 10,000 species of animals, but when the zoo first opened it housed mainly monkeys, camels, parrots, kangaroos, among others. Soon after the royal family gave a giraffe, a few tigers, lions, rhinoceroses, hippos, and an elephant also joined. The zoo was almost entirely destroyed during the Second World War during the Siege of Budapest and sadly of the 2000 specimens, only 15 survived.
One of the things I found most remarkable about the Budapest Zoo was how close you were able to get to some of the animals sometimes. Inside the monkey house, a monkey could swing right past your face, possibly even land on you. They also had very beautiful birds that looked like hawks or eagles who were wandering on the rocks of the huge mountain that acted as the center of the zoo. Their wings were clipped so they couldn’t fly away, but they could totally have eaten me, right?
To say it was difficult to find my way around the zoo would be an understatement because Hungarian is a really confusing language, but luckily there were lots of photos, too, so if you’re planning to go, don’t worry about the language barrier.
Since I arrived so early in the morning, it was breakfast time and I watched the lions go to down on a few chickens. Gross but… beautiful to watch at the same time?
The tiger was also gorgeous. He slept most of the time that I was there in the back of a truck that is in his space but it’s placed in a way that you can actually get pretty close to him.
The other animals that live at the Budapest Zoo include sea lions, penguins, polar bears, wallabies, various species of of birds, ostriches, giraffes, various species of monkeys, elephants (including a baby elephant that was born just last year!), zebras, mice, and meerkats. One beautiful leopard, too, who I only got one crappy photo of (below):
It may not be a large at the Schonbrunn Tiergarten, but it’s a lovely place to spend an afternoon.
For more information, visit their website.