History of the zoo

In the 19th Century, narrative works about wild animals and lands far away captivated humans, making animal shows grow in popularity. This enthusiasm caused the landlord Ernst Pinkert to convert his restaurant ‘the Pfaffendorfer Hof’ into a zoological garden. On Whitsuntide in 1878 4,500 visitors congregated for the opening of the zoo to see kangaroos, parrots and oryx as well as the Bengal tiger and a pair of lions. Since then Zoo Leipzig has managed to grow and live through two world wars and times of economic recession and political turmoil owing to its commitment, persistence and visions.



On 9th June, Ernst Pinkert opens a restaurant (the Zoological garden of Leipzig). From the public house „Pfaffendorfer Hof“ that includes an animal enclosure one of the first zoos in Europe is born.

1900 / 1901

The zoo is extended. Within only two years a new building for big cats is built as well as the primate house and the main and administrative buildings.


The aquarium is built, in which fish and other sea creatures from all over the world still swim today.



The aquarium is extended to include a terrarium. Snakes, lizards and alligators are still housed in this Wilhelminian-style building today.


Visitors can admire pachyderms from Asia in the newly opened elephant house.

elephant house


Wild activity at all heights – the aviaries and the outdoor pens for the big cats are opened. The Jason monument is also erected.


Bears move into the newly erected bear castle.

bear castle


Island enclosures are built for macaque monkeys, baboons and penguins.


Fun for both kids and adults: the zoo builds an animal kindergarten for stroking, petting and feeding.

the zoo builds an animal kindergarten for stroking, petting and feeding.


The birds start chirping: the walk-in birdhouse opens its doors. It houses exotic bird species at tropical temperatures. The zoo school is also established.

the walk-in birdhouse opens its doors.


On the Rosenthal paddock the ungulate enclosures are finished. African domestic goats, Chinese water deer and Australian red-necked wallabies come to Leipzig.


One of the oldest parts of the zoo is renovated: after 82 years the aquarium is finally renovated and extended. Additional tanks create new habitat for the fish.



The rhino and anoa enclosures are redesigned and the terrarium is modernised.

The rhino and anoa enclosures are redesigned


The new Millennium gets off to a good start for African big cats and primates as the lion Savannah Makasi Simba and Pongoland open their gates.


The sloth bears move from the bear castle to their new home (sloth bear ravine). The historical big cat house is converted into the Explorer’s House Ark.


More habitat is created for the Asian big cats as the Tiger Taiga is finished. A glass panel down to ground level enables visitors to view the tigers swimming.

Asian big cats at the Tiger Taiga


Excursions can now be made to see giraffes, zebras and other animals of the newly created Kiwara Savannah. The zoo’s multi-storey car park is also opened.


Okapis (endangered forest giraffes) are given a new home. These reclusive animals from the Congo feel at home in the specially designed forest enclosure.

Okapis are given a new home.


A temple in the zoo? Naturally! When all is said and done our elephants come from Asia. Our elephant temple Ganesha Mandir provides our elephants with the luxury of sand and water pools.

Our elephant temple Ganesha Mandir provides our elephants with the luxury of sand and water pools.


After four years of construction work, our fascinating tropical experience world Gondwanaland is opened. Housing around 640 exotic plant and animal species it gives visitors exciting views from the canopy trail and jungle paths or from a boat trip on the river.

fascinating tropical experience world Gondwanaland


The Armur leopards move into Leopard Valley. Flamingo lagoon and a new zoo exit are opened.


Kiwara-Kopje – an enclosure for Eastern black rhinoceros, cheetahs and patas monkeys as well as Bear Castle playground are opened.


With a restoration concept initiated by Zoo Leipzig, the City of Leipzig and the Leipziger Messe GmbH, the historic Congress Hall is revived as a modern and multifunctional cultural, exhibition and event center in the heart of the city.


After a year of renovation work the historic ape house originally opened in 1901 in the zoo’s Founder’s Garden is finally reopened as a modern koala house.


On 01.08.2017 the high mountain landscape Himalayas is opened as a species-appropriate enclosure for snow leopards and red pandas.


The large historic free-flight aviary is reopened after renovation as a walk-in enclosure.


The Pampas, the Pantanal and Patagonia entice visitors with inhabitants such as guanacos, giant anteaters, maned wolves and rheas.

theme world south america


The new animal petting area El Ranchito makes the hearts of our young zoo visitors beat faster.

El Ranchito