On Sunday, I spent the entire afternoon at one of the oldest zoos in the Netherlands, Blijdorp Zoo aka Rotterdam Zoo. We arrived at 11:30 and left at 4:00. We walked and walked and saw as much as we could. With COVID, some things were sectioned off, like various indoor buildings, all scheduled feedings, the bird flight demonstration and presentations were cancelled to avoided groups from gathering (although that happened a bit naturally at times). We did see a guy with a bucket of veg walking near the prarie dogs [which are not actually dogs but burrowing rodents native to the grasslands of North America] – so lucky for us we did see a mini feed :). Look at this cute guy!
The zoo is really HUGE! I’d like to go back with the kids as I know they’d really enjoy it.
I took a lot of photos of the animals with my iPhone – so the quality of the phots are not superb but good enough. I will not post about every item we saw at the zoo, you can see all that is offered yourself by looking at the zoo’s website, rather I’ll post some of the highlights which I found great. The zoo map takes you on a journey of discovery through different countries in the world, where you can meet the animals which live there.
You walk into the rainforest-like environment and suddenly there are butterflies everywhere. This is Europe’s largest butterfly paradise with tropical temperatures and hundreds of beautiful South American butterflies flying around landing on the native plants and flowers. There are plenty of opportunities to get really close to them too. My favorite of all were the giant blue ones which were very hard to capture on my phone. Other residents of the South American section is an anaconda and piranhas. Oh and these giant leaves – I can imagine how beautiful the flower in the middle will be when in bloom.
BOKITO THE GORILLA
The most (in)famous inhabitant of the Blijdorp Zoo is Bokito, the giant silverback gorilla. In 2007, he managed to jump over the canal and broke out of his pen to grab a female admirer who visited him daily. We did see a giant silverback stand up and beat his chest (as you can see in my photo) but I’m not sure if it was Bokito, but I assume it is.
The word “bokitoproof“, meaning “durable enough to resist the actions of an enraged gorilla” and by extension “durable enough to resist the actions of a non-specific extreme situation” was voted the Word of the Year for 2007 in the Netherlands.
We saw one lazy, sleeping polar bear out in the heat. I so wished he got up and went for a swim – no such luck. This area is a great example of one that was completely closed off due to COVID. There was a seating area and stage for a discussion “meet our polar bear keeper”.
It is very hard to resist smiling when you see elephants playing in water, especially the young ones – pushing each other around and just asking like kids. We even saw the mom or dad (couldn’t tell) throwing sand up on its wet body. I made a few videos – hope they make you smile too.
Technically there is not really that much to see with the giraffes besides animals eating. We didn’t see any baby giraffes but that doesn’t mean they were not inside. They are such beautiful creatures and from the bridge, you get quite close to them.
I couldn’t help think of nearly 100 year old, Myrtle the Turtle from the New England Aquarium in Boston. Last time we visited the aquarium, it was 2014 when we went back to the states for the kids to be in our friend’s wedding and got to spend some time in Boston with one of my best friends and her kids. I just look back at my blog post for that day – they were so little!!
Details about opening times, booking, restrictions (you can only pay with pin in the entire zoo) and prices can all be found on their website. You can even download the map in advance to plan out your route if you are that type of person. With COVID, things are a bit different so you have to book online a time slot and ticket, etc. We rented OV-fiets from Rotterdam Central Station and it was an easy 9 minute bike ride, but from what I could see there was plenty of parking spots (for a fee) in the car park. Information about parking and things like buggy rentals, etc. can all be found online.
While I didn’t do it, they also offer a free app that you can download for both iOS and Android devices. This app will show you the map of the zoo and possible trails. It also contains more detailed descriptions of the zoo’s residents. I think it’s a good invention to allow their guests a better experience in the zoological garden. In fact, you could do this in advance of your trip.
SUMMARY: THIS ZOO IS A MUST VISIT!
I highly recommend a day out at Blijdorp Zoo if you are on holiday in the Netherlands or like me living here and whether you have kids or not. You’ll want to spend a full day here so arrive at opening time and then plan to spend a full day seeing all the animals and playing in the playgrounds (if you bring kids). Of course, wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking A LOT! You can buy lunch at the many food places, but we brought some salads from AH and ate them on a bench near the pond. Either way, I’m certain it’s impossible to not have a great day at this zoo. If we lived closer, I’d get a membership. When we lived in North Norfolk, we had a membership to the Amazona Zoo in Cromer – while small, we loved to visit. I would take my good camera and take photos of the kids and the animals – especially during the daily feedings.
Have you been to the Rotterdam Zoo? Any tips for my return visit with the kids apart from brining my good camera? Send me a private message or comment below.
Visiting Rotterdam, check out my blog posts Maeslantkering: Visiting the Storm Surge Barrier A Day Out In Rotterdam The Euromast – Experience the most stunning views of Rotterdam Top 8 Things For Families To Do In Rotterdam