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… Go to the Dortmund Zoo?

What’s it like to go to the Dortmund Zoo?

Well, Lyons Cub has already been at the Nashville Zoo, the Wuppertal Zoo, the Duisburg Zoo, the Aquazoo in Duesseldorf, the Cologne Zoo, the Fauna Park in Solingen, the Solingen Bird and Animal Park, and the Reuschenberg Animal Park in Leverkusen, so he had something to compare it to. And I must say, the Dortmund Zoo is one of the best of all — only, we shouldn’t have gone there in February, because it was so cold and wet there were no people there, and the animals were either hiding or sleeping 😉

We took two different trains via Duesseldorf to get to the city of Dortmund. As is usual for the German railway system (this mommy knows, because she works for an academy training railroad construction workers), many trains were late. We left around 11 a.m. and arrived at about 2 p.m., so it took about an hour longer than we had anticipated, including the wait times at the stations. Oh well; we had snacks with us. We finally made it to Dortmund main station:

From there on, we took a taxi, because it was already late and too bothersome to figure out public transportation.

The taxi dropped us off right in front of Dortmund Zoo:

Right at the entrance, there is also the zoo shop, and my son said immediately that we would be going there after our excursion, to “pick out something nice.” He would pick a tiny plush flamingo, a plastic bear, and a water toy looking like a Gameboy where you had to push buttons to make rings float through the water and wrap themselves over a plastic pole to score points.

Below, you can see the layout of Dortmund Zoo:

The entrance fee was quite cheap, EUR 7.00 for adults and EUR 4.50 for children. We received a map of the zoo, but we didn’t use it as we just walked towards to tropical houses first, in order to keep warm and dry 😉 What is striking on the map is the five “Baustelle” — there were lots of construction sites; many animals received new houses and habitats. We walked by the flamingos first, which were all hiding in their glass enclosure. The lake around them was drained. Right behind them was a big, old-fashioned farm house with cows, pigs, guinea pigs, and goats, where we sought refuge from the rain for a bit.

There were no animals in the petting zoo (“Streichelzoo”), but we were able to touch the goats in their stable. The two big piggies made weird grunting sounds 😉 Leander did not dare to pet them; instead, he went over to the goats. In the video, you can hear him saying, when walking into the farm house, “Mommy, there is nobody here; not a single person is here!” He was right about that… The only members of the human species we detected were at the restaurant later.

We also saw some pigeons in the farm house.

After visiting the farm house, we walked over to the lake with the penguins. They were actually from a zone on the Equator line, so they didn’t live in ice and snow but were used to a warm climate. They had a very strong current and were swimming astonishingly fast against it. We saw them waddling towards us and jumping into the water. They swam past us, some even jumping out of the water, and we could see their big bellies through the glass window. They were obviously very well fed 🙂

Then, we went into a building that housed otters, an armadillo, and a tank full of piranhas.

We came past aviaries with very noisy parrots.

Right in front of the aviaries was a binky tree (my son never had a binky, except for in the NICU):

The aviary was totally empty, as all the birds were seeking shelter in their bird houses that people couldn’t enter:

There was also a cool play kangaroo where children could climb into its belly:

Two fat, gray bunnies were cowering on their logs. I’m sure their fur kept them warm. Some more were in the stables.

We had chicken nuggets and French fries with mayonnaise (as the Germans do, even if Americans prefer them with ketchup) at a nice restaurant. There was also a vast playground with cool attractions next to it, but it was too wet to enjoy it.

The common squirrel monkeys (“Totenkopfaeffchen,” literally “little skull monkeys”) were a favorite of ours. It was fun to watch them taking some seeds or peppers from their feeding stations and then taking off on their ropes, jumping from branch to branch.

The cutest animals we saw today were the emperor tamarins (“Schnurrbarttamarin,” literally, moustache tamarins), which were named that way because they looked a bit like German Emperor Wilhelm II (1859-1941) 😉

There were a few tapirs grazing on the wet meadow in their enclosure. One had an excellent view of them from an observation platform:

And there was a strange, colorful bird staring at us:

The last animals we wanted to see (we only saw about half the zoo, because it was so cold and late) were the lions:

Of course, they were all three inside: A big male and two young females. They barely raised their heads to see us. Sleepily, they lay close together under the warm lights.

After a short stop in the zoo shop, we’re on our way back home again, because Dortmund zoo closes its doors at 4:30 p.m., and we were ready to leave half an hour earlier due to the cold. During the layover at the train station, we went to McDonald’s and enjoyed some hot chocolate and hot chai tea.

Well, the day would have been perfect in good weather. We’re planning to come back some day in summer, maybe with Leander’s friends, to see more animals outside in the sunshine.

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