Amsterdam’s little zoo is a green space in the city centre with plenty on offer to keep the whole family entertained. Little ones can run around and let off some steam as they look at the animals. There may not be hundreds of species here, but there’s a decent selection. Just so you know, the zoo sadly had to give up its lions due to cashflow problems during the pandemic.
A lovely green space with plenty for children to discover and learn.
There’s not loads of animals (although that’s not necessarily a bad thing). The lions are sadly not here anymore. Tickets are a bit pricey at EUR 25 each.
You can book tickets online, so you don't have to wait in line with your kids...
The zoo in Amsterdam is called Artis. But where does that come from? The zoo’s full name is actually Natura Artis Magistra, which is Latin for “nature is the mistress of art”. Over time, this has been shortened to just Artis or “art”. That seems like an unusual name for a zoo, doesn’t it?
If you think about it, though, the name fits in perfectly with the zoo’s philosophy. Nature, culture and heritage are the focus here, with the acknowledgement that every tree, every animal and even every microbe has its own story to be told.
This zoo may be smaller than other zoos in Europe, but it is still divided into self-contained areas like the aviary and butterfly pavilion. Some of the enclosures are actually home to multiple species, with the zebras and giraffes living side by side and the springboks and rhinos sharing their living space.
When you buy a ticket to the zoo, you also pay for entry to the aquarium and planetarium on the same site. The zoo is set up like a botanic garden, making it the perfect place to relax and unwind.
But that’s still not everything! If you’re happy to pay a bit extra, you can access ARTIS-Micropia, the museum of microbes. The information about the smallest of life forms is accessible and makes you want to find out more.
“You don’t see microbes, but they are there. They are there when you eat, when you breathe, and when you kiss. They’re all over the place, on your hands and in your stomach, interfering with everything. […] Microbes are the smallest and most powerful organisms on our planet. […]
Artis Amtserdam The ROYAL ZOO A bit of History
The zoo was founded in 1838 as Natura Artis Magistra with the aim of encouraging people to learn more about nature.
Most zoos were still private back then, but London was one exception that was accessible to the middle classes. The idea was for Artis to follow the same model.
The zoo started off small – with mostly parrots and monkeys – until it acquired the animals from a travelling menagerie in 1839 and welcomed an elephant, lions, polar bears, zebras and more. Things were starting to get interesting!
Unfortunately, the 20th century wasn’t kind to the zoo. It went bankrupt in 1939 and the war years did nothing to help the financial situation. 50 years had passed before the zoo found itself in a stronger position as it celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1988 by opening up the planetarium.
At the start of the 2010s, it transitioned from a standard zoo to an education centre with a focus on raising awareness of the interaction between nature and people. Many of the enclosures were upgraded and extended. The microbe museum was added at this point too.
After visiting the zoo, you’ll be left with the impression that: “A better understanding of nature helps us to respect all forms of life around us”.