Several new habitats have significantly changed conditions for both the animals and guests. Beautiful structures and aquatic features give the animals dignity and create much more realistic guest experiences.
Founded in 1859, København Zoo sits beside Frederiksberg Gardens atop one of the city’s few hills, and despite its controversial culling practise, is admired for both its breeding programmes and its architectural animal houses.
The latter began with the Hippopotamus House in 2007, a staggered glass structure delivering light to its lumbering occupants, with concrete walls patterned like their leathery skin. Here, in their pool, the hippos’ underwater dance is viewable through armoured glass.
The Arctic Ring also offers a sub-aquatic encounter, as polar bears dive into the water from a naturalistic landscape of geometric shapes. The white concrete looks glassily ice-like in places for being cast against acrylic sheets.
Best known is Foster + Partners’ Elephant House, landscaped to contain its occupants and with two leaf-pattern-etched glass domes that recall London’s British Museum. Inside, visitors view the herd from the perimeter and descend a ramp to special exhibitions.
Sine 2018 BIG’s Panda House has hosted two giant pandas from China, its huge yin and yang shape configured to keep its male and female inhabitants mostly separate, as is key to mating conditions. Within it, an elevated walkway through Nordic plants to a bamboo forest offers the bears two different environments.