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Dortmund Zoo

Aktualisiert Januar 2005


Zoo Dortmund

Hinweis: Dies ist die akzeptierte Endversion von Anfang 2000 des Artikel in der im Juli 2001 erschienen “Encyclopedia of the World’s Zoos”, Fitzroy Dearborn Verlag, Chicago. Die tatsächlich erschienene Version enthält Änderungen der Redaktion

Aktuelle Informationen über den Zoo Dortmund

Note: The following portrait is the essay submitted for the “encyclopedia of the world´s zoos”, published in mid 2001. Please note that this is the pre-edit  version, not the one that was finally printed.

Dortmund Zoo (formerly Tierpark Dortmund)

 Dortmund zoo, opened in 1953, is situated on 28 hectares south of the Westphalian metropolis and gains some 750.000 visitors annually. Led by Dr. Wolf Bartmann, the zoo keeps 2500 animals out of 360 species. It specializes in South American fauna and is most famous for continuously breeding giant anteaters as well as little anteaters.

 The history of Dortmund zoo is short and only started in 1950, when in the biggest city of the eastern Ruhr territory a "Friend of the Animal Park Society" was founded. Encouraged, the city initiated the construction of a small animal park in the old Romberg park. The grounds on then 11 hectares of hilly park landscape with many big trees were opened on Whitsunday 1953. Although dedicated to native animals in the beginning, the fast growing park soon gathered exotic animals as well, though the enclosures and buildings were still quite primitive. At first the zoo was run by the city's gardens department, but after a few years it became an independent authority. Zoologist Walter Simanowski was named director in 1959.

 The zoo was considerably enlarged in 1966 and split up into geographical sections. An African savanna enclosure was built and siamang gibbons moved onto new islands. In the early 1970s it had become a zoo with large predators, sea lions and even apes. Subsequently, spacious open enclosures for mainly African and Asian ungulates and predators were built, such as roan and sable antelope, kulan, African hunting dog, Indian dhole and cheetah. At the large cat house for "Barbary" lions and Sumatran tigers, glass and special gills enabled visitors to watch young animals without disturbing their mothers.

In 1974 Dr. Wolf Bartmann took office, just in time to experience one of the most incisive events in Dortmund zoo's history: When surprisingly a giant anteater, "Archibald", was born in 1975, this not only made the zoo famous in the zoo world, it also started the zoo's specialization in South American fauna. Since then, keeping and breeding giant anteaters is a characteristic of Dortmund zoo. Nowadays here also the international studbook for all zoo living giant anteaters is coordinated, numbering to some 130. Actually 32 births in several generations delineate Europe's only continuous breeding success. This could be achieved due to intensive research on breeding biology and substitute food (it was discovered that, for instance, some peat needs to be added). Faeces is examined for hormone contents to get information on the oestus cycle of the females. For additional field studies, expeditions to Central Brasilia were organized. These results led to the construction of a special house for these fastidious animals that also houses two-toed sloths and little anteaters or tamanduas, both of which were also bred several times: Five and 14 births, respectively, took place. The tamanduas are managed in cooperation with Chicago and Krefeld zoo.

 Another main interest of Dortmund zoo today lies in the presentation of biocenosis of South American animals. For example, in a landscaped multi-species enclosures some ten species live including lowland tapir, collared peccary, chaja, jabiru, capybara and pudu as well as giant anteater. The collection of large fauna is completed by South American fur seals, vicugnas, capuchins, sakis, and spectacled bears, which have bred successfully. Other carnivores from the neotropics are represented by jaguar, puma and maned wolf, but also by bush dog, jaguarundi, and margay cat. Prehensile-tailed porcupines, several species of armadillos, and agoutis (including black agouti -not longer) represent the smaller mammals. An important collection of birds from South America includes breeding steamboat ducks, hokkos, king vultures, Andean condors, harpy eagles, caracaras and Darwin's rhea. Numerous parakeets and amazons or blunt-tailed parrots can be seen as well as the breeding complex for parrots like hyazinthine macaws.

 Even today a high value is still set on European animals. On display are uncommon and difficult to keep zoo animals as hares, roes, woodpeckers, grouse, and numerous songbirds. A children's farmyard was constructed where rare domestic breeds are kept. Most buildings at the zoo were designed in unobtrusive architecture that does not dominate both animals and landscape. For a greenhouse-like giraffe house, built in 1986, Angolan giraffes were captured in Namibia -- this highly endangered subspecies, rarely seen in zoos, has been bred very successfully since then. Field research is also part of the zoo's work. In 1991 Dr. Bartmann took part in a Russian expedition to do research on polar bears.

In 1992, the Amazon House was built, featuring three levels of neotropical rainforest setting with spacious snake, iguana, and caiman terraria, amazon aquaria, poisonous frogs, insects, and marmosets. It is also inhabited by free roaming birds, iguanas, agoutis, and sloths. A new complex for otters was opened in 1997, specially designed to keep and breed giant otters from Brasilia. Although births took place for some years, no cup survived until January 1999 when a cup was born that was cared for by its mother. Continuous successful breeding would be an important contribution to maintain a stable zoo population, as still few animals live in captivity.

 To emphasize its growing national and international importance, the zoo was recently renamed from Tierpark (animal park) to Zoo. It takes part in some 32 breeding programs and, additional to coordinating the giant anteater studbook, is preparing the studbook for South American fur seals. Education is done by specially designed graphical displays and by the zoo school. Next step in the modernization of the zoo will most likely be a new primate house to replace the old monkey and ape cages.

Dirk Petzold


  • 1953-1959 run by the city’s gardens department
  • Walter Simanowski (1959-1974)
  • Dr. Wolf Bartmann (1974-2000)
  • Dr. Frank Brandstätter (2001-)

Journals and Member Magazines / Newsletters

    - none -

Further Reading

Bartmann, Wolf, "Keeping and breeding a mixed group of large South American mammals at Dortmund zoo," International Zoo Yearbook 20, 1980


    Tierpark Dortmund
    Mergelteichstraße 80
    D-44225 Dortmund
    Telephone +49-231-502-4392
    Fax +49-231-712175


 Encyclopedia of the World’s Zoos
Hunderte ausführlicher, bebilderter Zoo-Portraits, Arten- und Artengruppen-Darstellungen und allgemeine Artikel wechseln einander ab. Die seitenlange Liste der Autoren wimmelt nur so von großen Namen.
Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers Chicago 2001, 1600 S.,
3 Bände, gebunden, um 330 Euro
leider meist vergriffen, Verlag in Konkurs