Why are some zoos free

Zoos and petting zoos in the NRW area

Sweet meerkats cuddle in groups, in the mixed enclosure the rheas love the okapi and in the petting zoo billy goats and bog snails have their heads scratched. Such a zoo, petting zoo or game reserve is an excellent destination for first dates, family trips or photo safaris. And many of them can also be visited free of charge. Here we reveal where you can meet animals in the Ruhr, Rhineland and Bergisches Land.

And the Corona notice greets you every day: Many zoos are open again after the lockdown, but this should be checked individually before arrival - experience has shown that the situation can change quickly again. Of course, the known hygiene measures apply.

Zoo in Dortmund

Fallow deer enclosure in the Süggelwald | Dortmund

Dortmund and nature? That is not a contradiction at all. In fact, there are countless green spots in Dortmund. In the far north there is, for example, the Süggelwald forest with a forest nature trail, high stand and fallow deer enclosure. The approximately twelve adult animals and their young can be observed from a distance and are sometimes so tame that they eat out of hand (only natural food). A nice bit of nature!
Süggelwald fallow deer enclosure, Süggelweg 1, Dortmund; free entry

Apiary | Dortmund

Well, who would like to cuddle a few bees? At first glance, the apiary in Dortmund's Rombergpark does not necessarily have the greatest highlight character, but if you want to deal with the busy insect companions in times of bees dying, this is the right place for you. In addition to a colony of bees in a glass box, there are plenty of information options, from an anatomical bee model to clear information boards.
Training apiary, Am Rombergpark 35, Dortmund, by appointment

Zoo | Hamm

Big cats, primates and reptiles are not the tame petting companions, but they can be observed excellently in the Hammer Tierpark and from a suitable distance. The Natural History Museum, on the other hand, is now history itself.
Tierpark, Grünstraße 150, Hamm; Admission: adults € 7.50, children € 4.50

Animal parks in Essen

Game gate | eat

In the middle of Essen's Heissiwald there is a six-hectare game gate. Above all, native forest and meadow inhabitants live here, such as red deer and fallow deer, wild boars and mouflons, which are also known as wild sheep. The calves, piglets and lambs that you can watch are always as sweet as sugar. Incidentally, the facility is popular not only because of the nature and relaxation factor in Essen, but also because of the free entry.
Wildgatter, Im Heissiwald, Essen; free entry

Zoo in Bochum

Zoo | Bochum

For a detour to the North Sea you don't need to drive for hours: just head to Bochum's city park! There is a North Sea world with a sea basin in the small but very fine zoo, in which seals and Humboldt penguins cavort. The bird world can be explored in a walk-in aviary or in the stork enclosure. Dunes have even been poured in. An aquarium house further stimulates the game of long-distance travel: Here sharks and tropical fish swim between coral reefs. If you like it drier, you can go to the terrarium house or the fossilium or enjoy donkeys, squirrel monkeys, coatis, keas, loris, etc.
Zoo, in the city park, Bochum; Admission: adults € 8, children € 4.50 (under 3 years free)

Parrot Park | Bochum

Hustle and bustle in the macaw aviary and acute danger of being shot in the petting zoo. Such a trip to the 3000 square meter parrot park, which can be visited free of charge, harbors some surprise herds. Around 250 species cavort in aviaries, cages and enclosures, some of which are even for sale. Anyone who has brought such a friendly feathered animal into their home can also attend seminars and workshops here.
Parrot Park, Gersteinring 5, Bochum; free entry

Animal parks in Oberhausen and Mülheim

Animal enclosure in the Kaisergarten | Oberhausen

This animal enclosure, which is accessible free of charge, attaches particular importance to animal welfare, child-friendly orientation and inclusive offers. Above all, native wild animals can be found here, for example red deer, woolly and wild boars, Shetland ponies and sheep, goats, snouts, but also lynxes, wolves and one or the other raccoon. Picnic areas are plentiful, and there is a spacious park around them that invites you to take a stroll.
Animal enclosure, Im Kaisergarten, Oberhausen; free entry

Witthausbusch game reserve | Mülheim

Mülheim's largest inner-city park offers not only a lot of green to lazy and stroll, but also a petting zoo with a goose pond and a game reserve with human-friendly fallow deer and mouflons.
Witthausbusch game reserve, Semmelweissstrasse, Mülheim; free entry

Animal parks around Recklinghausen

Natural Game Park Granat | Holders

Anyone who longs for closer contact with deer, buck, llama or even kangaroo will get the opportunity to do so in the natural game park Granat. On 600,000 square meters of the most beautiful forest and meadow landscape, people can encounter animals roaming around freely, from various deer and bird species to wild boar, lynx and wolves. Admittedly, the latter naturally have their own set-up enclosures.
Granat natural game park, Eichenhof on Dorfstrasse 4, Haltern-Lavesum; Admission: adults € 5, children € 3

Zoo in the north of North Rhine-Westphalia

Dülmen & Merfelder Bruch wildlife park | Dülmen

The wildlife park in Dülmen offers a lot of natural flair. Strictly speaking, this is already in the Münsterland region, but it is worth a visit. Here you can walk through 250 hectares of forest, meadow and pasture and encounter free-range heather sheep, sheep, roe deer and deer. And if you are in the area, you should visit the Merfelder Bruch, which is not far away - because the last wild horses in Europe live there. And watching them from a distance in the scenic landscape of the Bruch is certainly not just something for Wendy subscribers.
Wildlife Park on Hinderkingsweg, Dülmen; free entry
Wild horse track in the Merfelder Bruch, Dülmen; free entry

Herford Zoo

A trip to the zoo in Herford is worthwhile thanks to 650 animals from 70 species. Including exotic species such as ring-tailed lemurs, maras and white-eared turacos. You have to have a lot of patience if you want to spot the three-headed lynx family in their large territory. It is easier there to hit the large petting meadow and pat the head of more sociable colleagues.
Herford Zoo, Stadtholzstrasse 234, Herford; Admission: adults € 6.50, children € 3

Zoo in Düsseldorf and the surrounding area

Grafenberg Forest Wildlife Park | Dusseldorf

In the middle of the state capital, various animal species bustle and frolic in the Grafenberger Wald wildlife park. The wildlife park in the forest takes up 40 hectares (almost 40 soccer fields, to use the Germans' most popular comparison) - and they are used! Red deer, roe deer, wild boar, mouflon and also European predatory game such as foxes, polecats and wild cats live here. You can get up close and personal with the fallow deer in the open-air enclosure, but only if the animals feel like it. You can simply bring a few carrots and apples with you from home or use one of the automatic feeders in the park. Other food may not be brought with you, as the animals could not tolerate it. For similar reasons, dogs are also not allowed on the premises. The park is also great for relaxing. There are plenty of tables and benches to linger, and there is a playground for the little ones. In the middle of Düsseldorf!
Grafenberger Wald wildlife park, Rennbahnstrasse 60, Düsseldorf; free entry

Tannenbusch Zoo | Dormagen

The Tannenbusch zoo in Dormagen has set itself the task of offering the wildlife that is native or formerly native to the region a species-appropriate habitat and at the same time to convey an awareness of their own environment to the visitors of the park. Founded in 1958 with a single fawn, the park is now home to around 130 mammals and over 100 waterfowl and chicken of over 25 species. The park team fulfills its educational duty with the help of a forest school for nature-oriented lessons (whether as a school class or as a "private" parent / child group), a natural history museum and a nature discovery trail.
Tierpark Tannenbusch, Im Tannenbusch, Dormagen; free entry

Game enclosure | Grevenbroich

The game reserve in Grevenbroich measures 70 hectares. Around 200 wild animals and domestic animals are at home on this area and can be observed by you in their natural habitat. The inhabitants include Sika, fallow deer, mouflon and wild boar, moorland and heather sheep, water fowl, donkeys, Dexter cattle, Cameroon sheep and goats - a whole lot. Children are very welcome guests: There is a petting zoo, a multifunctional playground and a green classroom where you can learn all kinds of things about our animal neighbors. Even so, the game reserve is an excellent destination and with its tables, benches and small houses offers many picnic options. Although all paths in the game reserve are forest paths, they can still be easily accessed with wheelchairs or walking aids.
Game enclosure, Kaiserallee, Grevenbroich; free entry

Animal parks in the Bergisches Land

Solingen Bird and Animal Park | Solingen

Originally only feathered inhabitants could be observed in the Solingen bird and animal park, but that has now changed. The name gives it away. In addition to a wide variety of bird species, there are now also llamas, coatis, goats, ponies and even an albino kangaroo called "Lumpi" on the site. There is also a children's playground and a kiosk where you can buy various goodies - sweets for you, animal feed for the residents. Dogs are allowed on the premises on a leash.
Solingen Bird and Animal Park, Hermann-Löns-Weg 71, Solingen; Admission: adults € 5, children € 2.50

Animal park fauna | Solingen

The Fauna zoo in Solingen is home to local as well as “exotic” animals that can be observed by visitors: lynxes, coatis, pheasants and parrots, to name just a few of the residents. Younger visitors can feed some animals themselves, for which there is extra animal feed at the cash desk. There is also a playground and special tours are offered for children's birthdays.
Fauna zoo, Lützowstr. 347, Solingen; Admission: adults € 5, children € 2.50

Ice Age game reserve Neandertal | Mettmann

Three animal species from the Ice Age live here in this spacious area: the bison, the tarpan and the primeval. These are wild cattle, wild forest horses and aurochs that live here in the middle of the picturesque nature reserve in the game reserve. It takes a good hour to hike around. The game reserve is open daily and can be visited free of charge.
Ice Age game reserve Neandertal, Talstrasse 300, Mettmann; free entry

Ehrenberg game reserve and Nordpark | Wuppertal

Wuppertal boasts two game reserves in the urban area. On the Ehrenberg, there are fallow deer and mouflons hidden in the forest, but they should not be petted or fed. In the Nordpark, on the other hand, you can delight the fallow deer with food from the machine. Neither of the two game enclosures requires entry.
Game reserve on the Ehrenberg, Ehrenberger Strasse, Wuppertal; free entry
Game reserve in the Nordpark, Mallack 1, Wuppertal; free entry

Zoo in Cologne and the surrounding area

Lindenthal Zoo | Cologne

You can find the Lindenthaler Tierpark in the city forest of Cologne. Many different animal species are at home here, including highland cattle, Dutch goats, fallow deer, domestic sheep, dwarf goats and donkeys. The zoo is designed to be barrier-free. Dogs are not allowed on the premises. For safety reasons, only the food offered on the premises may be used for feeding.
Lindenthaler Tierpark, Marcel-Proust-Promenade 1, Cologne; free entry

Dünnwald Wildlife Park | Cologne

On the right bank of the Rhine in the direction of Gladbach is the Dünnwald wildlife park. Among other things, a herd of bison lives here, which is very closely related to the American bison. At the beginning of the 20th century they were on the verge of extinction, now the population is back to 3000 animals worldwide. Only recently was a herd released into the wild in the Rothaargebirge, so that for the first time in half a millennium bisons are back in the wild in Germany. Four bisons live in the Dünnwald Wildlife Park and will hopefully multiply there. Apart from this attraction, you can also visit fallow deer, mouflon and wild boar here - with a guide if you wish.
Game Park Dünnwald, Am Wildpark, Cologne; free entry

Aachen zoo

The Aachen zoo also operates under the name Euregiozoo. After all, it is not only local artifacts that cavort here to be petted, but also all kinds of animals from all over the world in various enclosures. About 1000 animals of 200 species and races can be found on almost nine hectares - wow! From ostriches to camels to tiny birds from exotic regions, there is really a lot to discover here. Also good to know: the Aachen zoo can be visited 365 days a year.
Aachen Zoo, Obere Drimbornstrasse 44, Aachen; Admission: adults € 6.40, children € 3.20

Reuschenberg Wildlife Park | Leverkusen

The Reuschenberg wildlife park in Leverkusen extends over an area of ​​60 hectares! Over 200 animals from 80 different wild and domestic species live on it. That's what I call biodiversity. Whether Carpathian lynx, heather snuck, white stalk, eagle owl, red fox or porcupine, you can learn a lot about nature here. A large children's playground, a picnic area and a bistro invite you to stop off and linger.
Reuschenberg Wildlife Park, Am Reuschenberger Busch 6, Leverkusen; free entry