Jewellery & Animals: A Trip to Hellabrunn Zoo

We have woken up to the first warm winter’s day of our time in Munich. The sun is shining, and that makes for a perfect excuse for a break from all the crazyness of setting up an international exhibition! We travel across the city and find ourselves in a slice of eden across the Isar river…

The Munich Zoo Hellabrunn was founded in 1911 as the first Geo-zoo worldwide. The animals live according to their geographic distribution in complex communities. If you follow the icons you will travel around the world and experience our different habitats. Hellabrunn is not a zoo in the classical sense. It is more of a nature preserve within the landscape conservation area of the Isar meadows inhabited by animals that live in especially large, structured enclosures. Thanks to an extensive array of ditches and a natural landscape design, the visitor can enjoy the wonderful and unobstructed view of animals that could normally only be obtained on safari.” [source]

While exhibiting my film The Chimera Artist as part of Munich Jewellery Week 2019 we took a break from the madness of the jewellery world to escape into the natural beauty of Hellabrunn Zoo.

Hellabrunn is known as the world’s first Geo-zoo. This means that the animals live in their habitats according to where they are geographically located, so, if you follow the correct paths you travel around the globe and experience a whole world of animal communities.
I loved experiencing this concept. Environmental education became intrinsic through this layout, and while not all the signs were available in English, I was able to learn just by walking.
It was more like wandering around a form of nature preserve than a traditional zoo, as the zoo’s designers had made use of ditches, and natural landscaping to allow for unobstructed views of the animals in their huge, natural enclosures.
As we walked round, we were really taken by just how beautiful this zoo was, and how well-designed all the enclosures were. The natural beauty was breathtaking, and the habitats for the animals were better than anywhere I have visited before. I was so so impressed. If you are in the Munich area, Hellabrunn Zoo is a must visit destination.

With well over 100 different species of animals at Hellabrunn Zoo there are plenty of incredible creatures to see, and more critter highlights than I can mention in one post! For me, I was really excited to see the troupe of elegant Asian Elephants at home in their distinguished Elephant House, the elusive Fishing Cats, the bizarre looking Maned Wolf, an adorable plethora of sleek black House Mice in the aptly name Haus Maus shed, the square-faced Manul cat, being able to get so close to a majestic swimming, farting Indian Rhinoceros, and watching Polar Bear mother and cub playing so joyfully with a bucket in their huge pool of water.

That last one was a real highlight. I have never seen animals play so joyfully in captivity like I did with the two Polar Bears of Hellabrunn. In that moment, standing under the Winter sun, inches away from two colossal white bears; that were so captivated by their games, and so happy playing with one another, that I could not help but feel completely euphoric. I could have stayed there all day, and we later did return, on our way out, to chance one more glimpse at these magnificent animals… I was so happy to see them cuddled up in the mud with contented sleepy faces.
This was a moment of pure bliss. It was perfect.

Did you know? Polar Bears have air spaces between the hairs of their coats that trap in their body heat, and help to prevent heat loss; which is why they are perfectly adapted to suit their Arctic environments. The fur is oily and water repellent, which allow the polar bears to easily shake themselves dry after a swim.

Conservation, education, protection, and awareness are a huge part of any zoo, and Hellabrunn is making great waves in all of these areas.
They have a Conservation Centre which you can visit on site, and it is aptly located next to the Orangutan’s enclosure. The centre “provides an important forum for sharing knowledge and fostering discussion. Visitors to the zoo have an opportunity to learn about a wide range of conservation projects, as well as the importance of biological diversity and the role of zoos in international wildlife conservation through a permanent exhibition and a series of special exhibitions and lectures.” You can learn more about the permanent exhibition Biodiversity: Nature’s Diversity under Threat by visiting this link.

Hellabrunn Zoo also has a team of volunteer wildlife ambassadors that are situated in mobile information kiosks around the zoo. These information stands allow visitors to ask questions, and engage in the zoo’s conservation projects, and commitment to biodiversity, as well as learning what we can all do as individuals to support wildlife conservation, and the protection of our natural environments.

While visiting The Conservation Centre, and the information stands, I learned that Hellabrunn Zoo is a key participant in the European Endangered Species Programme. You can learn more about which species they are helping to conserve here. As well as working with species close to home, they are also important supporters of international conservation projects, including conserving the Humboldt Penguin, the Sumatran Orangutan, and the Polar Bear. You can find more information about these conservation projects, and more here.


I was really impressed by Hellabrunn Zoo. It is, by far, the best zoo I have visited so far, and I cannot praise it higher than that. It was just glorious! If you are in, or visiting, the Munich area, make sure it is up the top of your itinerary! You will not regret a trip to Tierpark!!!

Tierpark Hellabrunn Zoo at a glance…

Opening Hours
01/04/2019 – 27/10/2019 = 09:00 – 18:00
from 28/10/2018 = 09:00 – 17:00
24/12 & 31/12/2019 = 09:00 – 16:00

Adults = 15.00 EUR
Children (4-14) = 6.00 EUR
Small Family (1 adult + own children) = 19.00 EUR
Large Family (both parents + own children) = 33.00 EUR

Getting There
Address: Tierparkstraße 30, 81543 München, Germany OR use Google Maps here.

Additional Information
There are two entrances, and both have a fully equipped visitor information service, with English speaking staff.
The Zoo is fully accessible.
Dogs are allowed in Hellabrunn, but they must be kept on a short leash, and owners must adhere to the zoo rules.
There are two gift shops, two restaurants, three cafes, and variety of food and drink kiosks dotted throughout the park, as well as a good amount of accessible toilets, most with baby-changing facilities.
You can adopt an animal at Hellabrunn as well as show your support by donating.

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