How do you describe a place that holds a special spot in your heart? I’ve always liked the Antwerp Zoo a lot, from when I was a small child and we occasionally visited by train (Central Station lies next to it, Belgian railways offer a combi-deal) and you were still allowed to feed the elephants.
When I moved to Antwerp a couple of years ago I immediately became a member of the Antwerp Zoo, which meant I got a pass to enter all year. The back exit of the zoo was three blocks from my street, so every time I went down town during the day, I returned home through the zoo. In my apartment on the 12th floor (with a view of the city including the zoo) we sometimes heard strange noices carried with the wind. After consulting with the zookeepers, turns out it was the roaring of the lions. Pretty magical to hear them in your bedroom in the middle of the city.
Even though I moved I’m still a member and visit a lot. I don’t make ‘full tours’ very often, I usually pass through every couple of weeks. I have a few favourite places within the zoo which I put on my route. On my first visit as a member I spotted a baby tapir taking a swim, and completely fell in love, they’re still one of my favourite animals to visit. The sea otter and baby elephant are precious too. The bird house has a special incubator with chicken eggs hatching, and the architecture on the outside (art nouveau) is beautiful too. And last but not least a special mention must go to the gardeners, who keep the grounds in excellent shape (see the picture, April 2008). Every season an abundance of flowers and decoration for festivities, and there are also a large number of ancient trees.
I knew describing the Antwerp Zoo would be a bit hard for me, I can’t seem to stop gushing :) So I’ll stop and just post some pictures. I seriously recommend visiting, but be aware that it can get very busy during the summer months and sunny weekends.