A Day at Artis Amsterdam Royal Zoo


After discovering the hotel breakfast was fantastic, we went again, ordering omelets and making our own lattes. Inspired by the no-frills coffee, I decided that we were getting an espresso maker immediately upon our return.

Then we headed over to Centraal Station, where we bought City Passes. These would allow us to explore numerous museums and destinations in Amsterdam for a fixed price. After doing the math, we decided that the passes were worth it, especially since admissions quickly added up.

From the train station, we walked towards North Holland.  

It was pleasantly foggy. Quieter, definitely, than the heart of the city. We paused by NEMO Museum.  We watched retirees play tennis. We passed through Jodenbuurt, the former Jewish Quarter, where we stood by the Auschwitz Monument: panels of broken mirror to honor the victims of Auschwitz.

We reached Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. Built in 1638, it was initially established as an “herb garden with medical plants for Amsterdam doctors and pharmacists” when the plague was raging. In the latter half of the 17th century, the botanical garden housed a collection of plants brought by traders of the Dutch East India Company.

The park was quiet and peaceful. There were various greenhouse-styled buildings, in which plants from different climates snaked and danced. Some plants were 2,000 years old– others were 300 years! We walked on the narrow metal bridges, 3 feet wide and 15 feet high. We passed by a grandmother clutching the baby’s hood like a leash.

Next door was the Artis Amsterdam Royal Zoo, the oldest zoo in the Netherlands and fifth oldest zoo in the world. Normally, I’m uneasy about zoos, because it makes me sad to see animals in captivity. I was initially very against our visit, but eventually softened. Imagine how my joy at seeing some of the happiest, most playful, and uncaged creatures I’d ever seen! Monkeys swung on ropes – zebras took sand baths – sea lions scratched their backs and twirled away. The gorillas were animated; the giraffes were curious; the elephants were active.

At the lemur house, they roamed freely among us, casually crossing our paths.

artis zoo


One of my favorite parts was how spacious and natural the enclosures were. Not only that, but there was plenty of entertainment and stimulation for them. The zoo had toys, playgrounds, games and challenges. The animals had a public space, where visitors could view them, as well as a private space, where they could rest.

With so much to do, the animals were lively and energetic. Maybe… too much. Drama broke out in the gorilla house – one gorilla poked another, who was scooping food from a trunk. Pandemonium. Right before the biggest gorilla went to check out the fuss, he gave us a look: see the shit I have to deal with?

The only ghastly thing we witnessed was Tamir the Tapir pooping in the water, which two ducks immediately gobbled up.

dscf1682artis zoo

The Artis Amsterdam Royal Zoo was truly the zoo that kept on giving. There were insects, reptiles, and a full-fledged sea lion show. All of their personalities were on full display. I will say that the experience changed my perception of the zoo – at least, for the Artis – seeing the animals safe, happy and thriving. If others ever have the opportunity to visit, I would highly recommend it.

Category: Trips

3 thoughts on “A Day at Artis Amsterdam Royal Zoo

    1. It’s been fantastic so far! Fingers crossed that it continues to be a positive experience. Thank you for the read and comment. I hope some insights might help on your trip to Europe! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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