September 1, 2011
The day after returning back to Amsterdam from our visit to Nieuwe-Nierdorp dawned overcast with the distinct threat of rain hanging in the air. We had consulted a guide book which listed the top ten things to do in Amsterdam in the rain and one of the suggestions was to visit the Artis Zoo, which is something that I had already given some thought to even before we were faced with rain, so we decided to ride the tram over to the zoo, which is located only about a 10 minute ride from our hotel.
We grabbed a quick breakfast in a cafe across from the zoo entrance and then headed over to purchase tickets just as the rain began to fall. It wasn't a heavy rain, just enough to be slightly annoying and starting and stopping in frequent fits. We had umbrellas and the zoo did indeed offer plenty of indoor exhibits which kept us mostly dry and happy.
The Artis Royal Zoo or Natura Artis Magistra (Nature is the teacher of art) as it is known is a spectacular and historic zoo, located in the heart of Amsterdam. It is the largest zoo in the Netherlands and one of the largest and oldest in Europe. It was founded in 1838 and has operating continously since then. The zoo offers a beautiful, quiet oasis right in the center of the city and is home to more than 700 species of animals and over 200 species of trees including many rare species that are near extinction.
In addition to the exquisite animals and grounds, the zoo is home to many historically significant buildings including the zoological museum (1855), the library (1867), the Aquarium (1882) and the Wolf House and Masman Garden House (which both predate the zoo). also on the property are a Botanical Garden, A Geological Museum and Planetarium and the large zoological museum.
In spite of the age of the buildings and the zoo itself, the exhibits are all large and roomy for the animals and it has all the facilities of the most modern American Zoos, it is interesting to see how the obviously constant modifications have kept the zoo modernized while maintaining a historic and classic feel that is not present in most American zoos.
Kathy & I enjoyed the rainy day there immensely, we explored the entire place, taking extra time to watch some of the recent additions to the zoo. Just in the past couple of months the zoo has celebrated the births of a lion cub, a giraffe and an adorable baby elephant named Mumba. Obviously their captive breeding program is fairly successful.
We also enjoyed the insectarium and butterfly garden, which was a warm and humid escape from the chilly rain that fell just about up to the point when we left the zoo. After departing we caught the tram back and got off at the stop of the famous floating flower market. The Dutch are famous for their tulip bulbs and the flower markets sell about every variety of tulip and other native flowers as well as many other touristy item. It is beautiful, yet certainly catered to the tourist crowd. The flower market was only about a five minute walk from our hotel and since the rain had stopped we choose to walk back.