Founded in 1899, Rostock Zoo sprawls across 56 hectares to the southwest of the city center. It is one of the largest zoos in Northern Germany, with around 4,500 animals across more than 350 species, including orangutans, gorillas and polar bears. Its animal enclosures are set within a landscaped park that’s dotted with sculptures and artworks while featuring a vast range of plant species from across the globe.

The Rostock Zoo was subjected to heavy air bombings during World War II and many of its buildings and animal enclosures were destroyed. In 1951, rebuilding work began, with many people from the town volunteering to work on the project that led to the enlargement and renaming of the zoo as the Zoologischen Garten Rostock.

During the 1960s, the zoo became the largest breeder of Arabian horses in East Germany and the first polar bear was born here in 1963. Since 1980, the Rostock Zoo has been the primary keeper of polar bears within the European Endangered Species Programme and a cutting-edge enclosure called the Polarium is currently being built to house these endearing creatures.

In 2012, the Rostock Zoo opened the Darwineum, a living museum that follows the creation of the universe and the evolution of species. It features Theme Boxes with living fossils and Germany’s largest circular jellyfish tank, as well as a Tro-penhalle where gibbons, gorillas, orangutans and De Brazza’s monkeys are exhibited. In addition to its animal displays, the Darwineum also has an exhibition showcasing the cultural evolution of Man.