Schönbrunn Zoo

Giant pandas
Giant pandas
Seal feeding
Seal feeding
Panorama train
Panorama train

Like the Botanic Garden at Schönbrunn, the Menagerie was originally founded by Emperor Franz Stephan, who had a profound interest in natural history. Based on designs by his court architect Nicolas Jadot dating to 1751, a menagerie was constructed consisting of thirteen animal enclosures arranged radially around a central pavilion. The enclosures were completed by 1752 but the central pavilion was not finished until 1759.
The individual enclosures, each with its own pool, were separated from one another by high walls and from the central pavilion by a grating framed by pilasters and crowned by vases and groups of animals, through which the animals could be viewed. The back of the enclosure was formed by a 'lodge' or hut  providing shelter for the animals at night.
In a lower-lying area to the west is a two-storeyed building intended as accommodation for the keepers. Beyond this is a pool and roosting pens for water fowl.

The central single-storeyed pavilion where the imperial couple occasionally took breakfast, forms the visual emphasis of the great diagonal axis connecting the centre of the palace and the pavilion. The pavilion is elevated on an octagonal plinth and can be accessed via four entrances. The shallow projecting sections on four sides of the building have semi-circular arched doorways and pediments decorated with figures. In between are segmentally-arched window embrasures. The bell-shaped domed roof is crowned with a continuous balustrade.
Originally painted green, the interior was refurbished shortly after 1765 on the orders of Maria Theresa as a memorial room for her late husband, with rich rocaille-work wooden panelling, mirrors and paintings of rare birds and animals. The paintings are attributed to Johann Michael Purgau and show "... likenesses of a fitting number of animals that have been in the Menagerie since its foundation“. The twelve paintings show very rare animals which were in fact not present in the imperial Menagerie at that time, but were highly desirable collector's items.

The shallow dome of the interior is decorated with a ceiling fresco by Josef Ignaz Mildorfer showing scenes from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Besides the Bacchanalian revels centering on the lovers Bacchus and Ariadne, various episodes are represented in which humans are transformed into animals.

The initial animal collection at Schönbrunn was formed by the stock of animals from the former palace of Neugebäude and the menagerie belonging to the Belvedere. These animals - with the exception of the "rapacious" beasts – were moved to the new menagerie at Schönbrunn. The number of exotic animals subsequently increased through new acquisitions and gifts. Both the zoological and botanical collections benefited from the expeditions to the West Indies financed by Franz Stephan.

The opening of the gardens to the general public in 1779 also included free admission to the menagerie. Joseph II continued the upkeep of the menagerie, and expeditions untertaken during the 1780s contributed new specimens to the collection. However, ignorance of the correct conditions in which to keep the animals as well as lack of a suitable diet led to regular losses.
During the course of the 19th century new animals were added to the collection, existing enclosures being adapted as well as new enclosures built. The attractions included elephants, camels, kangaroos and other exotic fauna.
A sensation was caused by the arrival of the first live giraffe, the gift of the Egyptian viceroy, in 1828. The enthusiastic Viennese flocked to the menagerie in their thousands "in order to satisfy at last their burning curiosity by looking at this most peculiar of creatures". The arrival of the giraffe had an effect on fashion and social life – dresses, accessories and hairstyles "à la Giraffe" were popular, and at a "Giraffe Fête" held at the establishment of the "Black Grape" in the district of Penzing, the Alexandrian giraffe-keeper was guest of honour. Despite being given the best care possible, the giraffe died after only ten months, and it was not until 23 years later that the menagerie was able to add a giraffe to its collection again.

From Menagerie to Zoological Garden
At the end of the 19th century the appearance and objectives of the menagerie at Schönbrunn were to change and in time a modern zoological garden evolved out of the Baroque menagerie. The walls between the enclosures were knocked down in 1880 and replaced by bars, so that "the specimens may be viewed more conveniently".
After 1900 the zoo was extended eastwards as far as the Neptune Fountain, on the site of the former Small Pheasantry, in order to accommodate the animals more appropriately. In 1914 the zoo had a total of 3,470 animals, the highest number it was ever to contain.

You can obtain further information (opening hours, admission charges, etc.) about the zoo on the website of the zoo Schönbrunn.

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