The Berlin Zoological Garden (Zoologischer Garten Berlin) is the oldest and best known zoo in Germany. Opened in 1844 it covers 34 hectares (84 acres) and is located in Berlin 's Tiergarten. With more than 1,500 different species and around 17,500 animals the zoo presents the most comprehensive collection of species in the world. The zoo and its aquarium had almost 3 million visitors in 2011. It is considered to be the most visited zoo in Europe and one of the most popular worldwide.
Regular animal feedings are among its most famous attractions. Globally known animals like Knut, the polar bear, and Bao Bao, the Giant Panda have contributed to the zoo's public image. The zoo collaborates with many universities, research institutes, and other zoos around the world. It maintains and promotes European breeding programmes, helps safeguard several endangered species, and participates in several species reintroduction programs. Opened on August 1, 1844 the Zoologischer Garten Berlin was the first zoo in present-day Germany. The aquarium opened in 1913. The early animals were donated by Frederick William IV, King of Prussia, from the menagerie and pheasantry of the Tiergarten.
During the Second World War, the zoo area was completely destroyed and only 91 of 3,715 animals survived, including two lions, two hyenas, an Asian bull elephant, a hippo bull, ten hamadryas baboons, a chimpanzee, and a black stork, among a few others. By the end of the war the zoo was fortified with the Zoo Tower, a huge Flak tower and one of the last remaining areas of Nazi resistance against the Red Army, and its bunkers and anti-aircraft weapons defended against allied air forces.
Following the zoo's destruction, it and the associated Aquarium have been reconstructed on the most modern principles so as to display the animals in their natural environment. The success achieved in breeding animals, including some rare species, demonstrates the efficiency of these new methods. The Berlin Zoo is the most visited zoo in Europe with approximately 3.0 million annual visitors from all over the world. It is open all year long and can easily be reached by public transportation. The Berlin Zoologischer Garten railway station (also simply known as Zoo) is one of Berlin's most important stations.