Family day out: Zagreb ZOO

red panda at Zagreb ZOO
red panda at Zagreb ZOO

We visited Zagreb Zoo with our kids in June 2020. It was our second day trip post-lockdown last year. I don’t know why it has taken me almost a year to write about our family day out to Zagreb ZOO. Sometimes I blog immediately about our family adventures, sometimes it takes me forever to get in the mood to write. Anyway, we all had lots of fun exploring the ZOO. However, I didn’t take many photos so don’t expect to see plenty of images of animals in this post.

Zagreb ZOO is the biggest ZOO in Croatia. It is located within the huge Maksimir Park, near the Maksimir football stadium. Zagreb ZOO was founded in 1925 and there are more than 350 animal species. I’ve visited the ZOO several times previously but this was our first family visit.

Maksimir Park, the ZOO is in one part of the park

We drove to Zagreb, making only one short stop to stretch the legs. The kids weren’t too bothered with the long drive. We didn’t go alone to Zagreb, our friends who have a young daughter came with us. It is always a good idea to go on family day trips with another family, because the kids then have more fun.

It was a sunny Saturday and it seemed like all the families with young children had the same idea as we did because the ZOO was full of young kids. It was unusual to see so many people in one place even though it’s an outdoor space but spending almost 2 months at home made that experience surreal. Little did we know, that lockdowns would become a ˝new normal˝ in our lives.

trying to take a family photo

Walking through the ZOO felt like walking in the park. But a park where you can see zebras and eagles and monkeys and crocodiles. I didn’t know how my daughter would react to all the animals and their sounds and smells but she seemed very interested in her surroundings (she was only 9months old then). She was beaming with a smile for most of our visit. Occasionally I took her out of her stroller and carried her in my arms and showed her the animals over the fence. She also took several short naps. My son walked around the ZOO and/or drove his tricycle. He also ran around with his friend. Of course, we also spent some time at the children’s playground within the ZOO.

As expected the monkeys were the funniest and the coolest animals we saw. One monkey came all the way to the glass fence to see the kids peering at him. That was very amusing for my kids. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the biggest star of the ZOO in my son’s eyes because he was sleeping and showed us only his huge, brown bottom. My son loves teddy bears and he was so excited that he was going to see a real bear but the bear had decided that meeting my son wasn’t as important as his afternoon nap.

We didn’t visit any of the indoor pavilions because it wasn’t easy to do so with a stroller and I didn’t really feel like going into dark spaces to see snakes and spiders and amphibians. I guess it was also too hot for many animals because most of them were sleeping in the shades far from our inspecting eyes and it was only June.

After almost two hours of looking at the animals it was time for lunch. There is a restaurant near the sea lions pool. It has a great selection of hot meals and desserts. Of course, they also sell ice-cream which is always a popular choice with the kids. We had a hearty meal and regained enough energy to see the rest of the inhabitants of the ZOO. While we were eating, we were watching the big sea lions playing with the ball. That was interesting for our kids too. What I found useful was that the restaurant had children toilets as well as baby changing facilities. It is not common to find that in Croatian restaurants.

After the lunch we saw the wolves and many other animals. A special experience was a small petting zoo. The kids were allowed to pet the baby goats. I was delighted to see the red pandas. They are so beautiful, aren’t they? It was thrilling to see the lions. I managed to get a good shot of a regal looking lioness. I must say I’d expected to see the giraffes and the elephants and the tigers but apparently they don’t live in Zagreb ZOO. It wasn’t possible to go inside the lemurs enclosure and a few other enclosures too. They are usually open for visitors but I guess they were closed because of Covid-19.

the lioness
zagreb zoo
Zagreb ZOO

All in all, the kids had fun and they have definitely experienced something new. They were properly exhausted by the end of the afternoon. As I’ve already mentioned we weren’t able to see all the animals but we will visit the ZOO in Zagreb again. However, I must say that visiting a ZOO raises a few ethics questions but those will have to be addressed as the kids grow older. There is really no point in explaining to a 2 year old why are the animals behind the fences. However, there is an educational path in the ZOO with a cage for humans. Not a bad idea at all.

Linking up with ZenBabytravel for Cultured Kids #66

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19 thoughts

  1. Sounds like a lovely day out. I do think the petting zoo can be one of the most fun areas – I have a picture of a goat eating my skirt at one I visit recently. I can’t pick between a lemur and a red panda as my absolute favourite animal. It is interesting to see how different zoos can be – we visited one in Moscow which was kneed deep in snow and saw arctic wolves in their element. Bristol Zoo has a more tropical vibe with its botanical gardens and walk through lorikeet aviary. I’d love to explore some more, including this one. #CulturedKids

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  2. I do love a good zoo visit and this one looks particularly good! I think one of the most memorable ones from our travels is the one in Berlin – have you been? #culturedkids

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  3. I love seeing wild animals … fortunately we have a lot of national parks here in South Africa and we can see them in their own habitat. But I assume for a child, the zoo is probably the best place to introduce them to animals.
    Love your photo’s 👍🏻.

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  4. Your post reminded me of many happy outings with my kids when they were younger. We’re lucky in Toronto to have the largest zoo in Canada with over 280 hectare of land. It’s pretty much impossible to cover it all in one day and I’d get a yearly pass to give us unlimited visits. Most of the zoo is outdoors and the kids could run around until they were exhausted. As you say, for the outdoor exhibits the humans were fenced in away from the animals – much more humane.

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  5. Wow, what a beautiful and spacious zoo! I had no idea that it existed in Zagreb, which is a shame as I’d visited Zagreb three years ago…looks to be a fun place to spend the day in, all the while taking in the wonderful animals there. 🙂

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