It doesn’t matter if you’re an adult or a child, you will surely find something captivatingly exciting at the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden, like the baby animals that we just wrote about. However, even if you’re paying close attention to the tags next to the animals and plants, there are some facts that you can’t find there. has collected five fun facts about the zoo.

1 One of the oldest in the world

The Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden opened its gates to visitors on the 9th of August 1866, making it one of the oldest zoos in the world. It actually celebrated its 150th birthday last year. There were 500 animals altogether, 11 big buildings on the lot, with some smaller ones, as well. Initially, the director of the zoo was Leopold Fitzinger, a zoologist from Munich, but he stepped down already before the opening, so János Xántus took over his place.

The entrance in the 1890’s / photo:

2 Empress Elisabeth’s gift to the zoo

In the early days, most of the animals residing in the zoo came from the Pannonian Basin, with only a handful exotic tenants. One of them was a giraffe gifted by Empress Elisabeth of Austria, who was Queen Consort of Hungary at that time. Her husband, Franz Joseph, King of Hungary, sent 34 animals to the zoo from Schönbrunn.

The giraffes at the Budapest Zoo / photo:

3 Ferenc Deák and the greedy bear

Ferenc Deák, 1st Minister of Justice in Hungary (during the 1848 revolution) was very keen on the zoo, making frequent visits, especially to a brown bear, named Kristóf. On one occasion, he decided to surprise the bear with a gift, but the bear wanted more: Deák tried to give the piece of meat to the bear, by pushing it close with his umbrella, but the sneaky bear took the umbrella as well.


Plenty of concerts and great wines await you between the 19th of July and 23rd of August in the Budapest Zoo

4 Elephant house or mosque?

The buildings of the zoo were rebuilt and renovated continually, as to keep up with the visitor’s demands. In the early 1900’s, the elephant house had to be rebuilt on request of the Turkish legation, as they thought it resembled a mosque and found it to be offensive.

The Elephant House today

5 Bébi, the elephant gives a hand

It was much harder to move animals even on the grounds of the zoo, as they did not use anaesthetics and the technology was not much of a help either. When the zookeepers wanted to move Jónás, the hippopotamus, they had a tough job, but came up with a smart solution. Luring him into a huge box with some treats was the easy part. The real challenge was to move the box. This is where Bébi, the trained elephant, was called to help: he pushed to box, while the zookeepers repositioned the transport rolls again and again until Jónás arrived at his new home.


featured photo:

Ce: bm


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