Although it is far from the largest, even for northern Europe, Helsinki
Zoo is nevertheless a must-see sight for tourists to Finland's capital
city. The setting alone is worth a visit. The Zoo is located on Korkeasaari,
a small round island, one of over a hundred that dot the landscape in
and around Finland.
Easily reached by boat, the island is a pleasant 30 minute ride from
Helsinki harbor in Kruunuvuori
bay. Once you arrive, you'll be treated to over 200 animal species with
over 1,000 plant species. Though a bit small by comparison to
the great zoos of the world, the collection offers a fascinating look
at creatures representing a range from the frozen Artic to the
In the Amazon and Africa sections there are dozens of interesting
snakes and spiders that will delight kids young and old alike. For
those who might be a bit squeamish, however, they can bypass the scary
animals and head for the frogs, lizards and turtles. These animals are
relatively unchanged from their ancestors millions of years ago and
make for fascinating study. Helsinki Zoo has plenty of parrots to amuse
visitors and the monkeys will imitate the parrots imitating the humans.
There are zebra
galore, with deer
too. The baboons even have their own castle. Try to spot which one is
king. Baboons have a very rigid and violently maintained hierarchy and
the leader is called the "king". Not far away are chamois, ibex and musk ox.
Beware the wolverines.
Don't try to feed them. Normally docile, they can be fierce when
frightened. Don't miss seeing the lemmings, who get scared for no
reason. Though don't expect them to jump off a cliff. That's a myth!
The small, Przewalski's
wild horses are always a favorite of visitors.
For examples from the frigid north the Zoo offers a look at Polar Foxes, Snowy Owls and Forest Reindeer from
Lapland, along with a great looking Snow
Leopard. Many of the animals are active winter and summer
and the zoo provides a great view all year 'round.
Wander through Borealia
and see first hand what a real Northern
Coniferous Forest looks like. Check out the rare ducks and
the many interesting plant and tree species. To see some of the
endangered species protected at the zoo just follow the "Rhino" signs.
The zoo has other great attractions like the huge, modern looking
wooden observation tower. Ten meters high (33 feet), it was built as an
engineering exercise. Its shape is something like a distorted hatbox
made of wooden ribs. From the top you can get a great view of the zoo
grounds and the surrounding sea.
If you are going to visit Helsinki,
you really should visit the zoo.