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Animal lovers will be all smiles at the Nuremberg Tiergarten

A gorilla scratches his nose inside part of the gorilla enclosure at the Nuremberg Teirgarten, Nuremberg, Germany.

MARTIN EGNASH/STARS AND STRIPES

By MARTIN EGNASH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 10, 2017

Sometimes the German names for things can throw you off. To someone who doesn’t speak German, for instance, the Nuremberg Tiergarten might sound like a place you’d want to avoid. But don’t let the name fool you; it is hardly a garden of tears. Quite the opposite, in fact. Tiergarten means zoo. And the Nuremberg Tiergarten is fantastic. 
 
The Tiergarten is a sprawling, 77-square-mile animal sanctuary just outside Nuremberg. The park, which describes itself as a “landscape zoo,” lies within the Reichswald, the old Imperial Forest, where the landscape competes with the animals for your attention. Even if it wasn’t a zoo, the sandstone cliffs, winding rivers and numerous old-growth trees would make for an impressive hike.
 
But the almost 300 species of animals obviously steal the show. Each species has a large habitat that favors natural borders over fences and bars. This makes for much more active animals that seem happier than those at many of the other zoos I’ve visited. 
 
The rhinos are a case in point. I stumbled upon one bathing in a pond with her baby just 20 feet from where I stood. They didn’t seem to notice me or the small crowd of onlookers. The surrounding trees and vegetation acted as a visual barrier, so the rhinos could be themselves without us pesky humans freaking them out. 
 
Another great experience there is the Alpine ibex exhibit. Their enclosure is a high, rocky hill, where more than a dozen ibexes climb, jump and butt heads on impressively precarious outstretches of sandstone. I’d never before seen such rambunctious, spirited creatures. 
 
To get to the big cats from the ibexes is a short hike through the aviary, which houses the spectacular Stellar’s sea eagles. The lions and tigers have large outdoor areas that converge in the middle in an indoor section.

When I walked inside, there were a lion and tiger roaring at each other from across the room, behind their see-through walls. It was like a predatory version of call-and-response, and I was the man in the middle. It was a far cry from the quiet cats I’ve seen in other zoos. 
 
The Tiergarten also has a dolphin lagoon and manatee house, where the sea life puts on shows throughout the day. You can view them from the stands or the restaurant above it. Food and drinks are available at several areas throughout the park, and you’ll find secluded grounds for picnics all over. Most have great views.
 
 If you’re in Bavaria and you’re looking for an active day trip, I highly recommend a visit to the Tiergarten. You won’t shed a tear. 
 
 
 

The Nuremberg Teirgarten 

 
DIRECTIONS
About an hour south of Grafenwoehr, just off of the A9.
 
TIMES
8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily
 
COSTS
Prices: 13.50 euros for adults ($16), 6.50 euros for children, 31.50 euros for two adults with children
 
FOOD
There is one large restaurant, along with several smaller places for snacks throughout the park.
 
INFORMATION
Phone (+49) (0) 911-54546, website: www.tiergarten.nuernberg.de/en/home.html

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