For a Scandinavian, this is a very rare sight - an African savannah, full of exotic wildlife. Zebras and elegant antelopes play among the ostriches and long-necked giraffes. In a water hole beneath a cliff, a pygmy hippopotamus frolics in his natural element. The ostriches, that can grow 3 meters tall, prance proudly about and keep a watchful eye. In a little hut by the water, you can experience the animals of the savannah at close range when they approach the water to drink, or when the pygmy hippo takes a refreshing bath.
All in all, this setting was taken right “Out of Africa” - which, incidentally, was written by a Dane. Yet, the address is Aalborg Zoo, Mølleparkvej 63, 9000 Aalborg.
For the equivalent of about EUR 5.5 million, the Zoo has recreated a piece of Africa that is now a home to various species of African origin.
Some of the savannah’s inhabitants can be seen in a circular “barn” of 700 sq. metres, with a 15 metre-high ceiling. This led to the acquisition of a new species for the zoo - the wart hog. The village also has a tropical habitat with water holes for the pygmy hippos, and an area for the ostriches. A baobab tree almost 15 metres tall and a primitive school with classroom at one end and donkeys in the other, help completing the impression of a piece of Africa transplanted in North Jutland. All the buildings in the African village are inspired by traditional African design and architecture.
The authentic surroundings make visitors feel as if they are actually roaming the Dark Continent among the wildlife. The animals look, sound and smell differently than you are used to in other zoos.
"We don’t want to merely show animals in cages", says the marketing manager at Aalborg Zoo. It gives visitors a much greater experience if the animals can be perceived through the senses, and observed in an environment as close to their natural habitat as possible.
In the artificial baobab tree you can through an interactive media learn more about the baobab tree’s life on the savannah, as well as the savannah wildlife.
All over the Zoo there are signs, brochures and monitors with information about the animals and their natural habitats.
The visitors are of course more than welcome to contact the zoo keepers for any kind of information about the animals, so please feel free to ask.