175 Years Berlin Zoo

Berlin 1841. King Wilhelm IV is modernising the small provincial capital on the Spree at full speed. Building is going on everywhere in Berlin. Industrial plants spring up like mushrooms. Berlin smokes and hisses, works and sounds. New times are dawning


The zoologist and enlightener Martin Hinrich Lichtenstein skilfully succeeds in making the idea of a public zoo palatable to King Wilhelm IV. Together with the naturalist and world traveller Alexander von Humboldt, he enthuses that the establishment of such an institution – the first in Germany – would raise Wilhelm’s prestige throughout Europe. Berlin would catch up with the main cities of London and Vienna in one fell swoop. Wilhelm liked the idea and gave Lichtenstein the grounds of the royal pheasantry at Berlin’s Tiergarten free of charge, where the zoo opened its doors for the first time in 1844. But the zoo’s international reputation was still a while in coming. On many days there is hardly a single visitor in the grounds. It was not until Prussia’s victory over France in 1871 that the collection was massively expanded and the zoo began to attract visitors.


Today, Berlin Zoo is one of the great attractions of the cosmopolitan city of Berlin with 4.5 million visitors per year in the three facilities Zoologischer Garten, Aquarium and the Tierpark Berlin-Friedrichsfelde – and I had the great pleasure of shooting and producing the image film for the anniversary. Last weekend, the film had its premiere at the big gala for the zoo’s birthday in front of 750 invited guests from the city’s VIPs. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Marketing Director Christiane Reiss for her trust, the Zoo staff for their great support, as well as ARRI Rental Berlin and Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, who helped us so much with the production of the film.