A visit to Helsinki is a must when in Scandinavia. The city is the capital of Finland and is the major financial, political, educational and cultural centre of Finland. Helsinki is stretched across peninsulas, some islands and bays. Some of the major islands are Lauttasaari, Seurasaari and Korkeasaari. There are different sights and sounds in Helsinki and one of the more popular year-round destinations is the Helsinki Zoo in the island of Korkeasaari.
The Helsinki Zoo was founded in 1889 and is one of the oldest zoos in the whole world. The zoo began as a place for exotic birds and animals brought home by expeditioners and Russian sailors. The island became a home for animals and birds from the Arctic and the Amazon.
The zoo is situated on a 22-hectare stony island. Korkeasaari is linked to the mainland by a bridge. Access to Helsinki Zoo via the bridge is all year round while water buses and ferry from Hakaniemi and Kauppatori are available during the summer months. It is possible to take a leisurely tour of Helsinki in a motorhome, “hook-up” in one of the 7 campsites around the city and set up as a “base” for sightseeing.
There are some 150 animal species and around 1,000 plant species in the zoo. There are animals representing the continents of Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, South America and Africa. It is the mission of the zoo to protect the diversity of animals it houses. Helsinki Zoo has the thrust to raise endangered species. It also has the tenacity to participate in the protection of the natural habitats of varied animal species.
Part of Asia is connected to Europe so some animals from both continents have similarities. Some of the “Asians” are the lion, Armur leopard and tiger, snow leopard, panda, manul, camel, kulan, otter, peacock and mink. Makhors and takins are also comfortably lodged in the island zoo.
The African section does not have the usual African safari animals mainly because it is quite tasking to keep large mammals from Africa because of Finland’s temperature. At any rate the African mammals would have to be housed indoors during the winter months so it is better to just not acquire them for the zoo. Some of the Africans are the Egyptian tortoise, short-eared elephant shrew and the dwarf mongoose.
The bear is Finland’s national animal. Aside from the bear are wetland birds and varied owls that are natives to Europe. Some of the animals are wolverine, reindeer, lesser white-fronted goose, European otter and mink and Visent.
North America is represented by red deer, skunk and mountain goat. Animals such as pine marten and rabbit, lynx and wolverine are not exactly the same as the one found in Helsinki.
Helsinki zoo is full of white-faced monkey, Brasilian aguoti, emperor tamarin, Goeldi’s monkeys, blue poison arrow frog and blue throated macaw which are all natives of South America.
Australia is represented by the emu and red wallaby. As in most zoos, the animals at Helsinki zoo are not tamed or domesticated.
The zoo is open the whole year with a regular opening hour of 10 am to 4 pm and extending up to 8pm in the summer months. Entry fee is from 7 € to 10 €.