The zoo and its aquarium numbered 3,2 million visitors in 2007. It is considered to be the most visited zoo in Europe and one of the most popular worldwide. Regular animal feedings are among its most famous attractions. Several globally known animals like Knut, the polar bear or Bao Bao, the Giant Panda are contributing to the zoo's public image.
The zoo is closely collaborating on scientific fields with a large number of universities, research institutes, and other zoos around the world. It maintains and promotes numerous European breeding programmes and safeguards several endangered species. A number of species kept at the zoo are regularly returned to the wild after years in intensive human care.
A breeding function of the zoo is its program maintaining the studbooks for white and black rhinoceroses and gaurs. The populations of rare deer and pigs are part of several captive breeding projects. Berlin Zoo supports conservationists e.g. at Madagascar and as a partner of the Stiftung Artenschutz. Almost all of the animals are housed in enclosures that are specially designed to recreate their natural habitat.
The carnivore house displays all big cats and many rare small predators, such as ring- tailed mungos and narrow-striped mongooses from Madagascar. In the basement, visitors are invited to a view into the world of nocturnal animals.
The bird house presents a walk-through aviary and offers a broad variety of forms, including several regularly breeding species of hornbills and many parrots. Numerous big aviaries show waders, herons and many other species. The Berlin zoo is one of the few zoos to exhibit Tuatara and Luzon tarictic hornbills.
The Aquarium, which was built in 1913 as part of the Zoologischer Garten complex, is a zoo in itself. Since its opening the Zoo-Aquarium has been ranked among the public aquariums with the world’s greatest biodiversity. On either a separate or joint ticket it can be visited with the zoo.
Over 9.000 animals are presented on three storeys. It contains a famous jellyfish breeding, tropical and native fishes, crocodiles and broad variety of insects. In addition to its 250 fish tanks, the Aquarium houses a wide variety of amphibians and reptiles including the Komodo dragon.
The shark tank presents the blacktip reef shark. The chondrichthians, or cartilaginous fishes, are an ancient class of animal that includes both the sharks and the rays.
With a total capacity of 25,000 litres twelve basins present different sections through the world of corals. The largest of these basins is the 11 m3 Great Coral Basin with its reproduction lagoon.
Several new born animals in the Berlin zoo have raised national and international interest, some of them even raised to celebrity status.
Knut is a polar bear who was born in captivity at the Zoo on 5 December 2006. Rejected by his mother at birth, he was subsequently raised by zookeepers. Knut became the center of a mass media phenomenon dubbed "Knutmania" that spanned the globe and quickly spawned numerous toys, media specials, DVDs, and books. Because of this, the cub was largely responsible for a significant increase in revenue, estimated at about five million euros, at the Berlin Zoo in 2007. Zoo attendance figures for the year increased by an estimated 30 percent making it the most profitable year in its 163-year history.
Bao Bao (* 1978) is a male Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). He is the only Giant Panda in a German zoo and the eldest known Giant Panda in a zoo worldwide. Like many of his kind, he is on a permanent loan from China for breeding purposes. In spite of several artificial inseminations of female ‚Yan Yan’, there has been no offspring yet.