Observation Tower, Helsinki Zoo
CC BY-SA 3.0
Helsinki Zoo is the largest zoo in Finland, located on the island of Korkeasaari in Helsinki. The zoo is also commonly referred to by the island's name, Korkeasaari.
The island of Korkeasaari is a 22ha rocky island, connected to the mainland via a bridge to the Helsinki district of Mustikkamaa, where there is access to the zoo all year round. A ferry and water buses take visitors to the island during summertime, from the Market Square and Hakaniemi.
Korkeasaari is among the most popular places among visitors in Helsinki. The animals on display are divided geographically to Amazonia, Africasia and Borealia. There are about two hundred Animal species, and about a thousand plant species.
Korkeasaari has been a recreational park for Helsinki people long before the zoo was founded, since 1569. It was first used as pasture and for fishing. In the 19th century, it was used for storing timber. During the Crimean war, the island was a military area. The city of Helsinki gained access to it again in 1864, starting recreational steam boat traffic was established, and a restaurant together with facilities for dancing, bowling, and picnics were provided.
Helsinki Zoo opened in 1889, originally showcasing common animals from Finland.
The main collection comprises mammals and birds, but even reptiles, fish and invertebrates are on display. The Amazonia building has an aquarium department. The collection has been selected so that outdoor animals can comfortably live in the climate of Finland. This means that many charismatic megafauna are absent, notably elephants, rhinoceros and hippopotamuses.
Two or three times a year the zoo organizes "night walks", when visitors can see the owls and other nocturnal animals in their natural waking hours.