Croatia has 3 zoos and 1 safari park for animal lovers and children of all stripes. City zoos are fun places to observe wild animals while staying nearby Zagreb, Split, or Osijek. If you want an adventurous trip, visit the safari park at Brijuni National Park where domestic and exotic animals freely roam.
In this post, we cover:
The facts are these…
All the zoos in Croatia
Zoo Zagreb was founded in 1925 as the first zoo in southeastern Europe, with only 3 animals. It is located in Park Maksimir, the oldest and largest city park in Zagreb where locals like to escape the city.
[Read: 6 reasons to visit Park Maksimir]
The zoo is now home to 370 animal species and 8,800 animals from all continents including anteaters, lions, a crocodile, a royal cobra, an electric eel, Madagascar lovebirds, and the protected Croatian species čovječja ribica (olm).
The zoo has several historical locations including Vulture’s Cliff, a statue of a Neapolitan fisherman Arabian style object, Lion’s bridge, and Monkey’s Pavillion. It has a children’s playground with an education center, and a restaurant called Kod morskog lava (At the sea lion).
ZOO Zagreb performs research programs that examine endangered species. Visitors can join more than 30 educational programs throughout the year. The zoo also offers special educational programs for students that include practical work and contact with animals.
You can support ZOO Zagreb by “adopting” one of their animals like an African lion, gray wolf, Chinese leopard, or meerkat. It is a small gesture that contributes to animal care. You can also watch the public feeding of animals according to this schedule.
A map of ZOO Zagreb is available here.
A documentary about ZOO Zagreb is available here.
The ZOOvrt Osijek is located on the bank of the river Drava surrounded by green areas and fresh air. Due to its size of 11 hectares, it is the biggest zoo in Croatia. This enables their lions and cheetahs to live in one of the biggest habitat areas in Europe. The zoo was founded in 1955.
ZOOvrt Osijek is home to 80 animal species and more than 650 animals including a giraffe, an emu, a green tree python, and a red-bellied piranha. It offers the possibility of animal adoption by which you can contribute to animal health protection, food procurement, and welfare.
ZOO Osijek organizes educational workshops adapted by age groups. The workshops focus on acquiring basic knowledge about animals and raising awareness of animal protection. Due to the Ukrainian crisis, the city of Osijek has offered accommodation to animals from the Kyiv Zoo in ZOOvrt Osijek.
You can stay next to the zoo at Hotel Zoo, which is surrounded by the river Drava and Baranja forests. Since it is only a 10-minute drive away from the city center, it is an ideal place both for visitors who seek active vacation and peace. For more information, view the hotel’s official page here.
A map of ZOO Osijek is available here.
Zoološki vrt Split operates under Prirodoslovni muzej – Split (Natural History Museum) in Split. The zoo was opened in 1926 and reconstructed in 2018. It is located on the hill of Marjan above the Adriatic Sea, a half-hour walk from Split’s Riva.
The zoo is home to 9 animal species and 44 animals. It no longer houses wild animals, and instead focuses on domestic animals, especially original Croatian breeds. Currently, 6 original Croatian breeds live there including:
- Krava Buša (cow)
- Primorsko-dinarski magarac (donkey)
- Hrvatska bijela koza (goat)
- Hrvatska šarena koza (goat)
- Dalmatinska pramenka, bračka ovca species (sheep)
- Veliki crnoopaljeni kunić (rabbit)
The Split zoo is about to become an educational center with traditional and original breeds of domestic animals. It is ideal for children because they can interact with and feed animals like chickens and rabbits.
The zoo organizes several educational programs including Marjanska magareća staza (Marjan donkey trail) where the donkey walks next to visitors, Dani tovara (Donkey days), and Festival vune (Wool festival). Believe it or not, sometimes the zoo plants play music. They connect the electronic components next to plants, enabling them to produce music. The zoo soon plans to offer a storytelling tour with a donkey.
Next time you’re on top of Marjan, stop by the Split zoo to say hi to some native Croatian animals.
The island of Veliki Brijun in Brijuni National Park is home to an uncommon safari park. Safari park Brijuni is home to both indigenous Istrian species and exotic South American, African, and Asian animals.
It is pretty unique to see an elephant, zebras, ostriches, llamas, antelope, albino peacocks, and donkeys living together on the wild island. Visitors are delighted with deer, moufflons, and peacocks that jump around the park.
Within the park, there is an ethno area that is home to indigenous Istrian animals including:
- Istarsko govedo boškarin (cattle)
- Istarska pramenka (sheep)
- Magarac (donkey)
- Koza (goat)
The park is only accessible by boat, as it is located on an island. Cars are not allowed at Brijuni, but you can move around by electric vehicles, a tourist train, bikes, or on foot. The tourist train is ideal if you want to avoid the sun and observe animals from a safe distance. However, it won’t be strange if a Capricorn jumps on the vehicle to say hi. All animals in the park move freely, but keep in mind that you are not allowed to feed or disturb them.
Safari park Brijuni was founded by the former president of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito in 1978. There is also an ornithological park that has become a home for many migratory birds. The wetland area at Brijuni is ideal for herons and storks.
View our other animal articles
- A guide to buying Adriatic fish at the market
- Animal treatment and protection in Croatia
- Endangered animals you might see in Croatia
- How to bring your pet to Croatia (and care for them once you arrive)
Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant. We can recommend one if you contact us.