A family business
The Hagenbeck family heads up their zoo in its sixth generation. This establishment, which has been non-profit making since 1989, occupies a special place in the zoological landscape: the Hagenbeck Zoo is the only family led, non-profit making zoological garden in Europe which receives no state subsidies for the on-going operation. The daily running costs of 47,000 euros (zoo and aquarium) have to be covered by the gate money alone. This has to be compared with other German zoos such as the one in Hanover or the Berlin Zoological Gardens which receive state benefits running into millions. They need more public money than the zoo sales make.
The founder and his idea
Carl Hagenbeck built what no other dared to dream of. In 1907, the Hamburg man opened the first barless zoo in the world. As early as the end of the eighteenth century, this son of a fishmonger had the idea of showing animals no longer caged up but in open viewing enclosures. In his zoo of the future, nothing more than unseen ditches were to separate wild animals from members of the public. Carl Hagenbeck patented this idea in 1896. Nine years later his dream was to come true in Hamburg-Stellingen.
The revolutionary open viewing enclosures and panoramas were in fact ridiculed in professional circles but took the public‘s breath away. The Tierpark Hagenbeck is considered to have prepared the way for today‘s wildlife adventure parks. Even today new zoological gardens are being created to his model. Carl Hagenbeck was born on the 14th June 1844 and died on the 14th April 1913.