We decided to visit Artis Zoo largely on the strength of the positive reviews on this site.
I have to say, i'm a little mystified as to why this place has had so many positive reviews. Although there were elements of our visit that we enjoyed, we came away with some serious reservations about the welfare of the animals.
Although the animals seemed to be in fairly good physical health, the enclosures are far too small in my opinion, one of the first exhibits we came upon was the wolves, there were about 20 wolves confined in a space no bigger than our two bedroom flat, the place was a quagmire of mud with nowhere dry for the wolves to sit. The wolves, although looking well fed and healthy, were definitely not happy, milling about and pacing the small space, their legs coated in muck.
The stench of ammonia coming from the enclosure was appalling. Not a good early impression of Artis Zoo.
After that we went to see the penguins, and it was the same story, perhaps 50 birds in a muddy space not much bigger than our living room, emanating waves of the stench of waste.
There is an Amur Leapord at Artis Zoo, and while it was amazing to see such a rare and beautiful creature so close up, the experience was tainted by the habitat, a low, shallow glass fronted enclosure about 5-6 metres deep and maybe forty metres long.
The worst of all by far was the Bear, having never seen a bear in the flesh before I was very excited to see it. We approached the enclosure, yes, you've guessed it, it was tiny.
The bear itself was pacing around a small empty pool, it would do a full circle, raise itself up on its back legs, wave its front paws in the air, and go around the pool again, repeating this over and over, around and around. This animal had clearly lost it's mind.
It was upsetting and traumatic to say the least, we didn't even want to take a picture and walked away from the poor stricken creature deeply saddened, I believe the kindest thing to do would be for somebody to put the damn thing down and end it's misery.
Other than the small spaces the animals had to inhabit, there were other aspects of Artis Zoo that left us feeling a bit uncomfortable, such as the exhibits of dead specimins, I'm sorry, but I really don't want to see a load of dead stuffed birds and beetles and butterflies nailed to a board, or a pickled elephant foetus in a jar. Does anybody?
We wandered on, many of the enclosures were empty and deserted, the reptile house was closed many of the animals listed on the website weren't there. No Lion to be seen, no Polar Bear, no Giraffes, no Armadillos, no Red Panda, no African Wild Dogs.
We enjoyed seeing the feeding of the sea lions but the pool looked too small and very dirty, it was very nice to see these lively creatures doing their tricks for fish and I'm sure the keepers' talk was very interesting but since it was entirely in Dutch I'll never know. I know it is somewhat presumptuous to expect English to be spoken but most of the audience that turned up for the seal lion feeding clearly didn't understand what was being said.
We tried to make the best of our day at Artis Zoo, it was lovely to see the gorillas, a silverback and a couple of females with a baby. The aquarium was also pretty good. Great to see the Oryx and some of the smaller animals too.
However we came away troubled, this 19th Century Zoo is too small, archaic and in my opinion has no place in modern society. The size of the enclosures borders on cruelty, they should either reduce the number of exhibits and expand the size of the habitats, or close the place down.
If you have children they'll have a great time, but for a thinking adult with a conscience, Artis Zoo is in general a negative experience. I wouldn't go again and would not recommend any of my friends visiting Amsterdam to do so.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.