€400,000 project: Nuremberg Zoo grows – Nuremberg, Nuremberg

Two water buffaloes have found a new home at the Nuremberg Zoo. A new system was needed for this – but that’s not the only renovation.

A welcome addition to the Nuremberg Zoo: two water buffaloes have moved into the central section of the zoo. The bulls were housed in a newly built facility. They came to Nuremberg from the Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna.



The new facility is part of what is called Mittelspange. Existing enclosures will be redesigned and partially linked together over the next few years. In the future, endangered species of Asian animals will live there in a kind of “animal community”. In the first step, the zoo redesigned the reindeer pens and settled the water buffalo there.

Trees, shrubs and water on an area of ​​1000 square meters

The new facility, with an area of ​​more than 1,000 square metres, consists of a large aquarium, stream and wall of recycled sandstone, and Asian trees and shrubs. Reeds and stalks were planted, among other things, along the banks of the 350 square meter water surface and along the riverbed. Plants together with the substrate act as a natural filter: they absorb nutrients brought by animals and thereby clean the water. The water is pumped out again and then flows back into the pond via the stream. The system does not require any water treatment technology.


The water buffalo moves to the newly created enclosure.

© Tom Burger / Nuremberg Zoo, NNZ

The domestic water buffalo is the domesticated form of the wild water buffalo. It is native to Asia and has great economic importance there. Also in Europe, farmers breed water buffalo quite often – in Italy, for example, their milk is processed into mozzarella. In many places, water buffaloes are also used as landscape protectors. They are well suited to intensive grazing and keeping areas of ecological value open – as in Neusiedler See National Park, where one of the bulls comes in.

Main project Mittelspange

In the middle section, existing animal enclosures will be redesigned and past enclosures for reindeer, elk and bison will be linked. “Conversion depends on the interaction of animals and plants. In the future, endangered species of Asian animals will live there. Various types of habitats are presented in Asia – from wetlands and forests to jungle and mountain landscapes,” says Zoo Director Dag Encke.

The motto of the entire project on the central clasp is: “The Forest of Tomorrow’s Reich and the Animals of Yesterday”. Behind this is the fact that the vegetation in Reichswald will change dramatically due to climate change.
“The plants in Bavaria can look very exotic in a few decades if warming becomes permanent or even progresses,” Enke says.

A water buffalo on his first tour of the new facility

A water buffalo on his first tour of the new facility

© Luisa Rauenbusch / Nuremberg Zoo, NNZ

The animals in the middle section enclosures are also meant to represent Asian habitats, but they exemplify the opposite: some are highly endangered in their homeland. Therefore, the conservation and reproduction of these species is critical to the conservation of these species.

More factories are already being converted

After the completion of the water buffalo facility, the zoo has already begun to transform the former Wapiti facility. The new Mishmi takine facility above the former dolphinarium, which is currently being completed, is also part of the new focus on Asia. Blue sheep will also live there in the future.

The enclosure next to the endangered Prince Alfred’s deer has also been redesigned and will be attached to the new area. Prince Alfred the Deer is an ambassador against the dangerous destruction of forests in the Philippines. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are only a few hundred animals left in nature in 2016. So breeding and breeding coordination in zoos plays a crucial role in the conservation of this type of animal.

The neighboring systems of the snow leopard, which is native to Central Asia, and the rhinoceros, which is widespread in southern Asia, also fit in with the new focus of the central division. Both types are considered “weak”.
The zoo participates in European EEP breeding programs with almost all of these animal species. In these programs, zoos and wildlife parks breed animal species in a coordinated manner to maintain stable populations outside their natural habitat.

budget of 2.3 million euros

The new facility for the water buffalo cost around €400,000 and was fully funded by the Nuremberg Zoo Friends Association. He has so far borne all the costs of the project. Up to 2.3 million euros have been allocated for this purpose.

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