The castle "Weiherburg"
Bear enclosure in 1962
The Alpenzoo in 1976
The Alpenzoo is located on the sunny slopes above Innsbruck at the foot of the majestic „Nordkette“, just a 15 – 20 minute walk from the centre of the town. Near the entrance of the zoo you will see an old castle known as the "Weiherburg". It was built in 1460 by Christian Tänzl, a prominent citizen of Innsbruck. Emperor Maximilian I was a guest here as was the archduke Ferdinand II who had a small zoological garden errected nearby.
When the Alpenzoo opened on the 22nd of September 1962, its founders endeavoured to capture the atmosphere of that Renaissance garden. The beaver enclosure at the entrance to the zoo is a reminder of the original fish ponds ("Weiher") which gave the "Weiherburg" its name. It soon became one of the main attractions of Innsbruck, its popularity increasing steadily throughout the years. Today we can boast an average of 300.000 visitors a year.
When you visit the zoo to observe and enjoy the Walcreeper, Ibex, Otter or Chough you are probably not aware of the fact that we owe the concept of this zoo and its methods of keeping and breeding alpine species to Prof.Hans Psenner (1912-1995), also lovingly remembered as "The father of the Alpenzoo". Even as a young man and nature lover he fought to establish a zoo devoted specifically to alpine wild-life. It took him years however to fulfill his dream. He was 50 when the zoo finally opened. Prof. Psenner headed the zoo till 1979. He was succeeded by Dr. Helmut Pechlaner who left us to take over the Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna in 1992. Dr. Michael Martys has been the executive and zoological director of the zoo since 1992.