Crown Princess Mary has been announced as the successor to the late Prince Henrik as the Royal Patron of Copenhagen Zoo. Prince Henrik had been the patron of the zoo since 1972 until his passing in 2018, but there have been connections between the Danish Royal Family and the Zoo since its inception in 1859.
At one hundred and sixty years old it is one of the oldest zoos in Europe. The zoo was built on land between Frederiksberg Park and the Sandermarken. The land was originally the summer garden of Princess Vilhemine, daughter of King Frederick VI.
The zoo has not only benefitted from the Danish Royal Family being patrons. Through the years the zoo has also been the recipient of animals which have been given as gifts to the Danish Royal Family from countries across the globe during state visits. A pair of elephants was received from the Thai Royal Family and in 2014 a pair Giant Pandas was given by China. The zoo started with a modest array of animals before building its collection. However, when the whole ethos of animals in cages was questioned, the organisation reviewed its policies and it has also joined several European breeding programmes.
Since the 1980s the zoo has sought to move away from keeping animals in cages and aims to keep them in surroundings which are closer to their natural environment. The Savannah feature includes an elephant house created by the British designer Sir Norman Foster and a hippopotamus house which enables visitors to watch the creatures above and below the water-line. The same is also true of the “Arctic Ring” which enables visitors to look at polar bears both on land and in the water.
As well as building new enclosures, the zoo has also sought to save and re-purpose some of the old buildings. A house for built for yaks in the 1870s now houses Bactrian Camels, and tapirs currently live in the Herbivore house built in 1875.