On 3 April 2022, the Hellabrunn Zoo team were finally able to breathe a sigh of relief: On this day, the last remaining coronavirus restrictions were scrapped and the zoo was able to resume normal operations.
The Annual Report 2022 was presented at this year's Annual General Meeting of the Münchener Tierpark Hellabrunn AG (Hellabrun Zoo) held last Wednesday and can now be viewed on the zoo's website. After all restrictions were lifted, Hellabrunn Zoo was particularly pleased with the return to high attendance and the positive feedback from numerous visitors. One of the major highlights of the past year was the inauguration of the new lion enclosure on 27 May, where the building was officially unveiled under blue skies in front of distinguished guests and members of the press. Overall, the number of visitors increased by around 69 percent compared to the previous year (which was heavily impacted by the pandemic) to 1,619,935 million guests. The sale of annual passes also increased by an impressive 111 percent compared to the previous year - while the number of day tickets sold rose by 50.3 percent. 2022 was therefore a successful year in this respect, with the zoo achieving a significant recovery, even if Hellabrunn has not yet reached the pre-pandemic level for attendance figures.
“From a financial perspective, 2022 was a challenging year due to the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and the unforeseeable macroeconomic developments. However, we are very relieved about the sales and revenue trajectory and the strong demand for annual passes and are optimistic that this trend will continue in the current financial year. In a comprehensive evaluation of the Master Plan, we were able to establish that we had achieved the goals and milestones we had set for ourselves. Our path to becoming a geozoo of biodiversity is still the right one, which we will continue to systematically follow in the coming years. I would especially like to thank our main shareholder, the City of Munich, for their loyal and long-term support. Their indispensable financial support was vital in ensuring the continuation of animal care activities and the continued existence of the zoo during the aforementioned difficult circumstances. I would also like to say a massive thank you - also on behalf of all the staff and the animal residents at Hellabrunn - to our supervisory board chairwoman and mayor Verena Dietl, all the supervisory board members of Hellabrunn Zoo and the entire City Council of the City of Munich!" says Rasem Baban, zoo director and CEO of Münchener Tierpark Hellabrunn AG. "In addition, we received numerous donations from friends of Hellabrunn Zoo last year, some arriving from people based far beyond the city, who supported us in realising many planned projects as well as planning new ones. We would also like to thank the supporters for these important donations.”
In terms of animal population and infrastructure development, 2022 was a very positive year. Despite supply bottlenecks in the construction industry, the zoo was able to continue and complete many construction projects on schedule. In addition to the new lion enclosure, several other enclosures were opened or reopened. In April the new flamingo aviary, in July the revamped meerkat enclosure and in September the new wolf enclosure was officially opened after extensive conversion and renovation measures. Other animal enclosures, such as those for yaks and bison, have also been upgraded or, as in the case of the new tree bridge that connects the two enclosures for the red pandas, adapted to the needs of the animal residents at short notice. Unfortunately, the roofs of a few of the habitats such as the Jungle Pavilion, the tiger enclosure and the Turtle House were so severely damaged by a hail storm in 2020 that there was no other option but to replace them. These complex measures were eventually carried out on all three houses in the financial year 2022.
The animal population at Hellabrunn grew thanks to the zoo’s dedicated approach to animal welfare and professional husbandry. The zoo was able to celebrate a special breeding success among the Indian crested porcupines: In 2022, a (male) porcupette was born at Hellabrunn for the first time in 30 years! A baby sloth was born in the spring of the same year, which led to the zoo participating in the EAZA Ex-situ Programme (EEP) for the species. And in the red panda enclosure, the birth of twin male cubs was registered in the EEP studbook. There were also many successful births among the even-toed ungulates such as the Javan bantengs, Dahomey dwarf cattle, Bulgarian long-haired goats, dama gazelles and Heck cattle (aurochs back-breeding). The zoo population was given a further boost by births in the aviary and in the aquarium. Other additions include the arrival of external newcomers such as the white storks, Lake Pátzcuaro salamander, capybara and various bird species. In 2022, the zoo in Munich was home to a total of 561 species.
Conservation projects that attracted significant media attention included the release of two alpine ibex born at Hellabrunn Zoo into their natural habitat in the Gasthofgebirge mountains in Austria. The project, which took place in June 2022, was carried out in close cooperation with various zoological institutions. The reintroduction of the duo supplemented and genetically refreshed the existing population. But the Alpine ibex offspring were not the only Hellabrunn-born species to contribute to the preservation of native species: a female little owl that hatched at Hellabrunn was also given to a reintroduction project in Brandenburg. Other PR highlights included the 'pond challenge' in the summer and the young elephant Otto’s, second birthday celebration in November. The zoo also installed educational and barrier-free learning stations in front of the newly opened animal enclosures in order to encourage visitors to learn more about the animals residing there and about local biodiversity at Hellabrunn.
Verena Dietl, Chair of Supervisory Board and Munich Mayor, summed up the year with a positive outlook: "Hellabrunn Zoo is an important Munich institution for species conservation, environmental education, science and animal adventures. For many of our guests, regular visits to the zoo are an integral part of their leisure activities as well as a tradition followed by their families for generations. The growth in 2022 after the scrapping of all pandemic restrictions is therefore all the more gratifying. It was and still is particularly important to me to ensure that the future of Hellabrunn Zoo is secured beyond doubt and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many supporters of Hellabrunn. Last but not least, I would like to say a special thank you to all zoo staff for their tireless commitment, which has made the success of the past years possible."