Monday, May 4, 2009

New Danish Stamps show Copenhagen Zoo

Anniversary of a Copenhagen oasis

Copenhagen Zoo is 150 years old! To mark the anniversary the Denmark Post Office is issuing a beautiful prestige booklet disguised in zebra stripes.

The Zoo plays an important role as a recreational oasis in the city, especially for families with kids. It encourages children’s natural inquisitiveness by presenting a whole host of new things for them to see and do.

As well as lots of fascinating stories and photographs, the booklet also contains a sheet with four beautiful multi colored stamps and two 9 subject sheetlets. Each sheetlet features motifs of the Zoo’s inhabitants. The unique sheetlets are only available in the prestige booklet.

At the back of the book is a page featuring 15 old Zoo posters in stamp format these are also available only in the prestige booklet. Copenhagen Zoo is the only zoo in
Denmark to have

produced posters for more than a century. Among those who have designed posters are famous artists such as Thorvald Bindesbøll and Sven Brasch. All the articles in the booklet are in Danish and English. The selong price of the booklet is 109 Danish Kronor.

Built by humans, inhabited by animals, visited by thousands every year the Copenhagen Zoo has served as an inspiring oasis in the heart of the city ever since it was founded in 1859. A trip to the Zoo appeals to young and old alike — interesting and informative on the one hand, fun and relaxed on the other. With 1 .2 million guests every year, Copenhagen Zoo is the most-visited zoo in Denmark, and is particularly popular with families. It is also considered one of the most impressive zoos in Europe, both for its animals and for the newly built units housing hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses and elephants.


The Danish ornithologist Niels Kjaeboling founded Copenhagen Zoo after a visit to Berlin. He was determined that Copenhagen should have a zoo on a par with other European capitals. He petitioned the King, who placed Princess Vilhelmina’s Gardens at Frederiksberg Palace at Niels disposal. The new attraction opened to the public on 20 September 1859. The site was well chosen, as it bordered Frederiksberg Gardens, a popular destination for Sunday outings from Copenhagen at the time. The Zoo expanded over the years, accumulating a large number of new buildings and units. The Zoo
Tower, which is featured on the DKK 5.50 stamp, was built in 1905. This 43.5-metre historic landmark is located right beside the main entrance. Those who climb the 200 steps to the top are rewarded with a view of the øresund Bridge and West Amager — on a clear day you can even see all the way to the cliffs at Stevns, about 70 kilometers away.


The Elephant House, to the north, is the new home of the Zoo’s world-famous breeding group of Asian elephants. It was designed by the celebrated architect Norman Foster and inaugurated in summer 2008. The Elephant House is an architectural gem and has also raised the bar for new elephant units. Its top priority is the safety of the animals and their keepers — for example, the floor is covered by half a meter of soft sand, so the elephants never have to walk on solid concrete. The two huge glass domes in the ceiling create a bright and pleasant environment for the animals, even in winter. One of the domes is featured on the DKK 6.50 stamp. The outdoor part of the unit consists of a 3,350- square meter area designed to resemble a dried-out riverbed. This area can be seen from a corner of the nearby Frederiksberg Gardens, and the elephants often bathe in the four-meter-deep moat that separates the unit from the park. In addition, several mud pools, feeding sites and other facilities keep the elephants occupied at all times.


These days, zoos not only enable the public to see animals, but are increasingly concerned with creating habitats that are as natural as possible. In the old days, the “habitat” was simply painted on the walls in the larger cages. Later, areas were specifically designed to suit the animals’ needs. For example, the African Savannah in Copenhagen Zoo enables different species to live side by side, just as they would in the wild. However, the rhinoceros, featured on the DKK 5.50 stamp, is kept separate from the giraffes and zebras so none of the animals get injured. The Tropical Zoo, which opened in 1994, provides a suitably warm and humid habitat for creatures such as butterflies, turtles and sloths. Here, visitors enjoy close encounters with most of the animals, including the red-eyed tree frog shown on the DKK 8.00 stamp. Safely behind the glass, crocodiles wait to pounce, while the five-meter tiger python, illustrated on the DKK 9.00 stamp, lives in a hollow tree trunk. Under optimal conditions such as these, animals are more likely to display significant aspects of their natural behavior, which visitors to the zoo are able to observe without risking life and limb.


The flamingos that strut around on the DKK 8.00 stamp live in the north-eastern corner of the Zoo. In the wild, the flamingos’ feathers get their pink hue from the microscopic crustaceans and algae that they consume. This is impossible in a zoo, so an alternative source of coloring has to be used. In the old days, the flamingos were fed paprika, but this proved ineffective and a special additive is now used. As soon as the air starts to warm up in spring, the flamingos start to dance. Stretching their legs and raising their heads high, they strut around, flapping their wings and turning their heads from side to side. This synchronized mating behavior ensures that the flamingos lay eggs that hatch at the same time.


Copenhagen Zoo works on nature- preservation projects with partners in Denmark and abroad. The Zoo supports these projects in a practical manner by making materials available or by providing manpower in the field. In recent years, Copenhagen Zoo has played a prominent role in international efforts to protect endangered species, including the golden lion tamarin that is portrayed on the DKK 9.00 stamp. This beautiful animal lives in the Brazilian rain forest, but is in grave danger of extinction as a result of widespread deforestation. In the 1970s, only 200 individuals remained, but thanks to a partnership between the Brazilian state and several zoos, tamarins born in captivity but released into the wild have helped revive the species.


A special anniversary exhibition is being staged in the old Elephant House in 2009. Relating the history of the Zoo right up to the present day, its main focus is on the enthusiasts who helped to create and develop it.

The actual anniversary takes place on 20 September 2009, at which time Copenhagen Zoo will host a conference for 3,500 delegates from the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). For further information, please refer to

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