The idea for the zoo came into being towards the end of the 1940s and was enthusiastically supported by local people. There was such enthusiasm that the authorities of the time actually gave the project the go ahead towards the end of 1953.
An area of around 100 hectares (now the zoo covers 136 hectares) was designated for the project in a forest valley not far from the centre of Oliwa.
The location was chosen on the grounds of its excellent topology and sheltered atmospheric conditions.
The main building and the water mill were adapted for the needs of the zoo. The opening ceremony took place on the first of May 1954. The first animals kept there were offered by the people of Gdansk themselves: rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, pheasants. The collection slowly grew to include exotic animals brought in by sailors. Eventually an elephant and a lion were brought to live at the zoo.
The people of the Tri-City helped out initially with the work on the zoo, putting in pathways, tapping into water supplies and diverting them to the animals' quarters. They also helped build the monkey cages as well as the reptile and bird house.
The seals and penguins received a special pool with fresh running water. This vast unpaid voluntary work carried out by the people of Gdansk was literally pricelss. The zoo now houses over 180 species of animal (around 1000 animals).
The zoo is open all year round:
January - March 09:00 - 15:00
April 09:00 - 17:00
May - September 09:00 - 19:00
October 09:00 - 17:00
November, December 09:00 - 15:00
Concessions: 5 zł
Full-price: 10 zł