Aqua Terra Zoo Vienna - Haus des Meeres

In the section for terrarium animals you see crocodiles, poisonous snakes, constrictor and saurians.

The main attactions of the tropical seawater section are the huge fish tanks, the sharks, sea turtles, many different corals, as well as gorgeous fish. The center of the tropical freshwater is the aquarium containing piranhas.

A sensation is the new tropical house with free-flying birds and free-running monkeys.

The mediterranean sea section gives an overview over different life-forms of this ocean, starting with anemones to snakes, shells, crabs, sea urchins, starfishs and fish.

You can visit the "Haus des Meeres - Aqua Terra Zoo Wien" daily between 9 am to 6 pm; thursday 9 am to 9 pm in Esterhazypark in the 6th Viennese district.

Austria's first saltwater aquarium

In 1957, scientists and members of the business community founded the "Gesellschaft für Meeresbiologie" (Society for Marine Biology) under the presidency of Dr. Hartel and vice-presidency of Ing. Otte. The stated goal was to create a "Haus des Meeres" (House of the Sea) in the flak tower located in the Esterhazypark: it was to house Austria's first saltwater aquarium and at the same to function as a center for European marine research. Professor Dr. Rupert Riedl, widely renowned beyond Austria's borders, took charge of the scientific work, supported by Dr. Ferdinand Starmühlner, who at that time was a university assistant.

A wide range of activities were undertaken, including organizing the diving group ADRIA and the publication of the monthly magazine OCEAN. By 1965, one-and-a-half stories of the building had already been adapted as exhibition rooms and equipped with 40 display aquariums.

Modernization and expansion under Dir. Erich Brenner

While the Schlosser era had been characterized by an ongoing battle for the institution's survival, under Mr. Brenner the house experienced a major modernization and expansion phase.

In 1994, Director Erich Brenner - already gravely ill with cancer - along with his team presented the new Mediterranean division on the second floor to the public. He was thus able to see the last of his three major projects come to fruition. He was no longer able to witness the inauguration of the 120,000 liter shark and sea turtle aquarium on the ground floor or the installation of the elevator. On 19 February 1995, Erich Brenner lost his valiant battle against cancer. A period of astounding progress came to a close.

New management structure in the Haus des Meeres

In the last meeting of the Haus des Meeres executive committee a new management structure has been agreed.

Dr. Michael Mitic, scientific manager, was given the title director, Mr. Werner Binder, mercantile manager, and Dr. Mag. Abed Navandi, marine biologist, are both vice-directors.

From now on Dr. Mag. Abed is also curator for marine species and Mag. Michael Kück is the curator for freshwater species, birds and mammals.

Tropical Marine Fauna

The colorful world of coral reef fishes is certainly one of the highlights of our zoo. This group is characterized by bizarre shapes and loud colors, the occasional poisonous spines, and a variety of unusual swimming techniques. They all share one common feature, namely their coral reef habitat.

Reef-building corals are restricted to warm seas. The distribution of corals therefore follows a clearly delimited zone on both sides of the equator. The water temperature here never drops below 20C.

These reefs are largely built by tiny animals, the coral polyps. They are members of the anthozoans, a group which includes the sea anemones, and have a rather simple anatomy: a sac-shaped body topped by a crown of tentacles. Each individual polyp secretes a limestone skeleton. A coral colony consists of hundreds or thousands of such polyps and may grow only a few centimeters per year. Many centuries and countless colonies are necessary to construct a reef. We also have so-called zoanthids on display. They are also members of the anthozoans, and close inspection reveals the individual polyps. Each one resembles a flower due to its ring of short tentacles.

The Hans & Lotte Hass Shark Tank

Austrias largest tank was opened on the 7th of May 2007. It is dedicated to Dr. Hans and Lotte Hass, the world famous divers, who have been the first diving with sharks in the 1940th.

It is their honour that today sharks are no more regarded as maneating killers, but are are a substantial part of the oceans with an important ecological duty.

Tropical House

Most of the animals in our Tropical House are free to move about at will: there are virtually no barriers between you and the animals. This was a conscious decision on our part in order to allow you to experience the fauna up close. Please note, however, that it is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN to TOUCH or FEED the animals. Don't chase the animals or climb into their enclosures. Our Tropical House pursues two aims. First we would like to offer our animals optimum keeping conditions. For example, large sections of the glass panes consist of special glass that permits ultraviolet light to pass through. This means that the sunlight in the facility has the very same quality as it would outdoors. The necessary tropical temperatures and the humid climate in the newly built glass addition are fully automated. All these measures are a prerequisite for successfully breeding a variety of highly endangered species. Second, we want to offer our visitors an "energizing" experience. We want you, as our guest, to actually feel the tropical climate on your skin and to breath in the heavy, moist, warm tropical air. Hike through our rainforest along the trail that leads from the water's edge up the steps and across the suspension bridge. Walk past our waterfall and up into the tree crown zone. Enjoy the typical fauna of each of these habitats. This includes the fishes in the mangrove region, the pond terrapins and tortoises, along with the free-flying birds and the cavorting monkeys.

Mediterranean Animals

The Mediterranean is no doubt one of Europe's favorite vacation destinations. The major attractions for tourists include warm water (29C surface temperature), stable and sunny weather, and scenic coastlines. Unfortunately, the tourists themselves contribute significantly to destroying the very habitats they so enjoy: in the summer months, the population along the coast soars. Human wastes often enter the sea untreated. This not only introduces disease-causing microorganisms (pathogens) that can directly harm tourists, but also increases the phosphate load due to the enormous amounts of laundry that needs cleaning. The detergent components, combined with nitrate (excess commercial fertilizer that bypasses the crops and enters the sea via rivers and groundwater), result in excessive algal growth.

The visible symptoms are algal blooms such as those that repeatedly afflict the North Adriatic Sea. These algal masses must be decomposed by bacteria, producing so-called "marine snow", masses of mucus material that blanket the organisms on the sea floor.

The result: All the animals buried under these masses suffocate and die. The impact on the ecosystem is devastating because these bottom-dwellers normally function as a giant filter that helps clean the water. Not only do the decaying organic remains severely burden the system, but the role the freshly killed organisms normally play in purifying the water is lost - a vicious circle.

New waste treatment plants and a more environmentally conscious application of fertilizers are among the effective measures that could help improve this situation. But time is running out.

Take a close look at the animals we have on display - we hope it gives you an impression of the high diversity of this valuable but threatened ecosystem.

Native Freshwater Fishes

This section of the Haus des Meeres is devoted to the fishes, molluscs and crustaceans that inhabit our waters. The focus is on species from the Danube and its tributaries in the region around Vienna. Based on its special geographic location, the Danube is one of the most species-rich rivers in Europe. The National Park Donau-Auen, which also encompasses part of the Viennese Danube, contains over 60 species of fish.

Terrarium Animals

Our terrarium section boasts various tarantulas, scorpions and frogs, but specializes in reptiles, which include the turtles, snakes, lizards and crocodiles.

Piranhas

Piranhas feed mostly on other fishes. They are predators that live in schools, and the threat they pose to humans has often been highly exaggerated. Their role can be likened more with that of a sanitation brigade because they tend to remove wounded and sick animals. They are therefore actually helpful in preventing disease. Even the indigenous people formerly took advantage of this role. In some regions of the rainforest, extensive flooding prevents the bodies of deceased tribe members from being buried on land during certain seasons of the year. The problem was solved quite elegantly - the bodies were suspended in the water. Within a few hours, the piranhas had removed all the flesh from the bones and the fresh skeletons were dried, decorated and buried in high-lying burial grounds in the pile villages. The wild and fabulous stories about killer piranhas are probably based on the records of such rituals by Mr. Paez. In reality, humans can bath with impunity in several areas known to be inhabited by piranhas. Deadly encounters have virtually never been authenticated, although smaller bite wounds have been reported. The strong and sharp jaws are used by the Indians as scissors and shaving razors. The flesh is eaten.

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