Tierpark Hellabrunn is the name of the zoological garden in the Bavarian capital Munich. The 36 hectare (89 acre) park is situated on the right bank of the river Isar in the southern part of Munich, near the quarter of Thalkirchen. As the groundwater level here is rather high and the water is of very good quality, the zoo can cover its needs for freshwater by using its own wells.
On February 25, 1905, the Verein Zoologischer Garten München e.V. (Engl. Society of the Zoological Garden of Munich) was founded and the Hellabrunn area was chosen as the location for the zoo.
On August 1, 1911, the zoo, planned by the famous architect Emanuel von Seidl, opened for the public for the first time, but in 1922, it had to be closed down due to the inflation in Germany.
After the re-opening on May 23, 1928, the Tierpark Hellabrunn became the first Geo-Zoo in the world and engaged in the controversial back-breeding to "recreate" extinct animals like Heck cattle (to mimic the Aurochs) and the Tarpan.
During World War II, the zoo sustained massive damage due to allied air raids, but it was able, amazingly, to reopen in May 1945.
In 1970, a badly needed plan for the renovation of the zoo was drawn up.
Under the direction of Prof. Dr. Henning Wiesner, Hellabrunn is today the largest zoo in Europe. The preserves of the animals—about 7,700 vertebrates of 340 different species—are arranged along geographic lines.
The Tierpark Hellabrunn is very active in breeding, reintroduction and conservation projects.
In 2003, about 1.4 million people visited Hellabrunn.