Built in 1935 and completely renewed in 1970, Dierenpark Emmen is considered to be one of the finest zoos in Europe and has won various prizes. Animals live in carefully reconstructed natural habitats according to vegetation, climate, and elevation. Because of lack of space, a new, second site was opened in 1998 just outside of Emmen. The two parts of the zoo are well connected with each other and one ticket is sufficient for both parts.
The zoo has had great success breeding Asian elephants, with 26 births since 1992 and four births in 2010 and 2011 alone. In 2011 there were 13 elephants at the zoo, others having been transported to other zoos. The elephant accommodations comprise a large moated island for females and calves, and a separate smaller island for the bull, with indoor housing being underground.
The city council of Emmen has approved the construction of a completely new zoo, expected to draw 1.3 million visitors annually. The new zoo will be completed in 2015 and is part of a plan for revitalizing the city center of Emmen. Visitors will be able to walk from the new City plaza to the new zoo, which will initially be about 10 hectares (25 acres) with an additional 22 hectares (54 acres) for expansion, and will include about 40,000 square metres (430,000 sq ft) of interior space, including a theater.