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Artis (zoo)

Coordinates: 52°21′58″N 04°55′00″E / 52.36611°N 4.91667°E / 52.36611; 4.91667
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(Redirected from Natura Artis Magistra)
Artis Royal Zoo
Natura Artis Magistra
The zoo's entrance in 2004
52°21′58″N 04°55′00″E / 52.36611°N 4.91667°E / 52.36611; 4.91667
Date opened1838; 186 years ago (1838)[1]
LocationAmsterdam, Netherlands
No. of species900[1]
Annual visitors1,448,345 (2019)[2]

729,755 (2020)[3]

712,941 (2021)[4]
MembershipsNVD,[5] EAZA,[6] ISIS,[7] WAZA[8]
DirectorRembrandt Sutorius[9]
Public transit accessArtis (tram stop line 14)[10]

Natura Artis Magistra (Latin for "Nature is the teacher of art"), commonly known just as Artis (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɑrtɪs]), is a zoo and botanical garden in the centre of Amsterdam. It is the oldest zoo in the Netherlands and fifth oldest zoo in the world.[11]

In addition to the zoo, Artis also contains an aquarium, a planetarium, an arboretum, Micropia, and the Groote Museum. A part of the art collection is on display in the aquarium building of the zoo. Artis contains 27 historically significant (listed) buildings, bridges, and ponds, most of which are still used as animal enclosures.

The zoo is a member of the Dutch Zoo Federation (NVD), the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), Species360, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and the Nederlandse Vereniging van Botanische Tuinen [nl] (NVBT).[12]


Litho of the zoo's founders J.J. Wijsmuller, G.F. Westerman, and J.W.H. Werlemann from 1888
Postcard of the monkey cage in 1908

The zoo was founded in 1838 by three zoology enthusiasts, Gerard Westerman, J.W.H. Werlemann and J.J. Wijsmuller (also known as the three Ws). It was initially open only to members. Starting in 1851 it was opened to the public during the month of September.[13] In 1920 it was opened year-round to the public, but September remains discount month.[14]

The core of the current zoo property, then the "Middenhof" estate, was purchased by the board of the zoological society "Natura Artis Magistra" late in 1838 in the Plantage, which was then a thinly populated area on the outskirts of Amsterdam. From the start it exhibited both live and mounted specimens.[15]

The zoo is commonly referred to as Artis, because the zoo has three gates with the words 'Natura', 'Artis', and 'Magistra' written above each of them, respectively, which combined formed its actual name. More often than not, only the middle gate was open, so that people who walked through it, seeing that 'Artis' was written above it, believed that the zoo was just called Artis. Thanks to this, soon few people knew it by its full name: Natura Artis Magistra.

The last quagga in captivity died at Artis on 12 August 1883. At the time, because all zebras were referred to as quagga, nobody realized that this was the last quagga alive until years later.

Historic buildings

Aquarium building in 2012

Artis includes 27 historic buildings. The aquarium was built in 1882 on land leased from the city on condition that only a museum ever be built on it.[16] The Heimans-diorama (1926) is located in the back of the aquarium.[17] The library dates back to 1867 and the building the 'Ledenlokalen' on the right side of the main entrance dates back to the 19th century as well.

The wolf house (formerly an inn), and the Masman Garden House which now houses scarlet ibis were both on the site before the zoo was established.[14]


Reading room of the library in 2012

Artis has a library on the history of zoology and botany. It houses the library of the zoo, as well as the libraries of the Zoological Museum Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Botanical Garden. It also hosts the archives of a number of zoologists and botanists, such as the archive of Hugo de Vries. It contains 20,000 books, 3000 manuscripts and 80,000 animal prints.[18]

The library is part of the special collections of the University of Amsterdam.



  1. ^ a b "Artis Royal Zoo in Amsterdam". amsterdamtips.com. Amsterdam Tips. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
  2. ^ "Jaarverslag 2019" (in Dutch), Artis. Retrieved 4 September 2022.
  3. ^ "Jaarverslag 2020" (in Dutch), Artis. Retrieved 4 September 2022.
  4. ^ "Jaarverslag 2021" (in Dutch), Artis. Retrieved 4 September 2022.
  5. ^ "NVD Zoos". nvdzoos.nl. NVD. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  6. ^ "EAZA Member Zoos & Aquariums". eaza.net. EAZA. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  7. ^ "Member Locator". isis.org. ISIS. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  8. ^ "Zoos and Aquariums of the World". waza.org. WAZA. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  9. ^ "Organisatie" (in Dutch), Artis. Retrieved 4 September 2022.
  10. ^ "Directions and parking", Artis. Retrieved 4 September 2022.
  11. ^ "Bristol Zoo sluit na 186 jaar, Artis in top-5 oudste dierentuinen". nos.nl (in Dutch). 2022-09-04. Retrieved 2024-02-24.
  12. ^ Graaff, Sam de (2020-06-05). "Artis is voortaan officieel een botanische tuin". Het Parool (in Dutch). Retrieved 2020-07-14.
  13. ^ Mehos 2006, pp. 23–26
  14. ^ a b "In Artis". artis.nl. Artis. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
  15. ^ "About ZMA". science.uva.nl. University of Amsterdam. Retrieved 24 June 2011.
  16. ^ Mehos 2006, pp. 48–55
  17. ^ Oldenburger, Juliet (2011). "Het Heimans-diorama in Artis, een Hollands duinlandschap verbeeld". Binnenstad (248).
  18. ^ "Bijzondere Collecties: Natuurlijke History". Amsterdam University Library. Archived from the original on 2014-05-03. Retrieved 2012-10-17.