GIVSKUD ZOO - ZOOTOPIA, or the Lion Park as it was originally known, was founded in 1969 by Jacob Hansen. Jacob Hansen, who owned a small zoo in the town of Vejle, drew inspiration from Europe for the first Danish safari park with free-roaming lions. Despite a number of teething problems, and notwithstanding the initial scepticism of the authorities, Givskud Lion Park first opened its doors on 12 August 1969 and became an overnight success.
GIVSKUD ZOO - ZOOTOPIA is a charitable foundation.
Opened: 12th August 1969
Visit record: 453.000 (In year 2022)
Area - park: 65 acres
Area: 120 acres
Number of species: 50
Number of animals: 600
More animals appear
The idea of letting visitors experience the animals moving freely around in large enclosures proved to be extremely popular. Over the next few years, the Lion Park was extended to include a number of other species. At the time, the concept represented a novel alternative to the more traditional urban zoos. The present-day GIVSKUD ZOO - ZOOTOPIA, with its large enclosures, has proved to be one of the best and most dignified ways to keep larger species in captivity.
Following his death in 1971, Jacob Hansen’s family continued to manage the Lion Park until 1983. The park then became an independent institution and changed its name to GIVSKUD ZOO. GIVSKUD ZOO was officially recognised by the State in 1989, and the park now receives an annual grant from the Danish Ministry of Culture.
The gorilla effect
In 1998 GIVSKUD ZOO received a family of gorillas from Copenhagen Zoo, and the new inhabitants proved to be a real crowd-puller. No fewer than 441,000 people visited the park that year – still the highest number ever recorded! Samson, the big male gorilla, and his family became national celebrities when a series of programmes on Danish television followed their move from Copenhagen to Givskud.
Present and future
Over the past few years, the rhinos have moved into a new, modern stable, and two ‘small’ rhino babies have already seen the light of day here. A new lemur enclosure was built in connection with EAZA’s Madagascar campaign. The enclosure is home to both ring-tailed lemurs and red-fronted brown lemurs. At the end of 2007, work began on a new development plan that will serve as a roadmap for the future development of GIVSKUD ZOO.