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Ouwehands Zoo – Netherlands

Last Updated on December 30, 2023 by Themepark Freak

Are you currently in the Netherlands and looking for something to do? Why not take the afternoon to visit the Ouwehands Zoo in Rhenen?

About the Ouwehands Zoo

Cor Ouwehand

It all started with a chicken farm in 1919 Cor Ouwehand, the zoo’s founder, moved away from Rotterdam to start a cigar factory. However, as one does, he changed his mind and decided to set up a chicken farm instead.

Of course, Ouwehand couldn’t stick to just chickens. Before he (and the surrounding area) knew it, his farm had all sorts of animals. He had peacocks, pheasants and even racoons. Unfortunately, when the Great Depression hit, the chicken farm lost a lot of business.

One interesting thing did happen, however. People kept coming to see the animals on the farm as a form of entertainment. That’s when Ouwehand got the bright idea to turn his farm into a zoo.

Ouwehands Zoo During WW2

As war approached, German soldiers dressed as everyday Dutch people visited the zoo. They found that Grebbeberg (in which the zoo was located) was a weak spot in the Dutch defense line.

In May, 1940 during the battle of Grebbeberg, the Dutch authorities issued the edict to shoot all of the dangerous animals in the zoo. This, unfortunately, included the hippos and elephants among many other animal species. While it seems quite heartless today, it was to prevent people from getting hurt if the animals escaped during a bombing.

After the war, Ouwehand rebuilt but it was very slow going. When he passed in 1950, his son and brother in law took over. It took until 1953 for the Dutch government to compensate the zoo for the loss of their animals.

Ouwehands Dierenpark Today

It’s hard to believe today, but the zoo almost went bankrupt in the 1990s. However, when the zoo was sold in the 2000s, there were investments made into the zoo. The area was expanded by 22 hectares, animal enclosures and other areas were modernized and special projects have been realized.

Today, Ouwehands Zoo is concerned about conservation (both species and nature), research, education of the public and welfare of their animals.

What’s Inside the Zoo?

Inside the Ouwehands Zoo, there is a lot to see and do! Here is a small tasting of what you can expect on your afternoon out!

Lions, Elephants and Pandas

Since you’re visiting a zoo, you can of course expect animals! There are a lot to see at the Ouwehands Zoo which include, but are not limited to:

  • African lions and elephants
  • Giant panda
  • Giraffe
  • Birds of all kinds
  • Reptiles
  • Meerkats
  • Sea lions

Indoor Play Jungle

There’s a 4,000 square meter indoor play jungle for children up to 12 to play and explore in! The jungle allows them to pretend that they’re different animals where they can crawl, slither and climb different elements.

While the kids play, the adults can go sit on the restaurant terrace with a warm cup of coffee or cold drink.

Go Nose to Nose with a Polar Bear

The polar bears have a huge enclosure that allows you to watch through a glass wall. Watch the polar bears play and swim. Maybe they’ll even get up close!

Get a Snack or a Meal at the Zoo

A little hungry while exploring Ouwehands Zoo? At the indoor jungle playground, there’s a restaurant where you can pick up sandwiches, salads and smoothies. If you’re feeling like something Asian, head over to the Giant Pandas where you can pick out a lunch special.

Practical Information for Visiting Ouwehands Zoo

The following is the practical information for a day out at the Ouwehands Zoo. You will find the location, prices and accessibility information!

Location of Ouwehands Dierenpark

Ouwehands Dierenpark is located in Rhenen. The address is:

Grebbeweg 111
3911 AV Rhenen

Zoo Opening Hours

The zoo has variable opening hours depending on the time of the year. Make sure to check the Ouwehand Dierenpark website for the opening hours during your planned visit.

Driving to Ouwehands Zoo

If you wish to drive to Ouwehands zoo, you can put the above address in your navigation system. Likely you will be given the choice of two routes depending on where you’re coming from in the Netherlands.

  • A12 (Utrecht-Arnhem) using exit 23a Veenendaal
  • A15 (Rotterdam-Nijmegen) using exit 35 Ochten

There is a large, paid parking lot at the zoo. You can purchase your parking ticket when you make your online reservation to reduce the wait time to pay.

Traveling to the Zoo by Public Transport

What if you don’t own a car? Or you want to experience the journey to Rhenen by bus or train? Public transport to the zoo is incredibly easy.

The website (or mobile app) that everyone in the Netherlands uses is called 9292. You can tell it from where you will be traveling from and where you want to go. Then 9292 will plan out your trip, including the time it takes to walk to the bus stop or train station.

With 9292, you can even purchase the ticket for your entire journey!

Once you get to Rhenen, the train station is located 800 meter away from the entrance of the zoo. If you came by bus, you’ll be dropped off directly in front of the entrance.

Entrance Price to Ouwehands Dierenpark

Tickets to the zoo can only be purchased online, ahead of time. You must select your arrival time and come within that time slot.

The following rates are valid until the end of March 2024:

  • Adults: €28.50
  • Students: €26.00 (weekdays and non holidays only)
  • 3-9 years: €25.50
  • 0-2 years: Free

Then there’s some extra’s you can book:

  • Parking: €8.00
  • Bring your dog: €5.50 per dog (includes poop bag and doggy treat)

Are you coming with a group or looking to get a year pass?

  • Groups of 20+: €24.50 pp
  • Year card: €60-66 (more info about what you get)
  • Parking subscription: €24.00 per year

Accessibility at the Ouwehands Zoo

Panda Ouwehand's Zoo

Are you wondering what the accessibility is like at Ouwehands? Here is a break down!

Wheelchair accessibility: the zoo is wheelchair accessible. They have replaced stairs with ramps.

Disabled parking places: can be found in P1 at the front of the parking lot, near the edge of the forest.

Disabled toilets: are available in several places through the zoo. At the entrance to the park, the Cuban flamingos, the Jungle restaurant, and the Pandasia restaurant.

At this time, there is no guidelines on sensory or stimulation type events at the park outside of typical animal noises. There is also nothing listed about bringing your own food into the park.

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