Thousands roam the icy mountains, soon to migrate in flocks from their summer to winter pastures. But you don’t have to go to the countryside to see these cold-weather cervids, as Stockholm, Sweden’s trendy capital city, boasts one of the most extraordinary animal preserves with over 70 different Scandinavian species–Skansen Zoo. The big-city reindeer (a semi-domesticated animal in Sweden) live in large comfortable expanses with Nordic companions like brown bears, wolves, wolverines, seal, elk and lynx. Many of the zoo’s animals are ‘protected species’ due to their dwindling numbers in the wild. The lynx, protected since 1991, is the only wild feline indigenous to Sweden. The wolverines, considered Sweden’s most threatened species with fewer than 100 in the country, have been protected since the 1960’s.
Traditional Swedish livestock also live within Skansen’s property, such as horses, cows, chicken, ducks, sheep, goats and pigs. Skansen works to preserve the traditional Swedish livestock breeds, as many of the old Swedish breeds have been eliminated over the years through selective breeding. Skansen also features exotic aquatic species in its aquarium, including fish, corals, crocodiles, turtles, lizards, and snakes.
Skansen is located in the center of Stockholm on the island of Djurgården, one of the fourteen islands that make up the capitol city. Djurgården, literally translating to ‘animal farm’, once served as a royal hunting ground, and has made good by the animals of Sweden by sporting the animal preserve.
Skansen not only hosts the Nordic zoological park but also the world’s first open air museum created to preserve Sweden’s rich history and culture. It was founded in 1891 by Arthur Hazelius for the purpose of showing how people had lived and worked in different parts of Sweden in times gone by. About 150 historic buildings, predominantly dating to the 18th and 19th centuries, have been moved to Skansen from nearly every part of Sweden. Residents in Skansen’s ‘Town Quarters’ take you back in time, dressing in period Swedish clothing and engaging in typical domestic activities like weaving and spinning. Entire villages are seemingly lifted from the pages of Sweden’s rich history.
Spotlighting Sweden’s extensive wildlife and quaint village life-Skansen is truly a Smorgåsbord of natural and cultural delights.