Pyongyang Zoo in Pictures

Pyongyang zoo, or the Korea Central Zoo as it officially known, is North Korea’s national zoo. DPRK founder Kim Il Sung ordered its construction in 1959 at the base of Mt Taesong in what was then the outskirts of Pyongyang. It was fully renovated and re-opened in the summer of 2016.

Rocky Road Travel were the first to gain entry to the new Pyongyang zoo. Here’s a sneak peak of what we saw.

Locals looking at a map of Pyongyang Zoo
Pyongyang Zoo Map

Hero Elephant

The zoo started off life with only a few badgers but soon after opening it received its first “gift animals”. Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh gifted the zoo a single elephant and all elephants in the zoo today are descended from this one.

Perhaps the most fascinating part of your visit to Pyongyang zoo is reading about the origin of each animal in the zoo.

According to the zoo, Ho Chi Minh considered the elephant a hero in the revolutionary movement as it assisted carrying weapons in the fight against French colonialism.

Other gift animals came in the form of a Panda from Mao Zedong, zebras and ostriches from Tanzania, orangutans from Indonesia and another elephant from Laos. Other interesting characters like Colonel Qaddafi and Robert Mugabe donated livestock over the years.

In recent years and prior to the reopening of the zoo, shipments of animals came from Russia, the Netherlands and South Africa.

Elephants at Pyongyang zoo
Plaque showing elephants donated by Laos at Pyongyang Zoo
A Bear at the Pyongyang Zoo
Bear Enclosure
Pyongyang couple taking a camel ride at the zoo
Camel Ride

Dogs and a Smoking Chimp

Perhaps the most popular attraction we saw was the dog enclosure. Dog ownership is growing but still minuscule and restricted to the elite in North Korea. However, the number of dogs in the zoo show people’s fondness for the animals. Kim Jung Un himself donated the schnauzers, poodles, German shepherds and a Chihuahua.

There’s also descendants of a Jindo dog that was presented by South Korean President Kim Dae Jong at the height of the Sunshine Policy in 2000.

Oh and there’s also a smoking chimpanzee but we won’t go into too much detail on that.

North Korean guide feeding a dog at Pyongyang central zoo
A smoking Chimpanzee at the Pyongyang Zoo
The aforementioned smoking chimp

Pyongyang zoo can be visited on a North Korean Independent tour. Entrance fee is €5. The adjoining Natural History museum entrance fee is another €5. Plan to spend at least a couple of hours at the site.

For more information on travelling to North Korea, contact us today!

Natural History Museum, Pyongyang.
Natural History Museum, Pyongyang.
Pyongyang zoo tiger donated by Kim Jong Il
Tiger Donated by Kim Jong Il

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Rocky road travel founder Shane Horan at the DMZ

Shane Horan


When Shane is not endlessly writing award winning content for Rocky Road, he's usually kayaking to and from the beer garden along Berlin's River Spree.