Natura Artis Magistra

By Mike / On / In Appsterdam

The summer weather in Amsterdam reminds me a lot of Hawaii, the mix of sun and rain. This was on display yesterday as 20 intrepid Appsterdammers set out on an urban safari across the marvel that is the Artis Zoo for our first Appsterdam Family Weekend.

We had a good mix of people: adults and children, expats and locals, stalwarts and newbies. We got together at the Artis gate of what is properly called Natura Artis Magistra (Nature the Teacher of Art), the 19th century garden in the heart of the Dutch capital.

Each of the three gates bears one part of the name, and the popularity of the Artis gate, and of the garden’s grand menagerie, led to the more common designation that we know it by today: the Artis Zoo.

Despite the naming confusion, Artis is more than just a zoo. It also hosts an aquarium, a planetarium, and two museums. There is a good mix of indoor and outdoor exhibits and attractions, which makes it perfect for mixed weather.


I’ve been to a lot of zoos. I’m a big fan of them. I got the VIP tour at the St. Louis Zoo for a fundraiser I did for the Madagascar Fauna Group. I got married at the Honolulu zoo. I have a good base of reference when I say the Artis may be my favorite zoo.

I also love lemurs. I’ve championed a bunch of lemur-related causes. I made a nice donation to the Lemur Conservation Foundation while I was in Florida so I could stop by and visit their lemurs. When I go to any zoo, I head straight for the lemurs. Sometimes that’s all I’ll see.

The two lemur exhibits at Artis are completely open, meaning the lemurs are just running around with you. They could jump on your head if they were so inclined. How awesome is that? When I’m hanging out with the lemurs at Artis, I think, as I so often do in Amsterdam, you can’t do this in the States.


What made this last visit to the Artis even better is that I was there with a bunch of other App Makers and their families. Most of us went for dinner and drinks afterwards. It’s fun to go to the zoo, and it’s fun to go out for dinner, but it’s even more fun with a bunch of your friends.

That is what we talk about when we talk about Appsterdam.

Special thanks to Vijay for sharing his pictures.