Munich in English - selected by independent Locals for Cosmopolitans, Newcomers and Residents - since 1989

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November 2004

Animal Magic

See tthe wild side of life at Munich's animal shelter

Owning a dog could help you shed the pounds—and that’s before you’ve even set foot out of the house. Barking mad? Not according to US researchers, who claim that simply petting Rover results in decreased levels of the primary stress hor-mone cortisol, which is responsible for regulating appetite and cravings for carbohydrates. That’s all very well if you’ve got your own pooch. For those who’ve either had to leave furry, scaly or feathered friends behind before moving to Munich, or who live in accommodation not suitable for a pet, or who simply don’t want to be so tied down, there is an answer—Munich’s animal shelter. Opened in 1956, the Ignaz-Perner-Tierheim in Riem provides a safe haven for more than 7,000 neglected creatures a year and welcomes anyone who wants to walk or play with the dogs and cats, or simply wishes to lend a hand with the large array of animals. Of course some members of the menagery could do more harm to your health than good. Over the years the shelter has taken in a lion, three panthers, a camel, two Zebu (humped cattle), a wolf, foxes, snakes, tropical spiders and many species of monkey—11 of which are still residents. How, you may wonder, do such animals come to find themselves in Munich and, more to the point, what does the shelter do with them? Most, it seems, are the result of illegal trade in exotic animals, either through people buying them as “souvenirs” on holiday (some 6,800 live animals were seized at German airports in 2003 alone) or via the Internet, which, as a virtually unregulated medium, is one to which animal dealers are flocking. Indeed the business is worth a staggering $10 billion a year. However, it does not take a genius to see that caring for such creatures is often nearly impossible and as soon as the novelty of having such an exotic pet wears thin, many owners simply release the animals into the wild. It is at this point that the shelter steps in. In some cases it cares for and repatriates furry residents, with 90 percent being transferred to a more suitable home within just six weeks. If animals cannot be kept safely at the shelter, however, they are taken in by the fish, reptile and poisonous animal department of Munich’s Ludwig- Maximilian University, as was the case with a five-foot-long Cape Monitor, a carnivorous tropical reptile. Farm animals, too, are far from scarce at the home, which currently houses three pigs, eight sheep and numerous fowl.

As for the human quotient, the shelter employs 50 regular staff members, including three vets and 20 caretakers. This is in addition to 40 volunteers, who undertake an array of tasks, from walking dogs to cleaning, doing laundry or carrying out repair work on the building. Needless to say they come across some harrowing tales. Once, for example, a German Shepherd with her three-day-old puppies was found dumped in a paper bag at the old Botanical Gardens in Munich. On another occasion a truck returning to Italy from Estonia was stopped near Nuremberg and was found to contain 41 dogs that had been rented for sport hunting. The animals were seized and brought to Munich in an extremely poor condition. In another case a skunk, whose owner had removed its scent gland—essential for the animal’s survival—was found roaming the city’s streets by the fire department.

Indeed there are many lessons to be learned, simply from seeing how some so-called animal lovers have gone so wrong. The shelter runs a children’s program, the Tigerrattenclub, which teaches youngsters about the animals and how to care for them. It also offers adoption opportunities, with sponsors being asked to make a contribution of between € 30 a month for a dog to € 50 a month for a monkey. In addition several public events are organized throughout the year—the next is the Christmas celebration on December 12. For more events and information visit If you are interested in helping out, or wish to stop by the center, it is possible to arrange a visit when one of three English speakers is present—the best way is to send an e-mail to Angelika Kretschmer at

Tierschutzverein München e.V., Ignaz-Perner-Tierheim
Riemer Strasse 270, Tel. (089) 921 00 00, Fax (089) 90 73 20
Missing animals: Tel. (089) 92 10 00 22
Drop-off of dogs and small animals: Tel. (089) 92 10 00 44
for cats and birds: Tel. (089) 92 10 00 48,
Visiting hours are Weds.–Sun. 1 pm–4 pm, closed holidays
Business hours are Mon.–Fri. 9 am–12 pm, 1 pm–4 pm
Stray animals can be dropped off or picked up
Mon.–Sun. and holidays 9 am–12 pm, 1 pm–4 pm

How to get there:
Public transportation: Bus 91 from Max-Weber-Platz to Tierheim;
S-Bahn S6 to Riem, then a ten-minute walk.

Interested in helping? Become a member for € 31 per year (€ 10 for children, students and senior citizens), which includes a monthly newsletter and their official magazine, Tierisches München. A list of items which the center would appreciate as donations can be found on the Website under Hot Spots.

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