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Greifswald, Germany

Welt der Gifte

At this exhibit on the world of poison, venomous animals steal the show. 

For an institution that isn’t a zoo or a park, the Welt Der Gifte in Greifswald, Germany is home to a surprising number of reptiles and insects, but only of the venomous variety.

The permanent exhibit dedicated to the world of poison was put together by Doctor Nils Kley, a veterinary expert from the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut. Kley spent two years assembling the living and nonliving exhibits. The museum, which opened in 2017, aims to spread knowledge about poisons and their role in various aspects of life.

While the focus is on venomous animals, it also includes organic as well as inorganic toxins such as poisonous plants and seeds, mushrooms, microorganisms, poisonous elements, and their various compounds. The facility can only be visited by booking a guided tour, with four different main topics to choose from: Toxins in Nature, Toxins in Daily life, Healing Toxins, and Toxins in Art and Fashion.

Depending on the individual topic, visitors will be able to observe the bacteria Clostridium botulinum under the microscope and learn about its connection to botox injections; understand unexpected and delicious means of intoxication such as quail, pineapple, or cinnamon; wonder about weird fashion trends such as arsenic clothes; touch real blow pipes from Brazilian indigenous tribes; and see several real-life ingredients from Harry Potter’s potions classes.

But the show stealers are the snakes, lizards, scorpions, spiders, and toads—around 30 in total—all of which produce deadly venom within their bodies. They can be observed at close quarters and the tours explain their relation to the biology of poison.

Visitors can also book additional tours, photo sessions, and handling or husbandry courses.

Know Before You Go

Tours can be booked online. Free parking available.