Zoo Zajac – Duisburg, Germany - Atlas Obscura

Zoo Zajac

The world's biggest pet store. 


Though it’s actually an enormous pet store, this collection of over 3,000 animal species rightly lives up to the “zoo” in its name.

Zoo Zajac’s customers are treated to an exhibition of some of the most incredible species on the planet. A staggering 250,000 animals, ranging from the mundane to the exotic, are sold here: Sloths, armadillos, jellyfish and peacock live side by side.

The owner of this rare menagerie, Norbert Zajac, was already breeding and selling hamsters in his West German neighborhood by the time he was 8 years old. Next up were tortoises, guinea pigs and a crocodile. At 13, Norbert became Germany’s youngest parrot breeder. 

It’s no surprise, then, that after a couple of stints in the steel industry and brief period in the army, the 20-year-old Zajac in 1975 opened his first pet store in the city of Duisburg. Today, Zoo Zajac operates in a vast warehouse and has been officially named the world’s biggest pet store by the Guinness Book of World Records.  

Zajac is famous for his epic tours of the pet store, which can last up to five hours. He’ll give advice to prospective pet owners and show guests how to feed anything from grasshoppers to monitor lizards. A man of his experience knows the business of pet ownership, too: In response to popular demand, Zajac Zoo is the only pet store in Germany to sell dogs. 

However, managing what is effectively a zoo is not without its risks. Zajac claims to have already died three times after his heart stopped when he was stung by a lionfish at the store.

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