Using controlling instruments to become master over tigers and monkeys – Sabine Kirner, Berlin Zoo

© Zoologischer Garten Berlin AG

She has a handle on lions, bears, pandas, and co. Sabine Kirner is the controller at one of the most extraordinary employers in Germany - Zoologischer Garten Berlin. LucaNet has been supporting the Zoo and Sabine Kirner since 2016 with its software solution for integrated financial planning and controlling. In an interview, she tells us about extraordinary moments over the past months, what makes her work enjoyable, and her day-to-day work as a controller in such a special environment.

“Our cost centers have names like Carnivore House or Great Apes.”

– Sabine Kirner, Controller

Interview with Sabine Kirner, Head of Controlling at the Berlin Zoo

Is working at a zoo the fulfillment of a childhood dream for you?

Sabine Kirner: It is true that I’ve always enjoyed going to the zoo, not just as a child. Yet due to my training in sales and business, as well as my professional experience in the IT and media industry, I did not really see the Zoo as a potential employer. But when I saw they were looking for a controller for the Zoo, I submitted my application immediately.

This really is a very special job here. It is in no way comparable to other companies I’ve worked for in the past. That starts with the fact that controlling here doesn’t involve any classic cost centers like production or sales. Our cost centers include names like Carnivore House or Great Apes. Thus, it really is very special to be working at the Zoo. In principle, no one day is like the other.

The Berlin Zoo received five nominations for the Giant Panda Award. On February 8, 2018, the decision was made: Two golds and one bronze went to Berlin. Congratulations! How proud does that make you personally?

Sabine Kirner: Yes, that was great. Our bear Meng Meng won the prize for most popular panda outside of China. There was also gold for the category “Panda Moment of the Year.” Meaning, of course, the inauguration of our Panda Garden in July 2017 – featuring Chinese President Xi Jinping and our Chancellor Merkel. That was a truly amazing moment! There was also bronze for the Panda Garden itself as the most beautiful panda zoo enclosure. To sum it up, one can say that 2017 was a very exciting year for the Zoo. First, there were the contract negotiations for the pandas, then planning and construction of the facility in record time, and finally the celebratory handover with a state ceremony at our Zoo. That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all of the staff at the Zoo. And then came the presentation of the awards here on site. That is an absolute crowning of a special year for all of us. It makes me unbelievably proud to be a part of this team!

Controlling with a view to environmental protection, flamingos, and elephants

Does it give you a different perspective on things?

Sabine Kirner: Yes, certainly. The Zoo and the Animal Park, which I also oversee as controller and use our controlling instruments for, are both non-profit companies. A company mission is, of course, to promote science and education.

Animal conservation is another very important aspect. We are highly engaged in species protection and provide local support for many projects worldwide. The awareness we seek to create does also rub off on us personally. For example, we are participating in the EU’s “Our Ocean” campaign. It addresses littering in the oceans and how important it is to avoid plastic waste. When you are surrounded by this kind of animal diversity on a daily basis, you develop a strong need be a good example in your personal life. I really experience here what kind of consequences my own actions have for other habitats.

What is it you look forward to most when you come into work in the morning?

Sabine Kirner: The best part is actually cycling through the park before the visitors arrive. You experience the animals in an entirely different manner. And, of course, it is special to be able to work where others come to spend their free time. In my case, this involves an office with a view of flamingos and elephants – although we are in the middle of Berlin!

Do you still visit the Zoo in your free time?

Sabine Kirner: As crazy as it sounds, yes. There are times when I’m at the Zoo seven days a week – on the weekend of course for pleasure! And each visit is different: Sometimes those animals are more active, sometimes these animals are. Sometimes there is a brand-new baby to be discovered. For me, the Zoo is still a place to come to enjoy myself. Even when I am on trips, I go to the zoos there. I take a look at how others do it.

How Zoologischer Garten Berlin benefits from LucaNet’s controlling instruments

One final question in closing: How does our controlling software help you in your daily work?

Sabine Kirner: We save a lot of time in monthly reporting. In the past, we had to tediously collect all of the data by hand from various systems. That was always prone to error. Now we have the time and the flexibility to easily perform special analyses or quickly update the data. That is a vast improvement.

Did you know? More about Zoologischer Garten Berlin

The Berlin Zoo was founded in 1844, making it Germany’s oldest. It is also the most species-rich zoo worldwide. When Berlin was divided, the Animal Park was founded in 1954 in East Berlin. At 160 hectares, it is Europe’s largest animal park today. Following reunification, the two Berlin institutions quickly agreed to cooperate with their respective unique attributes and strengths. That collaboration continues today, and will be further intensified in the future. The Berlin Zoo is one of the few zoos in the world and the only one in Germany that houses pandas. All of the pandas are on loan from the Chinese government and have to be returned after the loan period has ended.

The Berlin Zoo and Animal Park have been using LucaNet.Planner for their financial planning since 2016. In her customer story, Sabine Kirner gives a thorough report on how she uses LucaNet software to significantly simplify her day-to-day work.


LucaNet.Planner is the software solution for controlling and financial planning. It’s great for any sector, offering professional financial controlling as well as integrated financial planning. We’ve put together comprehensive information on our software for controlling and financial planning on our website.



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