Visit Zolli, the Zoo of Basel
The citizens of Basel affectionately named their Zoological Gardens Zolli when it opened its doors over 120 years ago on 3 July 1874. Back then it showed to the public mainly European species of deer, birds, wild boar, bear, wolf, chamoix and wild cats. In the first year 62,000 visitors came, despite Basel only having 50,000 inhabitants.
Today the zoo has 12 enclosures with indigenous and exotic animals from all over the world. For little ones there is a children’s zoo with a petting zoo for under 8s and older ones are actively encouraged to help with the running of the farm.
In Etosha (named after a national park in Namibia) there are two houses featuring cheetahs, monkeys, wild dogs and lions and "Gamgoas” – the name given to the place where lions live by the Bushmen, several outdoor areas and an interactive exhibition which gives fascinating insights into the life of Savannah.
The Australis area was opened in 2006. In the converted former stable “Bongo” and the redesigned “Aussenanlage”, Western Grey kangaroos live together with Australian bush turkeys. Inside the house there are terrariums with various representatives of Australian fauna: Gecko, Black Widow spiders, cane toads, stick insects and tree pythons. A small exhibition provides detailed information on the unique mode of reproduction of marsupials in Australia.
In the Africa zone, hippos, zebras and ostriches live happily together in a recreation of the African plains. Other areas include the newly opened Monkey House, Antelope House and Elephant enclosure with both African and Indian elephants and a Rhino enclosure. A vivarium and bird house and the Sauter Garden named after Ulrich Sauter who managed the zoo in 1934.
It is a great family day out and easy to get to from the city centre, the train station SBB is just a 10 minute walk away. There are plenty of places to picnic within the zoo and there is also a restaurant on site as well. It is popular in both winter and summer as there are large open spaces to stroll in in summer and indoor houses to discover creatures in a closer and more personal way. There are also opportunities to see animals swimming under water in the vivarium.
Future projects for the zoo include renovation of the restaurant in 2014, a new elephant house expected to open in 2016 and Switzerland’s first oceanarium expected to be operational in 2019.
See also : City Break Basel