Basel Zoo is an enormous home for animals with an aquarium, a birdhouse and many vast expanses of vegetation where exotic beasts roam. The zoo’s philosophy is to keep the animals happy in large spaces resembling their natural habitats. Look for the 650 different species in Switzerland’s oldest animal park, which dates back to 1874.
The zoo is an ideal site for a long walk in the sunshine due to its large size and picturesque setting. Take a tour of the zoo with a zookeeper who will explain the biology and context of each animal.
Watch some of the fearsome beasts in the Etosha section, which is named after a national park in Namibia. Here, you will find lions, cheetahs, meerkats and other natural predators. Learn about the animals’ habits and habitats from exhibits and plaques. Go to the Africa area to see some of the continent’s most remarkable animals, including hippos, zebras and ostriches, living together.
Take a look at your closest non-human relatives in The Ape House, where gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans play and swing on ropes. Watch tiny spider monkeys and white-faced sakis on the rooftop section. Take the kids to the small playground near the enclosure.
In the children’s zoo, kids can pet animals and watch penguins waddling in a large garden. Wander through the scenic Vivarium to see lizards, snakes and bizarre fish. Have lunch at one of several restaurants and cafés dotted around the park.
Basel Zoo plays such an important role in the city’s culture that locals have given it an affectionate nickname, “Zolli.”
The site opens daily from morning until late afternoon. There is a fee for adults, with discounts for under 25s, children and seniors. You can also purchase annual passes and group tickets.
Find the entrance to Basel Zoo in the downtown area of Steinen, although its grounds extend as far as the city’s southern border with Binningen. It is a short walk from Basel SBB Railway Station and many tram and bus stops.