Amazing Encounters in Basel Zoo

by Kyla Partridge /
Kyla Partridge's picture
Jul 30, 2012 / 0 comments

The city of Basel offers countless enjoyable experiences. This beautiful cultural center is the third most populated city in all of Switzerland. Its location along both the French and German borders gives it a colorful history and unique traditions. Basel offers a variety of museums, theaters, and festivals that occur throughout the year. The Museum of Fine Arts displays the world’s oldest art collection accessible to the public. Also, the city’s largest cultural event, Fasnacht, draws huge crowds every winter for an unforgettable carnival of food, music, and celebration. However, if you’re looking for something to do any day of the year, rain or shine, the Basel Zoo is the place to visit.


Basel Zoo receives nearly 1.7 million visitors each year, making it the most visited tourist attraction in the entire city. Established in 1874, it is the oldest zoo in Switzerland with the largest number of animals. The zoo offers a wide variety of exceptional animals from all over the world including ostriches, okapi, giraffes, macaques, and elephants. Their exhibits are constructed to resemble each creature’s natural habitat and offer creative stimulation. Their enclosures have convenient barriers such as moats and ditches that allow visitors to observe the animals without the common inconvenience of fences. The zoo is clean and well organized with little evidence of its city location.


Giraffe, Basel Zoo


Upon the opening of Basel Zoo, common animals that were familiar to the geographical region were put on display. Due to the zoo’s success and the enthusiasm of guests, newer, more exotic wildlife was introduced. The zoo is constantly growing and renovating to accommodate for the diversity and needs of the animals. Today the zoo offers impressive exhibits such as elephants, lions, giraffes, rhinos, and hippos. The zoo staff makes great efforts to keep the animal’s lifestyles in captivity as realistic as possible. Animals are fed at varying times during the day to keep them from being accustomed to routine. They also house together species which share the same space in nature. This allows for a more enriched life for the animals, but it also permits the visitors to observe all kinds of interaction between the different groups. All these animals reside on the 12 hectare parkland in the heart of Basel.


The Basel Zoo is a great place to visit and simple to find due to its practical city-center location. Open 365 days a year from 8 in the morning until 6 at night, it is very convenient to check out at any time. The Basel Zoo includes outdoor displays, indoor habitats, and a large aquarium. While Basel Zoo is approximately one third the size of the San Diego Zoo, a vast assortment of animals are available to see. One could easily spend three or four hours walking around.


Rhino, Basel Zoo


Rhino, Basel Zoo


In the aquarium you are given the opportunity to observe rare marine life. You may even see creatures you’ve never heard of, or have only ever seen on the discovery channel. Almost 400 different species live in the 70 tanks. Guests marvel at the starfish, shrimp, jellyfish, leopard sharks, and colorful coral. After admiring them all, you will have covered 380 meters in distance, walked past a quarter of a million liters of water, and have completed a world tour of aquatic life.


Children have the unique occasion to have direct contact with animals in the zoo in spacious enclosures. The purpose of this experience is to gain trust between the animals and children and to help spark an interest in the natural world. Some of the animals that children are able to interact with include Swiss goats, cattle from Sri Lanka, African pygmy goats, Gottingen miniature pigs, ponies from Wales and the Shetland Isles, miniature donkeys, and llamas from South America. Parents shouldn’t miss out on the chance to provide this one of a kind educational opportunity to their children.


Buffalo, Basel Zoo


Another highlight of the Basel Zoo worth seeing is the morning penguin parade. During colder months at 11a.m. visitors can meet the excited penguins at the zoo entrance and watch as they waddle down the paths looking around with curiosity at their strange surroundings. If you come during the afternoon be sure to stop and watch the seal show. The seals are more than enthusiastic as they jump, dive, and perform tricks for the screaming crowd.


An all-time favorite feature of guests at Basel Zoo is the Elephant Bath. Each week the elephants take turns crowding into an enormous structure to get their bath. People gather around to watch as the massive creatures crash down the stairs into the basin filled with water. It is an incredible sight to see as they submerge themselves into the water, spraying and splashing every which way as the crowd shouts with joy and surprise. Visitors may check for bathing times each day at the entrance of the zoo.


Lions, Basel Zoo


Great endeavors have been made to create the most natural habitats for the animals at Basel Zoo. During this time, expansion work is being done to create a brand new infrastructure for the primates. The outdoor monkey exhibit is expected to be complete by this summer. The new infrastructure will more than double the ape’s available space and create exciting new displays for Basel Zoo visitors. 


If you get hungry during your visit, Basel Zoo offers many catering options for its guests. Snacks are available in the cafeteria or you may choose from a variety of restaurant menu options, or even the self-service buffet. You are also permitted to bring in your own food and picnic while observing the animals if you prefer. Benches and tables are located throughout the zoo for your convenience.


Flamingos, Basel Zoo


Flamingos, Basel Zoo



Basel city is easily navigated with its wonderful public transportation. The trams, buses, and trains can take you anywhere you want to go. The Basel Zoo is situated right in the middle of the city, with a 10 to 15 minute walk from the Basel Train Station. Clearly labeled signs make it easy to find on both foot and tram. Getting lost is never a problem as Swiss people are very familiar with many languages.

Admission price
Adults    CHF 18.-
Young people    CHF 12.-
Children 6-16     CHF 7.-
Seniors 62+    CHF 16.-
Families    CHF 39.-

Basel Zoo is well worth its rather high prices. If you are a Swiss resident, a year or family pass is advisable as you will most likely wish to come back several times. Definitely wear comfortable shoes, and bring your camera, as there are countless opportunities to photograph the rare and beautiful animals. For a geographically small zoo, Basel Zoo offers a very impressive collection.




Kyla Partridge is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program


All photos courtesy and copyright Kyla Partridge


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