The Basel Zoo is one of the major zoos of Central Europe and, thanks to Switzerland’s long-standing policy of neutrality, the least affected by the world wars. It is routinely counted among the top zoos in both Europe and the world, and is one of the most visited tourist sites in Switzerland. Although there are exhibits from all over the world, the focus is on the fauna of Africa, and the zoo has some of the best varieties of African animals anywhere outside of that continent.
Basel opened its zoo in 1874, with regular expansions occurring up until World War I. It survived the disasters of the wars, but suffered its own catastrophy in 1937 when many of the resident animals died from foot-and-mouth disease. The zoo was restocked and largely fully functional again by the late 1940s. Over the last two decades, Basel has undergone a major transformation with additions and renovations of more modern facilities.
This zoo is home nearly seven thousand animals from over six hundred species. There are exhibits from all over the world as well as an aquarium. The focus is African animals, and a major African exhibit was opened in 1993. Among the most popular exhibits at the zoo is the massive new monkey house and rock, and the vastly expanded ape environment.
The Basel Zoo is located in the Zoological Garden on the southwest side of Basel, about a mile from the city center. It is open year round from 8:00am-5:30pm (later hours in Summer). The cost of admission is CHF18.00. Web: www.zoobasel.ch (official website).