Best Zoos & Aquariums In Switzerland (Fun Animal Adventure)

best zoos aquariums

Switzerland is a country that takes great care of the environment and ranks high on the list when it comes to matters of sustainability. The Alpine country doesn’t stop at clean air, water, and conservation of natural resources. The Swiss are known for caring about the quality of life for every living being and even have stricter rules for pet ownership than many other countries.

In the last 20 years, Swiss zoos and aquariums have used research from modern zoo biologists and animal welfare critics to make sure their zoos are much more than places for displaying animals. You will recognize their efforts when visiting the best zoos and aquariums in Switzerland.

Zürich Zoo

Zürich Zoo
Zürich Zoo – Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Switzerland’s largest city is home to one of the country’s most beautiful animal parks. It was founded in 1929 and became Switzerland’s third-oldest zoo. By the middle of the century, Zurich Zoo was one of the first zoological gardens to be run scientifically.

Located in Zurich’s Fluntern Quarter, about 4,000 animals representing over 340 species of animals live here in near-natural habitats. Endangered species and other animals have plenty of room to live free and breed. Animals at the zoo include Pantanal, lemurs, zebras, giraffes, elephants, guinea pigs, antelopes, emus, pygmy goats, kangaroos, koalas, ostriches, elk, and more.

The Masoala tropical rainforest is a highlight at the zoo. The re-creation of the Masoala Penisula in Madagascar features 50 vertebrates and 500 species of plants.

Zoo Basel

Zoo Basel
Grant’s Zebras in Zoo Basel – Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Zoo Basel is located on 32 sprawling acres in the city of Basel. Along with Zurich Zoo, it’s considered one of the best in the country. Around 7,554 animals representing 543 species live and thrive on the generous grounds. This includes 25 aviary species and 17 ungulates (hooved animals.) The species include both endangered and exotic animals. Expect to see lions, rhinos, penguins, giraffes, zebras, and more.

The elephant enclosure is one of Zoo Basel’s most impressive exhibits. The savannah-style enclosure gives the huge animals 5,000 square meters of space to roam. The enclosure is also inhabited by a number of fishes, harvester ants, and brown rats.

Visitors at the zoo enjoy strolling outdoors in the fresh alpine air and park-like landscape. In the winter months, they can experience close encounters with a variety of animals in animal houses. Therefore, the zoo can be visited at any time of the year.

Walter Zoo

Walter Zoo
Walter Zoo – Image courtesy of Roland Mattle

Located in Gossau, Switzerland less than an hour from Zurich, Walter Zoo is the country’s largest private zoo and an ideal place for families to spend the day. Over 1,000 animals of 130 species live at the zoo including lions, camels, rare birds, reptiles, horses, and tigers. It has the country’s largest chimpanzee enclosure where their antics amuse and amaze everyone.

Some special interest animals to be on the lookout for are the pretty pink flamingos, a 600-pound grizzly bear, a Barbary lion, and Siberian tigers. The zoo’s star attraction is the Arctic enclosure. It’s surrounded by a 42-foot-high barrier and home to a 1,000-pound polar bear named Siku. The habitat replicates the Arctic landscape with a dive pool, waterfall, and boulders to climb.

Bear Pit

Bear Pit
Bear Pit

Bears have been partial to the area around Bern for centuries, and the capital city and UNESCO Listed Heritage site grew to identify them. The bear became a sort of mascot for the city appearing on flags, fountains, buildings, and on the old clock tower.

Today’s one-of-a-kind bear park called Bear Park began in 1857 as a pit where bears were kept in the town. Since 2009, the bears have been kept in a spacious and modern park that covers 6,000 square meters, and a tunnel for the bears to access the park. The park has even been listed as a federal cultural asset of national significance.

The Bear Pit is located in a stunning area and is easily paired with a visit to the Old Town of Bern. The park is on the banks of the Aare River not far from the former bear pit. Visitors can also visit the old bear bit. Guided tours are available.

Aquatis Aquarium-Vivarium

Aquatis Aquarium-Vivarium
Aquatis Aquarium-Vivarium – Image courtesy of Wikimedia

One of the most visited attractions in Lausanne, Aquatis Aquarium-Vivarium is the biggest aquarium in Switzerland. With its prime location on the shores of Lake Geneva, the aquarium features freshwater ecosystems around the world including Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, and South America.

The aquarium houses 10,000 freshwater fish and several dozen species of land and sea animals. Visitors can learn about the ecosystems and their animals through interactive displays, laboratory workshops, and discovery activities. The importance of freshwater conservation is emphasized. A special interactive display allows children to go on a treasure hunt.

The first floor of the aquarium is dedicated to Europe with an emphasis on the Rhone from its mouth in Valais to the Mediterranean Sea. A second flow highlights the lakes and rivers in Asia, Africa, and the tropics of the Amazon.

The aquarium’s total size is 35,000 square meters featuring 46 aquariums, vivariums, and terrariums.

Wildpark Brienz

Wildpark Brienz is an animal park featuring regional animal species from the Bernese Alps in a beautiful forested setting near the village of Brienz. It was founded in 1896 so that woodcarving students would have live models. You can feed animals such as chamois, red deer, and marmots using a vending that dispenses treats. You’ll also spot birds from several species including snow owls, screech owls, pheasants, and ducks.

Visitors of all ages enjoy seeing the animals up close in their habitats at this unique animal park. There is no charge to visit, just buy treats for CHF 1 from the vending machine. Treats from home are not allowed.

Servion Zoo

Servion Zoo
Male bear in Servion Zoo – Image courtesy of Tambako The Jaguar

Popular for its exotic animals, Servion Zoo is a short drive away from Lausanne. Hundreds of families visit the zoo every day to see the lions, Siberian tigers, wolves, pumas, and bears. There are no elephants or giraffes, but you’ll see monkeys, porcupines, bison, Tibetan goats, Corsican mouflons, antelopes, and porcupines.

The Tropiquarium is a highlight at the zoo. It’s divided into three main areas: an aviary, a penguin pool, and a restaurant. The Tropiquarium specializes in tropical flora, reptiles, and endangered species. Siamese crocodiles, African penguins, and giant tortoises reside comfortably in their natural habitats. This gives Servion Zoo a place in the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The zoo also has a restaurant and children’s play area.

Wildnispark Zürich Langenberg

Wildnispark Zürich Langenberg
Lynx in Wildnispark – Image courtesy of kuhnmi

Wildnispark is scientifically managed and a member of the Swiss Association of Scientific Zoos (Zooschweiz). The animals aren’t encaged and live in a near-natural and spacious habitat on 80 hectares. Members of the association are dedicated to the well-being of the animals and maintain high standards.

The animals aren’t always visible, but visitors can explore the animal world for memorable encounters with animals such as deer, wolves, elk, lynxes, marmots, wild boars, and Przewalski horses. In all, the animal park keeps 19 native and formerly native animals.

A self-service restaurant and children’s playground are located on the premises.

Goldau Nature Park and Zoo

The Goldau Nature Park and Zoo is located on the site where the dramatic landslide of 1806 took place. Although catastrophic for humans, the event helped to create an impressive landscape for non-domesticated animals.

The park is home to around 100 species of animals on 42 hectares. Several species of deer and moufflon sheep roam free in a large area, and wild cats, lynxes, wild boar, and wolves are kept in spacious enclosures.

The nature park’s Conservation Breeding Program is dedicated to allowing rare animals such as the European bison, Syrian brown bear, bearded vulture, and hermit ibis to breed and multiply. Visitors can learn all about the animals and their habitats through exhibitions, guided tours, and workshops.

Zoo Bern

Zoo Bern
Zoo Bern – Image courtesy of Marcel Hauri

Open since 1937, Zoo Bern is located on the banks of the Aare River near the historic center. It’s a large, fascinating zoo that welcomes visitors 365 days a year to its exotic animal park, bear park, aviary, and children’s zoo. The zoo is home to around 3,000 animals representing 200 species. The 15-hectare zoo also features a stunning array of plants and flowers.

The zoo’s extensive collection of European-Nordic creatures is of special interest. Visitors can learn about the zoo and its animals through tours and workshops. Pony rides for children are offered on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Zoo Bern is working hard to increase nature and species conversation in the future. Special care is taken for the bears in the Bärengraben.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many zoos are in Switzerland?

Switzerland has 15 zoos and animal parks located around the country.

What is the biggest zoo in Switzerland?

Zoo Basel is the largest zoo in Switzerland by the number of animals. Around 1.8 million people visit the zoo each year. 

Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

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