Zoo Review: Zoo Zurich

Z20171021_160635 (Large)oo Zurich is one of the best zoos in Europe, if not the world.

You may recognize the Zoo from its architectural ode to elephants from local modernists, Markus Schietsch Architecture. But the Zoo is much more than that.

Opened in 1929 and the home of famous zoo scientist and animal behaviorist, Heini Hediger, the Zoo surprisingly retains very little of its original history. The oldest features look to be no older than from the mid-20th Century.  

Although many of these mid-century exhibits are now clearly out-of-date, the Zoo benefits from a gorgeous, terrain-filled site with lots of natural vegetation, and the zoo team has creatively, if not superficially, renovated the oldest exhibits, even while those exhibits are awaiting their fates at the hands of bulldozers.

Since the mid-1990s, focus for the Zoo has been on innovation, expansion, storytelling, and improved husbandry & welfare, ultimately creating a clear division between the new exhibits and the older section.

The new section includes an absolutely massive indoor rainforest exhibit (featuring more botanicals than fauna–proving once again, the European audience is far more patient than Americans), the previously mentioned elephant complex merging post-modernism with Asian thematic immersion (to a questionable level of success), a children’s zoo, and an under-construction African savanna.

The older section of the zoo has been renovated into a passable South American exhibit, with moments of brilliance (see the parrot interpretive), and a visually interesting Mongolian steppe.

They recently opened a very passable renovation of an older exhibit building and outlying exhibits focused on Australia featuring a wallaby, kangaroo and emu walk-through. Multiple koala exhibits with indoor and outdoor enclosures are also included.

A few other random exhibits are mixed into the zoo for good measure, but overall, this zoo deserves your time and respect–and to keep an eye on where they are headed in the future.

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