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Zoo Basel Impressions of Zolli Basle - from 1984

Discussion in 'Switzerland' started by Hix, 18 Apr 2019.

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  1. Hix

    Hix Wildlife Enthusiast and Lover of Islands Premium Member

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    In early 1984 I travelled to Europe to see some of the more well-known zoos in that part of the world. Almost a year later I intended to give a slide presentation to zookeepers at the Australasian Society of Zoo Keepers annual conference and wrote a commentary on each of the zoos. This is the review of one of those zoos.

    At many of the zoos I visited I took notes of the exhibits and the different species I saw – due to Australian laws the zoos in Australia are somewhat limited in the species available for display. The text for each zoo’s review was written several months afterwards and was based upon my notes and from what I could remember. As I said, it was to be delivered to zoo keepers in Australia so there are occasional references or comparisons to Taronga Zoo and its exhibits. In the early 1980’s many zoos around the world were ‘modernising’ their exhibits to look more natural and be more beneficial to the occupants, as opposed to keeping the public happy at the animals expense. Behavioural enrichment was a new concept, too, so there are sometimes frequent references to enclosure design/construction and furnishings.

    I have copied the text verbatim, and resisted the temptation to correct my grammar, to re-word or rephrase sentences and paragraphs. I was 21 at the time and my writing skills were underdeveloped (by my current standards). However, if for the sake of clarity I feel the need to add words or additional information, I have done so in [brackets]. The scientific names are recorded from labels on exhibits at the time, and I have not updated them to current usage for posterity’s sake. Measurements are all estimates.

    I have created a thread covering all the zoos on my trip, found here A Look at Some Well-known European Zoos - in 1984 and I’ll be posting the individual reviews in the appropriate forums.

    Finally, the opinions expressed here are mine and often reflect the views of the day. Some reviews are not complimentary, but I’m hoping that in the intervening 35 years these zoos have improved.

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    Zolli Basle [Basle Zoo] has a good reputation, but I knew from my experience with Antwerp Zoo that a good reputation does not necessarily mean a good zoo. I was pleased to find Basle well-deserving its reputation – in fact, I think Basle was one of the best zoos overall that I visited.

    The first building I entered was labelled on the map as ‘Vivarium’. The Vivarium I soon found out housed the Aquarium and Reptile House. The first tank I saw when I entered was the biggest tank I had ever seen in an aquarium. It was gigantic. Something else I noticed was that the tanks were heavily planted with water plants, more so than most aquariums. The Reptile House was, again, one of the best I had seen anywhere. All the glass panes were spotlessly clean and the animals were all healthy. The cages were filled with plants making them very naturalistic. The Crocodilian exhibit even had some Zebra Finches living in trees at the back.

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    The Ape House at Basle was also the Monkey House. The roof was made of a translucent substance and so they had light falling through. In the summer, this roof slid back into itself so the animals are exposed to the outside air and direct sunlight. The actual cages in the primate house were excellent and makes this another one of the best primate complexes I saw.

    The Vogelhaus (Bird House) was an old building with cages around the periphery and a heavily planted area in the middle. [Just to clarify, this is inside the building which was a large open hall-like room, there were no external cages]. There were many free flying birds in here, including Guinea Touraco, Cordon Bleu, Silvereye, Shama and two species of Hummingbird.

    The Owls were in a stonework building with large archways to view through. The birds were kept in by horizontal strands or wire only. [Actually, they were vertical. This was my first experience seeing a piano wire exhibit.]

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    The Pygmy Hippos and Indian Rhinos were inside for the Winter. The hippos already had one baby and the rhinos were expecting one any day.

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    Another baby that had been born that I particularly wanted to see, and eventually did, was a baby Bongo. Basle is one of the few zoos that exhibit Bongos, and one of the couple that have bred them successfully.

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    Vogelhaus

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    Free-flying Birds
    Guinea Tauraco (Tauraco persa corythaix)
    White-eye (Zosterops sp.)
    Red-whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocusus)
    Diamond Dove (Geopelia cuneata)
    Fairy Bluebird (Irena puella)
    Cordon Bleu (Uraeginthus angolensis)
    Yellow-naped Flowerpecker (Dicaeum anthonyi)
    Cape Dove (Streptopelia capicola)
    Red-legged Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes cyaneus)
    Silver-eared Mesia (Leiothrix argentauris)
    Shama (Copsychus malabaricus)
    Peking Nightingale (Leiothrix lutea)
    Bobwhite Quail (Colinus virginianus)
    Violet-bellied Hummingbird (Damophila julie)
    Sparkling Violet-ear (Colibri coruscans)


    Caged Birds
    Cages are all large enough (Kookaburra and Falconet’s could be bigger). All have soil floors, wood nestboxes, lots of living plants, pools.

    Crimson-rumped Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus haematopygus) x 2
    Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco) x 2
    Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura Victoria) x 2
    Red-billed Hornbill (Lophocerus erythrorhynchus) x 2
    Kookaburra (Dacelo gigas) x 2
    Blue-crowned Motmot (Momotus momota) x 2
    White-headed Woodpecker (Leuconerpes candidus) x 2
    Indian Hill Myna (Gracula religiosa) x 1
    Sparkling Violet-ear (Colibri coruscans) x 2
    King Quail (Excalfactoria chinensis) x 5
    Red-legged Falconet (Microheirax caerulescans) x 2
    Scops Owl (Otus sp.)
    The Victoria Crowned Pigeon and the Red-billed Hornbill were all in the same exhibit and the Quail and Violet-ears were also together. The Indian Hill Mynah could whistle Colonel Bogey.


    Apenhaus
    The Ape House also houses Basle’s monkey collection. An interesting feature of the Ape House is that the roof of the building consists of a series of plastic or Perspex domes that, in summer, slide into themselves so that the animals are exposed to the elements (wind, fresh air, natural sunlight etc.).

    All the exhibits were built the same: Glass fronts; wire roof, sides and back; concrete floor. They contain multi-branched ‘trees’ [i.e. artificial trees] and ropes for swinging and climbing. There were also some concrete and wooden shelves.

    Common Woolly Monkey (Lagothrix lagothricha) x 9
    Nine animals including three juveniles born in 1981. Two adults look pregnant, possibly three. Keeper says 12 or 13 animals, not pregnant just fat. The whole exhibit is two large cages interconnected and is quite large enough for them. As well as the items already mentioned, this cage had a basket of woodwool hanging from a rope.

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    Ringtailed Lemur (Lemur catta) x 4
    One fair-sized cage. There is a big doorway in one concrete wall to interconnect it with the next cage, but has glass in it now.

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    Ruffed Lemur (Varecia variegata) x 2
    Same as the Ringtails but with a nestbox.

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    Spider Monkey (Ateles sp.) x 5
    Quite a large cage. One baby and one female looks pregnant. I think the species is perhaps A. geoffroyi.

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    Black-and-Red Tamarin (Saguinas nigricollis) x 2
    Vertical cage, size OK. Concrete cage with glass roof and glass panel in front. One real multi-branched tree and one fir tree in a bucket of water. One nest box.

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    De Brazza Guenon (Cercopithecus neglectus) x 2
    Very large cage with glass front.

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    Owl-faced Monkey (Cercopithecus hamlyni) x 1
    Quite large enclosure.

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    Spider Monkey (Ateles sp.) x 5
    Size is OK. There is also one baby. I think they are the Black Spider Monkey (A.paniscus).

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    Adolfi-friederic Colobus (Colobus polykomus adolfi-friederici) x 2
    White fur on shoulders, rest black. Size of the cage was reasonable.

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    Douc Langur (Pygathrix nemaeus) x 7
    One juvenile and one baby. Cage size definitely large enough. Two interconnecting cages one with a multi-branched ‘tree’, the other with two ‘trees’.

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    Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri sp.) x 16
    Although his cage is the same size as the others, for this small primate it is enormous and 16 monkeys is not overcrowded. Apart from one multi-branched ‘tree’, ropes and a rope ladder, keepers ere placing in the exhibit 11 real branches from a tree with many smaller branches and twigs on them.

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    Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) x 7
    Cage #1: Two adults, not fully grown.
    Cage #2: Two adults and one juvenile.
    Cage #3: Two juveniles
    All cages had glass fronts, wire roofs and backs, concrete floors, concrete shelves, ropes and ‘trees’.

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    Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) x 7
    Cage #1: Two adults
    Cage #2: Interconnecting with Cgae #1
    Cage #3: Four adults and one baby born 2/2/83. One female looks pregnant. This cage was slightly bigger than all the other cages.
    Each cage also has ‘trees’, ropes, plastic bins, tyres on the ground and hanging tyres.

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    Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) x 10
    Four cages, #1 & #2 interconnecting and #3 & #4 also interconnecting. Each contains ‘trees’, ropes, tyres, plastic bins and straw.

    Cages #1 & #2: Three adults and one baby.
    Cages #3 & #4: Two adults, one juvenile and three babies, the latest born on 3/9/83.


    Vivarium
    Aquarium Highlights


    Lantern Fish (Photoblepharon palpebratus) x 12 (approx..)
    Pearly Nautilus (Nautilus pompilius) x 1
    Cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) x 3
    Lookdown (Selene vomer) x 5
    Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) x 1
    Arawana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum) x 5 (2 adults and 3 young)
    The Lanternfish were in a walled in tank. You pressed a little button and a viewing hole opens up under the pressure you apply. Inside it was very dark and all I could see was several little lights moving around.


    Sphenicarium
    All rocky with a large pool approx. 20 feet long, 6 to 7 feet wide and 10 to 15 feet deep. No penguins in it as yet. Walkway takes you upwards along the length of it so that at it’s short side you can see up and down the pool from below ground level and from the long side you can see above ground.

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    Herpetarium
    Bearded Dragon (Amphibolurus barbatus) x 12
    Desert-style cage with cactus, rocks, tree roots.

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    Snake-necked Turtle (Chelodina longicollis)
    Terecay (Podocnemis unifilis)
    Red-eared Slider (Pseudemys scripta elegans)
    Black Mud Turtle (Pelusios niger)
    Asian Leaf Turtle (Cyclemys dentata)
    About 12 turtles all together in one enclosure with a deep pool.

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    Chinese Water Dragon (Physignathus concinna) x 2
    Well vegetated rainforest exhibit.

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    Egg-eating Snake (Dasypeltis scabra) x 2
    Wooden tank with glass front.

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    Boa Constrictor (Constrictor constrictor) x 1
    Yellow Anaconda (Eunectes notaeus) x 2
    Large cage with big, deep pool. Rock substrate and large artificial tree.

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    Reticulated Python (Python reticulatus) x 2 or 3
    Snakes in a ball, 2 or 3 adults. Large cage with large pool and artificial tree.

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    Red Tegu (Tupinambis rufescens) x 2
    Large tank, soil floor, well vegetated.

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    Archerfish (Toxotes jaculatus) x 9
    Mangrove swamp tank.

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    Reticulated Python (Python reticulatus) x 3
    All juveniles, large tank.

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    Green Oxybelis (Oxybelis sp.) x 2
    Green vine snake from South America. Four species in the genus Oxybelis, I think this is O.fulgidus. Lots of vegetation and a big pool.

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    Garden Boa (Corallus enhydris)
    Cook’s Garden Boa (Coralllus enhydris cooki)
    Could see 2 or 3 snakes in a ball in a tree fork. Again, heavily planted out and with a pool.

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    Radiated Tortoise (Testudo radiata) x 4
    Leopard Tortoise (Testudo pardalis) x 3
    Alligator Snapping Tortoise (Macroclemys temminckii) x 3
    Enormous cage with a large pool and a sand floor. Lots of plants.

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    Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis) x 2
    Tree Frog unlabelled x 3
    Gecko unlabelled x 1
    Rock tank with lots of plants and a moss floor. One anole putting out his throat sac. The gecko is possibly a Phelsuma – light green in colour with a red stripe and red spots down its back.

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    Californian Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis zonata) x 1

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    Rainbow Boa (Epicrates cenchria)
    Could not see any animals in this well vegetated tank.

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    Indian Monitor (Varanus bengalensis) x 2
    Enormous cage with glass front, partly vegetated. Large pool. Also contains one or two species of unlabelled passerine.

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    Cane Toad (Bufo marinus)
    Cuban Toad (Bufo peltacephalus)
    Smoky Jungle Frog (Leptodactylus pentadactylus)

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    Royal Python (Python regius) x 2

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    Spotted Tree Monitor (Varanus timorensis) x 1

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    Cuban Boa (Epicrates angulifer) x 1

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    Cunningham’s Skink (Egernia cunninghami) x 2
    Helmeted Iguana (Corytophanes cristatus) x 1
    Tokay Gecko (Gecko gecko) x 1
    Anole (Anolis sp.) x 1
    The gecko was about seven inches long.

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    Green Basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons) x 1
    Thickly planted cage with reasonably sized pool. Can only see one specimen, a male.

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    Blue Poison Arrow Frog (Dendrobates tinctorius)
    Toad (Atelepes flaviscens)
    Poison Arrow Frog (Phyllobates lugubris)
    Rock tank with little bottles in it. The bottles contain moist paper with small flies on it. Saw one frog only – Phyllobates. A graphic beside exhibit had illustrations of Atelepes’ hands and feet: they are weirdly-shaped.

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    Chinese Water Dragon (Physignathus concinnus) x 2
    Two youngsters, about six months old.

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    False Gavial (Tomistoma schlegelii) x 4
    This exhibit is quite large – a big rock pool with a rock ‘beach’ for basking and a larger rock island for basking. Heavy, thick foliage everywhere (Monstera, Ficus etc) in which a colony of Zebra Finch live. Ample light through translucent panes in the roof. The largest reptile in this exhibit is about eight feet long.

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    Last edited: 18 Apr 2019
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