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Discussion in 'Switzerland' started by Arizona Docent, 14 Mar 2015.

  1. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    Review based on visit February 27, 2015

    History

    Founded in 1869, Langenberg Wildlife Park is the oldest zoo in Switzerland. It sits on a hillside above the Sihl River, not far south of Zurich. Immediately south of this is a small village and beyond that a large tract of native forest known as Sihlwald. In 2009 the Swiss government combined the two areas into one large nature park known as Wildnispark Zurich. This was accompanied by the creation of a museum and visitor center at the entrance to the Sihlwald tract, which also includes two live animal exhibits: European beaver and European otter. However, the two tracts are still physically separate and you would need to drive or take the train from one to the other. Since the Sihlwald visitor center was closed for the winter, I did not go there and spent my time exclusively in Langenberg.

    Transportation and Entrance

    Of course if you have a car you can drive to either park along a road that parallels the Sihl River. However, you can also take the S4 train (as I did) along the river to either park. Trains to Langenberg run every fifteen or twenty minutes, but many of these end at the village between Langenberg and Sihlwald. The train that continues on to Sihlwald only runs about once an hour.

    There is a public road that runs right through the middle of Langenberg, paralleling the river road and train tracks, but much higher up the hillside. People arriving by car would park here and enter near the restaurant (which was also closed for winter). People arriving by train (like me) enter Langenberg from a trail at the bottom of the hill. There are also some other small trail entrances accessed from the surrounding village. Visitors to Sihlwald will walk to the visitor center near the train station and I presume there is parking in the same spot.

    There is no need for a single, main entrance to Langenberg because the entire zoo is free! Anyone can walk in from any path, and as far as I can tell at any time of day or night. In fact, some of the hoofstock yards are located along the lower road and some along the middle road, so that people driving through the village or walking along the sidewalk will see animals.

    Layout and Seasons

    Langenberg consisits of two large hillside slopes. The lower half, between the two roads, is completely forested. This is where the carnivore exhibits are, as well as boar and marmot and some hoofstock. The upper half, above the middle road, is mostly open fields and contains hoofstock exclusively.

    However, the vast majority of hoofstock is off exhibit during winter. I presume they were locked up in a large two story barn I saw. The Przewalski horse, one group in the upper half and one group near the bottom road, were confined to small paddocks and locked out of their large fields. Same story for the European bison at the base of the upper park. Of the several deer species, only three were out during my visit – European elk (what we call moose in America) and two other deer I have yet to identify. Of course I am a carnivore fanatic, so it was worth it for me to photograph wildcat and wolves in snow (the lynx did not give me a good view). But overall, winter is a terrible time to visit simply because most animals cannot be seen. The exhibits themselves are massive and are made by simply fencing in large tracts of forest or field. A very unique feature is a walk-through roe deer exhibit and a walk-through boar exhibit. However, these were both empty during my winter visit. (The boars were visible in a small yard next to their barn).

    Species List

    The park contains mostly or exclusively mammals, mostly hoofstock or carnivores, that are or were native to Switzerland. There is a bit of license taken with Pzrewalski horses, which are stand-ins for the long extinct European forest horse. I cannot find a species list in English, but the species lineup is quite limited. Sixteen species total is a number I have seen but I think there may be a couple more than this if you count the two or three rodents in the mousehouse (which is a bizarre setup I will explain if prompted). Here are the few I know of:

    European wild boar
    European wolf
    European brown bear
    European wildcat
    European lynx
    European bison
    Przewalski horse
    Roe deer (did not see)
    European elk (moose in America)
    Alpine ibex (did not see)
    Various other deer (two seen but not yet identified)
    Rodents (did not see)
    Alpine marmot (did not see)

    The one glaring omission (given their theme) is Alpine chamois
     
  2. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Thanks for the review! Back in 2003 I spent a few weeks between both Italy and Switzerland, visiting two zoos in the process. Zurich Zoo and Langenberg Wildlife Park are establishments that I toured on the same day and I have fond memories of both. The Masoala Rainforest had just opened a few months before my visit, while Langenberg had many spacious enclosures set in a thick forest.
     
  3. savethelephant

    savethelephant Well-Known Member

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    Wouldn't a walk through wild boar exhibit be a little dangerous?:eek::confused:
     
  4. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    I thought the same thing and was very surprised when I saw it. However, as they were off exhibit for winter and I was on my way out of the park, I did not go inside. It appears the visitors have a short straight path and the boars have a massive area, so maybe they just stick to themselves?
     
  5. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    @AD, your two unidet deer species are fallow deer Dama dama and Central European red deer Cervus elaphus hippelaphus (see also photography threads).
     
  6. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    Consider this a prompting. :)
     
  7. zoomaniac

    zoomaniac Well-Known Member

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    @Arizona Docent: As a local I just can say: Great review (as your reviews in your book of the zoos in the Southwest by the way).

    There is only one correction needed: There is also a predator in the upper half, right above the stalls for the mooses: the Central European Red Fox. Experts call it one of the best (if not the best) exhibit worldwide for this species.

    And yes, the Alpine Chamois would be a perfect addition (as European Badgers, a walk-thru-aviary and 2 or 3 Owl species).
     
  8. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for all the responses. My explanation for the mouse house is posted on the photo I placed of it in the gallery.