Login problems? click here
Forgot password? click here
Create new account click here

Real sharks to be seen on the Zürichberg

Anyone going to the new CHF 1.5 million aquarium at Zurich Zoo will be greeted in reception by the sound of the shocks emanating from an electric eel. Actually visitors were able to hear these before, but this eel is the only inhabitant of old aquaria to move to this new one, all the other fish having been given or sold to other zoos or private collections, as the curator of the zoo, Robert Zingg, explained.

For 35 weeks while the building of the new aquarium was under way, this electric eel had to make do with temporary premises. What is remarkable is that workmen managed to remove some 150 cubic metres of concrete from the old aquarium without disturbing the everyday running of the zoo.

In the former exhibition area there were 22 aquaria, though now there are just eight, albeit much larger. Whereas before 50,000 litres of water were needed, now almost 110,000 litres are. In one area it is even possible to simulate tidal forces and a thunderstorm.
The huge glass windows of the aquaria, the largest one weighs 1.5 tonnes, reach down almost as far as the floor, which means even small children can enjoy a good view without having to be picked up all the time. The walls are covered in 15,000 anthracite-coloured tiles no less, giving the area the feel of a plush spa area.
Prior to the nine-month building period, planning for this huge project had gone on for two years, with much thought having gone into displays showing, for example, how water fleas and plankton form the basic food of so many fish and other marine life.
A great attraction is surely to be an aquarium containing sharks, for the first time in 35 years. They are only small ones, but real sharks nevertheless. Other types of fish on show include moraines, rays and splendid fire fish. The red piranhas are expected to be a great attraction, as before, though as zoo director, Alex Rübel, explained, at present one could go bathing with them, though this would soon change. Penguins, whose enclosure has also been upgraded, are also on show at the new aquarium. Coral reefs can also be seen, though naturally, these take time to grow. This may give the impression the displays are not quite ready, but as Rübel said at the press conference on the occasion of the opening, nature takes its time, and it was felt better not to overcrowd the aquaria.
These days, zoos are not there just to show off their inhabitants but to teach as well, hence there is much information in relation to the marine environment, such as the problem of over-fishing and pollution of the seas.
Not that the zoo will be sitting back on its laurels now this latest project has been completed. It is hoped to transform the African House into an Australian area by 2018 and open a new African savanna area, complete with giraffes and white rhinos, by 2020.
Zurich Zoo is at number 221 Zurichbergstasse. Further information in English can be found on www.zoo.ch/en. 

Share |