What's new at Basel Zoo

A generous donation from the Association of Friends is allowing the bison enclosure to be renovated. The first stage in the construction process is already complete and the second will begin this summer.

Animal keeping at Basel Zoo is constantly changing. As well as carrying out more noticeable work on large-scale projects, the zoo is also regularly making changes and improvements to existing animal enclosures. The zoo stopped keeping Scottish highland cattle in 2013, giving the bison herd a second outdoor enclosure. Thanks to the Association of Friends' generous financial support of CHF 170 000 further improvements can now be made.

The bison have recently been given a shelter. Bison come from North America, and, although they are very hardy and robust, shelters are very welcome: in the winter months they can lie on the comfort and warmth of a straw mat, and on hot summer days on the pleasantly cool ground. Building the shelters enabled the old feeding troughs to be replaced – the previous ones were fit for purpose but did not provide all animals with clean food all year round, which the new ones are able to do.

The bison is the largest land mammal in North America. Its habitat is the open grassland of the North American prairie. Female bison form large groups. The mature and visually-imposing males only live with the females during the mating season. Before the first settlers arrived in North America the bison population still numbered over 30 million animals, but excessive hunting reduced these numbers so much that they now need conservation measures to survive. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates the current population to be 11,000-13,200 adult animals. Bison are an endangered species. Basel Zoo is currently home to one male and five females.