What's new at Basel Zoo

At today’s meeting of the Great Council, the Ozeanium was approved with a clear majority of 69 votes to 13. The yes shows that the project enjoys broad support. Basel Zoo, which is seeking to raise awareness of ocean conservation with the Ozeanium, has taken a big step towards successfully implementing the project.

Zoo Director Olivier Pagan is delighted with the Great Council’s decision: ‘What began as a vision ten years ago has now taken a step closer to becoming reality thanks to a yes from the Great Council. It is fantastic to see that the Great Council recognises the huge opportunity represented by the Ozeanium, both for the zoo and for Basel.’

An opportunity for nature conservation and Basel

With the Ozeanium, the zoo is aiming to get visitors excited about animals and raise awareness of how to protect their habitats, all in line with a tradition and philosophy dating back decades. Basel Zoo is therefore also planning special areas for school classes and is working with renowned research institutions such as GEOMAR Kiel.

In addition, the Ozeanium is another highlight for Basel as a city of culture. As well as boosting Basel’s tourism and trade, it – like Basel Zoo – also expands the range of recreational, educational and cultural services available to Basel locals and enhances the ‘urban nowhere’ that is Heuwaage.

Entirely privately funded

Like all Basel Zoo projects, the Ozeanium is privately funded. Chairman of the Board of Directors Martin Lenz underlines: ‘The Ozeanium will be funded by private donations and the zoo’s own resources. Building and running the Ozeanium will not cost taxpayers a single cent.’

Fundraising is well on track, and the zoo was recently able to announce that it had received a pledge for another donation of five million Swiss francs. This means that the Ozeanium was already around 60% funded by the time the Great Council made its decision.

Lots of dedication and expertise

The zoo will now continue the planning process and work on the project’s implementation. ‘I would like to thank the entire team at the zoo. Over the past few years, they have poured their dedication and expertise into making progress on this project. Now we must continue the good work so that we can make the most of this huge opportunity for the zoo and for Basel as a whole’, said Martin Lenz.

However, the speed at which the Ozeanium becomes a reality depends on the subsequent political process. Some organisations have already announced that they will hold a referendum. Olivier Pagan views the potential voting campaign as an opportunity: ‘If public discussion means that we raise public awareness of topics such as environmental education and nature conservation early on, then this is something we welcome. In the spirit of our scientific approach we will inform the public about our project and win them over with the facts.’