Basel Zoo in Switzerland

Basel Zoo
The Basel elephant house and enclosure 1998. Photo: Dr. Harald Schwammer, Zoo Vienna.
The Basel elephant house and enclosure 1998. Photo: Dr. Harald Schwammer, Zoo Vienna.


First elephant arrived1886
Address Binningerstrasse 40
Zip-code CH-4011
Place Basel
Country Switzerland
Website Website

Directors 1913-1944: Adolf Wendnagel (director)
1944-1953: Heini Hediger (director)
1953: Ernst Lang (director)

Key People 1920-1922: Urs Eggenschwyler (zoo designer)


Elephant department

Head keepers
of elephants
2002-: Thomas Ruby
(elephant head-keeper)
1952-1990: Werner Behrens
(elephant head-keeper)
1990-2002: Philippe Bilger
(elephant head-keeper)

Elephant keepers -: Max Guiliani
-1923: Jean Haetelfinger
1965-1988: Peter Wenger
Record history
History of updates2023-08-31

Latest document update2023-08-31 17:18:15
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Relevant literature
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Basel Zoo, located at Binningerstrasse 40, in Basel, Switzerland , was founded in 1874 and the first elephant arrived in 1886.

Living elephants

At the Basel Zoo lives 3 elephants with records in this database: (detail list)
  1. Heri born 1976
  2. Maya born 1995
  3. Rosy born 1995

Comments / picturesThe elephants are , and a new one is on planning stage.

Until a few years ago the elephants were worked in free contact, gave public rides and participated in training shows, and afternoon shower and bathing of the elephants in the pool inside the stable could be enjoyed by the public. The house was rather old, from the thirthies. Since then a new house was built, and the elephants transferred to Protected Contact.

Basel Zoo in Switzerland SwitzerlandPost card from period about 1905-1910

Basel Zoo in Switzerland Switzerland

African elephants, with trainer Werner Behrens (front), assisted by Othmar Stemmler.

Basel Zoo in Switzerland Switzerland

1952: During director Dr. Ernst Lang hippos and rhinos were removed from the pacyderm house, and five young elephant calves were imported 1952 by the zoo itself, from southern Tanganyika. 7 elephants were cought in 21. September 1952, under the command of the animal capturer Pelegrini, 5 with destiny for Switzerland; females Ruaha and Indunda, the three males Omari, Katoto and Tembo, (the last bull Tembo reserved for Circus Knie). The elephants were brought to Mombasa, and shipped with "Rjinkerk" through the Suez, to Genua, and arrived with train in Basel SBB on 1. November 1952.

Basel Zoo in Switzerland Switzerland

1953: A new elephant house was ready in 1953. Photo Elsbeth Siegrist-Knoell.

1966: The first elephant was born here 1966, an african, which was the third african elephant ever being born in a zoo!

The bull Kenny, (arrived Basel 1984 from Hannover Zoo, Germany, where he arrived 1970 from Mary Chipperfield, England) died in June 1998 because of severe problems in his hind leg. He was kept off-hand. With the cow Mahari he Sired the bull Pambo, born 1992.04.09, now located in Cabarceno Zoo.

Basel Zoo in Switzerland SwitzerlandThree of Basel Zoo elephant headkeepers; From left Werner Behrens, Peter Wenger, and right with carrots Thomas Ruby.

References for records about Basel Zoo

Recommended Citation

Koehl, Dan (2024). Basel Zoo, Elephant Encyclopedia. Available online at (archived at the Wayback machine)

Sources used for this article is among others:

Basel Zoo on

Basel Zoo is mentioned on Elephant News:

DateLinks which opens in new window
2013-10-31Goodbye, yoga! bull elephant travels to sweden - Elephant News
2013-01-13Elephant tusk found in frenchman’s bag on swiss train - Elephant News
World�s oldest captive elephant dies - Elephant News
2009-10-27Elephant bull pambo has been moved from venna zoo to spanish safaripark parque de la naturaleza de cabarceno - Elephant News
2008-06-16How islam came to germany - Elephant News
Kenya transit point for animal and ivory trade - Elephant News

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