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Out & About in Switzerland: Below the surface of Goldau Zoo

A boy enjoys a look at life below the surface of the "Blue Pond" Keystone

With its newly built "underwater station", the Goldau Zoo in central Switzerland has opened a unique window on the world of water birds and their natural habitat.

This content was published on October 25, 2000 - 09:01

Visitors looking through large windows below the "Blue Pond" have the chance to observe cormorants diving for food or metre-long pike searching for prey.

The 15,000 square metre pond is one of the largest natural habitats for water birds found in any zoo. It was formed during a tremendous landslide in 1806 that completely altered the landscape around Goldau.

It remains nearly unchanged from that time and, together with islands and peninsulas, is the breeding ground for many birds including migratory species.

The water in the pond is rich with plankton and depending on the development stage of the algae, the range of vision from the underwater station ranges from two metres to 10.

The zoo, which calls itself a "Landscape and Animal Park", specialises in European species. Visitors are able to come into contact with wild but harmless animals including deer, goats and chamois. Predators are kept in enclosed compounds.

Goldau is a member of the "worldwide organisation of scientifically guided zoos" and has played an important role through its breeding programme in the resettlement of the Bearded Vulture in the Alps. It has built aviaries large enough to permit the free flight of young vultures.

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