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Basel voters pour cold water over plans for zoo aquarium

Visualisation of the planned giant aquarium
The planned large-scale aquarium remains a fantasy for the time being. Zoo Basel

Voters in Basel have rejected a controversial project to build a giant aquarium complex for the local zoo – the largest attraction of its kind in land-locked Switzerland.

Nearly 55% of voters came out against an amendment to the cantonal building regulations, according to a statement by the Basel City’s chancelleryExternal link on Sunday.

Environmentalists and animal rights groups argued such an ‘Oceanium’ was not sustainable. They challenged a decision last October by the parliament of canton Basel City to a referendum.

However, Zoo Basel said the project would contribute to nature conservation and environmental education.

It had hoped the planned aquarium would attract some 700,000 additional visitors a year. The new buildings were to house several thousand animals from all climates in about 40 aquariums, including an eight-metre-high single aquarium. This would have been home to sharks, rays, penguins, corals and deep-sea dwellers, living in tidal zones.

Plans for the complex were launched ten years ago and were part of a major expansion of the zoo. The costs of CHF100 million ($100 million) for the large-scale aquarium were to be covered from private donations.

The Basel Zoological GardenExternal link is Switzerland’s oldest and largest zoo by number of animals and attracted about 930,000 visitors last year. It is a major tourist attraction and one of two major zoos in Switzerland.


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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR