Zürich Zoo camels at the city of Zürich’s most important ceremony
Zürich Zoo regularly lends two or three camels to the “Kämbel Zunft” (guild) for participation at the annual spring Sechseläuten festival in Zürich, which entails the yearly burning of the Böög (a large carton snowman) as a symbol of ousting winter. The city’s guilds form a procession, many in traditional dress going back to the 13th century. The Kämbel guild entailed the tradespeople during the middle ages: vegetable, fruit, salt and wine. How come a camel ended up being their heraldic animal? It’s an interesting story, partly based on the fact that in the late middle ages, angora-goats were called “Kämeltier” which resulted in a later vernacular mis-translation, but by then, the camel was already enshrined in the coat of arms. And based on all the misunderstanding you have it today that camels from Zürich Zoo are trained well in advance of the event, going on private little walks in the woods behind the zoo with their keepers and then also throughout the city!
Social and Ecological Engagement
Zürich Zoo reliably ranks within the top three out of 113 European zoos in the bi-annual U.K. Sheridan rating. It is well-known for its diversity of animals in spectacular settings, closely reproducing natural habitat. It also wins further acclaim in the category “Education, Nature- und Species Protection.”
Since 1991, Dr. Alex Rübel is director of the zoo and a new master plan with goals until the year 2030 was developed. While the Zoo area doubles to 78 acres, the number of species decreases to allow for larger enclosures. Rather than showing more species, the ecosystem became the focus and also included the animals’ opportunity to withdraw into private areas. The zoo was divided into several geographical zones – Eurasia, South America, Africa and the Masoala Rain Forest, named after the national park in northeastern Madagascar, which has become the zoo’s largest of its global six ecological project.
Working together with World Conservation Society on site in Madagascar, Zürich Zoo plants yearly 60,000 trees in the Masoala region, supports the lives of 35,000 people in nearby communities, implements sustainable methods of rice planting, develops infrastructure and trade for crafts, facilitates children’s education, the infrastructure for fresh water supply and pays the salary of three rangers. These compound activities help to maintain the Masoala region which is one of three globally most diversified living species biotopes and part of UNESCO world nature heritage. Many plant and animal species are exclusive to this region. Approximately 90% of Madagascar’s rain forest are already lost. Rainforest burnings to create short-term growing areas (unsustainable due to the immediate erosion), illegal wood cutting and animal killings are the greatest problems.