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A Free Visit to the Zoological Museum Zurich

Last Updated on April 11, 2024 by Darla Uhl

This free natural history museum, Zoological Museum Zurich, is a fascinating place for both young and old right in the heart of Zurich. It is located at the University of Zurich and has over 1,500 animal species on display. It is an interesting place to visit if you want to learn more about the natural world. The Zoological Museum Zurich’s collection is vast and varied, with various groups of animals on display, from insects to mammals. Right beside the Zoological Museum, you can also find the Palaeontological Museum.

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Visitors to the Zoological Museum Zurich can explore the wonders of the natural world through a range of exhibits and displays. Students, children, and families will enjoy the permanent displays, temporary exhibits, and events they have.

In general, you will be able to see animals on display. The museum’s galleries are arranged thematically, with each section focusing on different animal groups or geographic regions. For example, the arctic animals will be grouped together, or birds will be grouped together, etc. The museum also has a number of interactive exhibits such as multimedia.


History of Zoological Museum Zurich

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The Zoological Museum Zurich has a rich history of scientific exploration and public education all the way back to the 17th century. Nowadays, the Zoological Museum continues to be a leading center for zoological education in Zurich, in the country, and even beyond.

Early Years

The Zoological Museum of the University of Zurich was founded in the 17th century. Its origin can be traced to the private collections of Johann Jakob Scheuchzer and Johannes von Muralt.

Johann Jakob Scheuzer was a Swiss scholar, physician, and naturalist who collected specimens in the 17th century. Johannes von Muralt was a Swiss anatomist and surgeon who is considered the founder of anatomical teaching in Zurich.

The museum’s original collection was small and focused on local fauna. In time, the local collection grew rapidly in the 19th century. Over time, it would become one of the most popular museums in the region, with even students from Germany visiting its collections featuring hundreds of birds and mammals.

Zoological Museum Zurich Today

The collections of the Zoological Museum Zurich have steadily increased over the years. Nowadays, it is housed in a central location within the University of Zurich. The museum itself is divided into two levels. The ground floor is focused on the taxidermy and skeletons of the Swiss fauna. This complements the fossils of the Paleontological Museum located next door.

Going one level below will lead you to collections of marine animals and mammals. As mentioned, the animals are organized according to their geography. Further, they are arranged such that animal types are grouped together.


Zoological Museum Collections

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The Zoological Museum Zurich has an impressive collection of over 1,500 specimens from Switzerland. It also has a wide range of animal species from different continents around the world.

In particular, the bird collection is quite extensive compared to other animal families. Here, you will find a lot of different specimens of birds from all over the world. There is a strong emphasis on Swiss bird species.

Visit this link to view all of the animals on display: https://www.zm.uzh.ch/de/dauerausstellung/alleunseretiere.html

Here are some of the animals that you can expect at the Zoological Museum Zurich:

FamilyAnimals
MonkeysBlue-mouthed monkey, langur, yellow baboon, vervet monkey
Great ApesLowland Gorilla
LemursRuffed Lemur, Red-bellied Lemur, Coquerel’s Dwarf Lemur, White-fronted Lemur
GiraffesGiraffe
BirdsRed-billed Chough, Amazon Kingfisher, Bearded Vulture, Peregrine Falcon, Golden Eagle
InsectsCarrion beetles, Scarabs, Leaf beetles, Ladybugs, Stink Bugs, Nepidae, Water striders
SnakesAesculapian snake, Green anaconda, Common European viper, Barred grass snake
LizardsViviparous Lizard, Italian Wall Lizard, Sand Lizard
FishCommon Whitefish, Northern Pike, Largemouth Bass, Rainbow Trout, Lake Trout

This is only a small sample of the 1,500 animals found in the museum. For researchers, students, and anyone interested in the diversity of animal life, the collections of the Zoological Museum Zurich are an excellent resource.


Zoological Museum Zurich: What to Expect

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The Zoological Museum Zurich is home to a vast collection of exhibits that showcase various animals from all over the world. The museum is divided into different sections, each featuring exhibits that cater to visitors of all ages and interests. What you will likely encounter are the permanent exhibits on display. Each year, they have one or two temporary exhibits on display.

Aside from the permanent and temporary exhibits, the Zoological Museum Zurich also presents a film about certain topics on selected dates. The film program is published online on their website.

Not only are things on display at the museum. They also provide sharing of their knowledge by use of workshops, quizzes, guided tours, and educational paraphernalia. Furthermore, schoolchildren are more than welcome to spend the day there with their teacher and classmates to learn more about animals.

Permanent Exhibits

You can step into a world of diversity at the Zoological Museum Zurich’s permanent exhibits. Featuring more than 1,500 animal specimens on display, you will be delighted. These exhibits are arranged thoughtfully in a taxonomic matter and divided into their geographical locations. With the permanent exhibits, you will learn more about the fascinating animal kingdom.

The following are included in the permanent exhibits:

  • Birds: The bird collection at the museum is quite extensive and showcases more than 300 different bird species including local birds, birds of prey, water birds, and songbirds.
  • Mammals: The mammal exhibit features specimens of various mammals, including carnivores, primates, rodents, and more.
  • Fish: Although not as extensive as the bird collection, you can find trout, bass, pike, and whitefish among those on display.
  • Reptiles and Amphibians: The reptile and amphibian exhibit displays specimens of snakes, lizards, and frogs.
  • Insects: The insect exhibit features specimens such as ladybugs, beetles, stink bugs, and water striders.

Temporary Exhibits

In addition to its permanent exhibits, the Zoological Museum Zurich also hosts temporary exhibits that showcase various aspects of the animal kingdom. There are typically one or two new temporary exhibits each year. This provides visitors with a fresh experience each time they visit the museum. Some of the recent temporary exhibits include:

  • Fossils in Alpstein (2022): Frozen creatures enclosed in the ancient Alpstein mountain range found in the Appenzell region.
  • Evolution Happens (2021): Evolution in our everyday lives and in the fields of medicine, agriculture, and nature conservation.
  • Milk (2020): Milk and how it is used by mammals and their brood.
  • Aqua (2019): Photographs by Michel Roggo about plants and animals, ice and stone formations, and more.
  • Insects (2018 to 2019): How insects are important for biodiversity, dangers of extinction, research and politics necessary to help necessary insect populations.

Educational Programs

The Zoological Museum Zurich is committed to educating the public about the fascinating world of animals. The museum offers a variety of educational programs for visitors of all ages, including:

  • Guided tours: Visitors can join guided tours to learn about the museum’s exhibits and collections. These tours are led by knowledgeable guides who provide insights and typically take place every Sunday from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM.
  • Family Workshops: The museum offers workshops for younger children so that they can learn about specific topics related to the animal kingdom, such as nutrition, food preferences, and digestion.
  • School programs: The museum offers programs for school groups, designed to complement the school curriculum. Their school programs can also take place beyond the museum’s opening hours. They have various offers for kindergarten, primary, and secondary school children. You can expect quizzes, workshops, shows, learning tools, interactive bags, and more.

How to Get to the Zoological Museum Zurich

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Zoological Museum Zurich is easy to reach on foot or by tram from Zurich’s city center.

AddressZoologisches Museum der Universität Zürich
Karl-Schmid-Strasse 4
8006 Zürich
BusZürich, ETH/Universitätsspital (2-minute walk)
FunicularCentral Polybahn
Polyterrasse ETH (3-minute walk)
TramETH/Universitätsspital (4-minute walk)
TrainZurich (11-minute walk)

Final Thoughts: Zoological Museum Zurich

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The Zoological Museum Zurich, located in Zurich, Switzerland, offers a captivating experience with its vast collection of exhibits showcasing animals from around the world. Divided into different sections, the museum caters to visitors of all ages and interests. Its permanent exhibits are a highlight, providing a comprehensive overview of various animal species. Additionally, the museum features one or two temporary exhibits each year, offering new and unique insights into specific topics.

Visiting the Zoological Museum Zurich provides an excellent opportunity to expand your knowledge about the animal kingdom. Through the exhibits, visitors can learn about different species, their habitats, behaviors, and evolutionary adaptations. The museum also presents selected films on specific dates, further enhancing the educational experience and providing additional perspectives on various topics.

There are several benefits to visiting the Zoological Museum Zurich. Beyond the informative displays, the museum offers interactive workshops, quizzes, guided tours, and educational paraphernalia to engage visitors of all ages. This ensures a dynamic and immersive learning experience. Moreover, the museum warmly welcomes schoolchildren, providing an enriching environment for educational trips where students can explore and deepen their understanding of animals alongside their teachers and classmates. The best thing about visiting the museum is that you can get in for free!


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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.

Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.

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