Basel to vote on referendum over CHF100 million aquarium

The aquarium is scheduled to open in 2024. Boltshauser Architekten AG/nightnurse images

The Green Party and environment organisations have succeeding in forcing a referendum on the opening of an ‘Ozeanium’ showcasing marine and freshwater creatures from around the world.

This content was published on January 21, 2019 minutes

Opponents of CHF100 million ($100 million) project, scheduled for opening in 2024, managed to collect more than twice the number of signatures required to launch the vote. The Basel zoo, which is the main backer of the Ozeanium, expects 700,000 visitors a year to flock to the complex. 

Around 40 aquariums are planned which will host aquatic creatures like sharks, rays, corals and penguins. The building, designed by Zurich-based architects Boltshauser Architekten, can accommodate 1,000 people at any given time.

Opponents of the aquarium say they are not against the Basel zoo – which receives around a million visitors a year – but the idea that animals for the new Ozeanium will be imported from all around the world. This has the potential to lead to “animal suffering” and “weakens ecosystems”, they say.

Basel zoo director Olivier Pagan, contests the claims from the proponents of the referendum. According to him, seeing the creatures at the Ozeanium will encourage visitors to care for their ecosystems.

The vote is expected to take place on May 19. 

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