For many locals, the name "Knie" evokes memories of visits to the circus and trips to the children's zoo. In fact, the Knie legacy is in its seventh generation. And after more than 50 years in business, the tent of the Swiss National Circus and the Kinderzoo continue to be iconic landmarks in Switzerland.
Season Opening on Saturday, March 9
We met with Mr. Franco Knie in Rapperswil to find out what is new for this season at Knies Kinderzoo. While the zoo entrance with its iconic gate has remained unchanged since my childhood, Mr. Knie highlighted many interesting attractions which I wished had existed back then...
Unlike some other zoos, Knies Kinderzoo is very much "hands on". This is no coincidence, as it reflects the original philosophy of the founders: "We consider the Kinderzoo to be a gift to the younger generation. Close encounters with animals, whether they are domestic or exotic, will always be important. And this is especially true for today's kids who grow up with iPhones and the internet," explains Franco Knie.
Within just a couple of minutes of entering the zoo, visitors will be in touch with animals. Whether it is riding on the back of an elephant, feeding a rhino or petting a goat, these memorable experiences ultimately make people want to return.
"This year, we are offering some exciting behind-the-scenes opportunities: Waking up with the elephants, breakfast with the monkeys, or shadowing of an animal trainer," Knie reveals. While these attractions are offered upon availability, the new "Yellow Days" are marked on the zoo's calendar: Twice a month, kids dressed in yellow rain gear will get free admission!
On the question of the behavior of visitors today compared to the past, Knie reflects: "Kids still do not know enough about animals - despite the accessibility of information. The way that seeing, touching or even feeding animals here at Kinderzoo fascinates them is largely unchanged, however."
According to Knie, one of the differences is that sales of disposable cameras at the zoo's kiosk have plummeted - thanks to the advent of the iPhone. "Our visitors have also become more international, so we offer information in English as well."
New Elephant Park in 2015
Knie lets us in on exciting new plans for the future of Kinderzoo: "We have been planning on expanding our elephant section for a long time, but we did not want to do it at the expense of the soccer field next door. Now that the city is building a new sports facility elsewhere, we are moving full steam ahead with the new park for Asian elephants."
The new addition will be called Himmapan, which are mythical creatures from Asian legends. As part of this commitment, Knies Kinderzoo will be taking part in the European Endangered Species Programme which is to protect Asian elephants.
This year, Knies Kinderzoo has a number of ever so cute young animals on display:
|Dwarf Donkey||May 2012|
|Skull Monkey||May 2012|
|Ankole-Watusi Cattle||March 2012|
Knie's Kinderzoo is open daily from 9 AM - 6 PM.
Dimitri loves discovering new trends and covers architecture, design, start-ups and tourism.
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