When spring comes around everyone gets a bit antsy. We humans become more active just as animals do when the days become longer and the sun intensifies. So scoop up your children, hone your eagle eyes (or grab binoculars), locate a compass (if you are hopeless without the GPS), and stock up on water and healthy snacks and visit a Swiss nature/wild park for the day
Bruderhaus in Winterthur
Many of you have heard of the Arth Goldau Wild Park located in Central Switzerland, but did you know there is a similar park located just east of Zurich, in the Eschenwald in Winterthur: Bruderhaus Wild Park. There are over 80 animals ranging from bison, wolves, big horn sheep and other animals.
What a perfect way to spend a low-stress day this spring! There are hiking trails leading to and from the Park. A forest nature trail (Waldlehrpfad) and a geology nature trail (Geologielehrpfad). There is even a “diaper trail” (Windellehrpfad) just south of the park, designed especially for families with preschool age children. Your entire family can enjoy the trails and park; even your teens might not roll their eyes when they see rare horses; this is the place I can go with my adult children and grandchildren and truly say everyone is thrilled!
The real magic of this park is not the hiking trails but rather the abundance of roaming wildlife. There are animal blinds for viewing, and if you are patient you will see spectacular animal behavior. There are many different deer species, wild boars, the European bison, lynxes, and, the real highlight for our family, European wolves. It is also possible to experience the rare Przewalski horses originally found in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. This horse species died out in the wild in 1970. Nevertheless, successful breeding programs (like those conducted in the Bruderhaus Park) have led to their reintroduction in Mongolia recently. There is detailed information available in German about all species and their living conditions and regional occurrences.
What we particularly like at this park is the low-key way of experiencing animals in the wild. This contrasts with most of our zoo experiences. Zoos are tremendous and essential too, but it is also exciting and educational for children (and parents for that matter) to see animals roaming a bit more freely. Bruderhaus is a good, fun alternative to traditional zoos.
Entrance to the park is free of charge. You can either picnic there or eat in the restaurant Bruderhaus located in the park. The playground facilities for toddlers and children are being updated and will be complete in early May 2018. New play elements such as a bird’s nest, a snake, and a beaver dam are being constructed.
From Winterthur main train station take Bus 4 to the stop Breite, then travel on foot, following the hiking trail signs to Bruderhaus. It is about 30 minutes, at a leisurely pace.
By car: Take the A1 exit Tss travelling over Breite – Waldheim – Eschenberg. Address: Bruderholzstrasse 1, CH 8400 Winterthur. Website.
Other Swiss Nature Parks
In Lucerne area: If you enjoy the experience and want to spend an entire day in a nature park, the next step might be to visit the Arth Goldau Wild Park in Goldau, Schwyz. In addition to European bison, this park has over 100 animals, including brown bears, ibises and vultures. Natur- und Tierpark Goldau, Parkstrasse 40, 6410 Goldau.
In the Bern area: Tierpark Bern Dähölzli has animals of the northern European habitat. There are subtropical and tropical species found in the vivarium. Tierpark Bern Dähölzli Tierparkweg 1, 3005 Bern.
In Western Switzerland: You might try Juraparc, run by the Familie Blanc, along with the Restaurant du Mt d’Orzeires. Juraparc CH-1342 Le Pont-Vallorbe.
By Dr. Teresa Bingham Mueller
Teresa is a geologist and educator who currently works as an instructor and science editor. She has three sons ages 18, 21, and 34, and two grandchildren.
Photo credits: https://stadt.winterthur.ch