Erwin Meier was able, with the help of his family, to achieve his dream of creating a zoo which was almost exclusively dedicated to the local fauna in order to raise awareness and respect among the public for our wildlife. Located near Nyon, in Le Vaud, the 6'100 m2 park was a refuge and care centre for large numbers of wounded wild animals, non-native species and domestic animals whose owners could no longer care for them.
La Garenne is the first Swiss institution to contribute to the major European project to reintroduce the Bearded vulture in the Alps. It was a female born in the zoo and released in 1989 that raised the first chick hatched in the wild since the species became extinct in the Alps in 1913.
The association « Amis de la Garenne » (ADAG) was founded to provide financial support to La Garenne.
La Garenne is officially recognised as a public-interest organisation thanks to its education mission as well as its role in conserving European wildlife.
The Foundation was established to ensure the long-term viability of the zoological park. The Foundation Board’s current members are delegates from the Regional council of the Nyon district, the Municipality of Le Vaud and major stakeholders of political, economical and scientific domains as well as representatives of ADAG.
40 years after it was first opened, the aging park needed to be restored in order to improve the environment for the animals and offer better facilities for the visitors. The Foundation initiated a project to develop a new park with a high standard of quality in all areas: for the fauna and flora, visitor reception, the construction and operation of the buildings, services and products offered by the restaurant and the shop, as well as the staff.
The building permit and zoning authorisation were granted, thus officially changing the existing agricultural plot into an area of public interest.
In April, with the political, technical and financial support of dozens of people and institutions, the construction of the new park was launched, with a total budget of CHF 14.5 million. The funding model was based on a public-private partnership. The Bertarelli Foundation was the main contributor, followed by the MAVA and OAK foundations and the « Loterie Romande ».
The new park opened on schedule in March 2016 on a 3-hectare site. The new facilities enable the Foundation to better fulfil its missions. The park focuses primarily on Swiss fauna, wild and domestic, and on the principle that people are more likely to respect that which they are familiar with. The new facilities are home to a Care centre for wild animals, a 120m2 room where school classes can take part in educational activities, a restaurant and a playground where visitors can enjoy leisure time with their families.