Welt der Gifte – Salzburg, Austria - Atlas Obscura

Welt der Gifte

At this exhibit on the world of poison, venomous animals steal the show. 

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Welt Der Gifte is Austria’s smallest and most toxic zoo. Located in Salzburg, the facility is home to a surprising number of reptiles, amphibians, and arthropods—but only of the venomous and poisonous varieties.

The permanent exhibit dedicated to the world of poison was put together by Doctor Nils Kley, a veterinary expert. Kley spent two years assembling the living and nonliving exhibits. The museum, which originally opened in Germany in 2017, aims to spread knowledge about poisons and their role in various aspects of life. After a brief closure, it opened in Salzburg in 2020.

While the focus is on venomous animals, it also includes organic as well as inorganic toxins such as poisonous plants and seeds, mushrooms, microorganisms, poisonous elements, and their various compounds. The facility can only be visited by booking a guided tour.

Depending on the individual topic, visitors will be able to observe the bacteria Clostridium botulinum under the microscope and learn about its connection to botox injections; understand unexpected and delicious means of intoxication such as quail, pineapple, or cinnamon; wonder about weird fashion trends such as arsenic clothes; touch real blow pipes from Brazilian indigenous tribes; and see several real-life ingredients from Harry Potter’s potions classes.

But the show stealers are the snakes, lizards, scorpions, spiders, and toads—around 50 in total—all of which produce deadly venom within their bodies. They can be observed at close quarters and the tours explain their relation to the biology of poison.

Visitors can also book additional tours, photo sessions, and handling or husbandry courses.

Know Before You Go

The facility can only be visited by booking a guided tour.