An Italian man was initially denied Swiss citizenship despite living there for 30 years because he was unaware that bears and wolves shared an enclosure at his local zoo. 

Authorities at Arth in the central canton of Schwyz asked the applicant a number of questions as part of the process, including some geared towards assessing his level of integration in the local area.  

Despite having lived in Switzerland for 30 years and running a successful small business there, his ignorance over the housing situation at the local zoo scuppered his application. 

At the Goldau nature and animal park in Arth, Syrian brown bears are housed in a two-hectare community facility with a pack of European wolves. The two species have lived together in the same compound for 11 years.  

According to, the man also had trouble with local geography and the interviewers had concerns over some of his tax reports and foreign property. 

Despite the concerns, he’d never been summoned to court because of the irregularities. 

A court on Monday ruled that the Naturalisation Commission had failed to balance their decision fairly and had placed too much value on the social integration aspect of the test. 

Switzerland has been embroiled in citizenship controversies over recent years. 

Most recently, an Iraqi woman – who had lived in the country for over 20 years – was denied her citizenship after answering ‘uh’ over 200 times in her test.   

In 2018, Switzerland clamped down on applications from people who had claimed welfare in the previous three years unless they paid back the money they’d received.    

A Dutch vegan was denied Swiss citizenship twice in 2017 for being ‘too annoying’ after she irritated authorities in her local village by campaigning against using cowbells. 

She claimed that tying a bell around the neck of cattle was cruel to animals. 

Aside from aggravating locals in her village of Gipf-Oberfrick, she had lived in the country for her whole adult life, spoke fluent Swiss-German and has children who are citizens. 


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