Animal advocates sound the alarm and hold regular protests against zoos. They believe that animals should not live in captivity. Perhaps they would have already achieved their goal, if it were not for the sad fact: some animals are no longer found in the wild. Representatives of rare species remaining in zoos are the last chance to restore the population.
Until the activists managed to ban zoos, let’s take a walk through the most beautiful zoos in Europe. Let’s start with Warsaw.
The Warsaw Zoo was founded in 1928, on the left, low bank of the Vistula, opposite the Royal Castle. Venant Budzinsky became its first director. The son of a Polish agronomist, Budzynski lived in Ukraine all his life: he worked on the improvement of the Shevchenko Park in Kyiv, and then became the first director of the Kyiv Zoo. After the arrival of the Bolsheviks, Budzynski moved to his brother in Vilnius, and then to Poland. There he was invited to create a zoological garden. So don’t be surprised at the similarities between the Warsaw Zoo and the Kyiv Zoo: it’s the work of one master.
The years of the Second World War became tragic for the zoo. During the shelling of the city in 1939, the director of the zoo personally shot the wounded predators so that they would not break free. Then the city was occupied by the Germans, the most valuable animals were taken to Germany, and the rest were shot for fun. The remaining milk was eaten by the townspeople when the famine began. A pig farm operated on the territory of the zoo, and Warsaw Jews hid under it in the basements under the enclosures.
In 1948, the zoo returned to work. Grown in size, increased the collection of animals, received several awards. Entrance to the zoo in the summer of 2018 costs PLN 30 for an adult and PLN 20 for a child, EUR 7 and EUR 4.7, respectively. You can get there on foot, crossing the Vistula bridge, or by bus.
A wide avenue divides the zoo into two unequal parts. The part closer to the river is smaller in area and not so interesting. There are wide enclosures for ungulates, like Przewalski’s horses, as well as a polar bear enclosure and a seal pool. It is worth going there if you are going to the zoo for the whole day and are not limited in time. The most interesting part of the zoo is the old one – on the other side of the road, further from the river.
The enclosures for large animals in the old part are also quite large, so be prepared to walk quite a bit. The Warsaw Zoo has a wonderful elephant enclosure in which three females and one male live in 2018. For the convenience of visitors, a small observation deck with benches and binoculars has been made near the enclosure. If you read even a little Polish, you can learn the biography of each animal on the plaque.
Lovers of large animals are waiting for a lawn with giraffes, a pool with hippos, open free enclosures of lions and tigers, a huge multi-level house of chimpanzees, and the enclosure of the zoo, which is the most protected – the housing of the rhinoceros. Even crocodiles and polar bears are not fenced off from spectators with live wire. Everything is true, rhinos are really dangerous, especially the females who protect their cubs. And in the spring of 2018, a baby rhino was born at the Warsaw Zoo. In the center of the park there is a special stand on which it is written which animals have been born in the zoo since the beginning of the year. Judging by the records, the animals live quite well, and their offspring appear regularly.
The zoo also has two aquarium pavilions, a terrarium, and a luxurious aviary. There are many birds in the Warsaw Zoo. Some are so amazing that it is even difficult to imagine how this miracle survives in nature.
And in the insectarium pavilion, exotic spiders, cockroaches, scorpions and other many-legged inhabitants of tropical forests are collected.
Donkeys seem to have the best life in the zoo. Ordinary gray donkeys are unpretentious in content, tolerate any climate well, and are happy to communicate with visitors. Be careful: the donkey donkey can bite!
And finally, a couple of tips for zoo visitors.
In the Warsaw Zoo, everything is done so that you will want to come again. There are comfortable benches everywhere. There are several toilets, paid and free. There is also enough drinking water in the zoo, there are street fountains and bottled mineral water in numerous kiosks. There they also sell sweet lemonade, but in the heat you want to drink even more. You can have a snack on the territory of the zoo, but do not look for culinary masterpieces here, a maximum of a burger or a panini. On the other hand, in the shops with souvenirs you will find a souvenir for every taste.