History of the Prague Zoo
People have always tried to breed animals that do not usually live in the latitude where Prague
lies. A menagerie was a part of the Prague Castle
from the 10th century, when it was founded, where Czech kings or later governors kept animals such as lions, tigers, camels, exotic snakes or birds. But those were private spaces, not available to regular people. The first attempts to open a public zoological garden appeared at the end of the 19th century, however, they did not succeed until about forty years later. The Prague Zoological Garden
to the public 90 years ago,
on 28 September 1931
. At the beginning, you could find lions, wolves, sea lions or elephants in the zoo; later on, as it expanded its area, the number of animals also grew. At present, you will find a total of 5,300 animals
and almost 700 species
on about 60 hectares
The most popular Czech zoological garden
The zoo in Prague is undoubtedly the most frequently visited zoological garden in the Czech Republic
. Annually, about one and a half million people visit the zoo, which makes it the most visited place in the country. Visitors can imagine that they are travelling through all the continents in one day. There are different pavilions and enclosures there. The most popular pavilion is the Indonesian Jungle
, which is a covered biotope pavilion with the fauna and flora of south-east Asia – with orangutans or the rare Komodo dragons, and the Gorilla House
with a gorilla family. You can even watch the gorillas via a webcam, making friends with them remotely. You will also enjoy a visit to the Elephant Valley
, a stop at the hippopotamus pavilion, or a visit to the Great Salamander House
with the rare Chinese giant salamanders. The Gharial House
is also worth a visit; Prague is the first one in Europe to acquire gharials. Or you can see the newest addition – Tasmanian devils
. The four devils living in the Darwin Crater
, an exposition of Tasmanian and Australian fauna, came to Prague directly from Tasmania. The devils were born in a Tasmanian breeding station, and they came to Europe to increase awareness of Australia, its fauna, and problems that these animals have to face. When in the house, you will feel as if you stepped right into Australia because the Tasmanian devils are accompanied by other rare Tasmania inhabitants – several types of kangaroos, birds or echidnas.
Saving animals – the mission of zoological gardens
Modern zoological gardens do not only aim at entertaining or educating visitors. Their main mission lies in saving wild animals
and potentially help return them into the wild
. Ninety years, the Prague Zoo set the objective to contribute to saving the Przewalski horse: the wild horse of the Mongolian steppe. The Prague Zoo plays a crucial role in their conservation in the wild; they even keep their global herd-book, and it is the only zoo in the world that has transported the last wild horses in the world back to the Mongolian steppe in cooperation with the Czech army. However, the zoo also saves other unique species, such as the critically endangered northern river terrapin, a species of turtle that the zoo breeds. Unfortunately, there is no known wild living population of these reptiles, and the rescue of the species is incumbent on artificial breeding.
What to do next?
Not feeling like spending a whole day in the zoo? You can combine the trip with a walk in Stromovka
or along River Vltava, or with a visit to the Troja Château
or the Botanical Garden
with one of the most beautiful Prague vineyards, the St. Claire’s vineyard
, and the tropical Fata Morgana greenhouse
. You can even take a boat from the centre of Prague to the zoo; it is fast and comfortable, and children will enjoy an adventure to remember.