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His­tory

The Pilsen zoo in West-​Bohemia was founded in 1926 in the dis­trict called Doudlevce, close to the town cen­tre. It was a present the asso­ci­a­tion of friends of nature (IRIS) gave them­selves for their 25th anniver­sary. The first inmates of the zoo were mon­keys, jack­als and foxes. The num­ber of live­stock grew grad­u­ally through the next years with deer, fer­rets, mice, rac­coons, don­keys, and a bear, a capuchin mon­key, a lion and a leop­ard. After ten years, in 1936, there were 70 ani­mals.

The zoo expe­ri­enced a major set­back when on 8 Sep­tem­ber 1961 there was an out­break of anthrax. This accel­er­ated the dis­man­tle­ment on the orig­i­nal loca­tion in Doudlevce. In 1963 the zoo was relo­cated to the Lochotín dis­trict, and in 1981 it merged with the botan­i­cal gar­den. After which the off­i­cal name became the zoo­log­i­cal and botan­i­cal gar­den of the town Pilsen (Zoo­log­ická a botan­ická zahrada města Plzně). The zoo is to be found on a 21 ha premises and since 1996 it has been adjusted and changed into a zoo­log­i­cal bio-​park with focus on geo­graph­i­cal regions.

Until 1996 the zoo was not very attrac­tive, but nev­er­the­less well-​known for its large col­lec­tion of rep­tiles, its cap­tive ocelots and snowy owls, and its breed­ing of flamin­gos, spot­ted hye­nas or Turkey vul­tures. Then, a mas­ter plan to improve and refur­bish the zoo was devel­oped. Thanks to this project, many of the old-​fashioned exhibits were rebuilt and ani­mals and plants started to be evenly spread around the premises.

Also an edu­ca­tional path called „The devel­op­ment of nature in the Qua­ter­nary Period“ was designed, with an enclo­sure of a hectare of for­est for a large group of brown bears. Grad­u­ally, rare and attrac­tive species were intro­duced. Most impor­tant was the intro­duc­tion of a pair of Komodo Drag­ons, world’s largest rep­tile, in Sep­tem­ber 1997. In total, the col­lec­tion reached the num­ber of 1,178 species, rep­re­sented by about 4,970 ani­mals (cen­sus of 2009). 23 of the species take part in the Euro­pean endan­gered species pro­gramme (EEP). Fur­ther­more, it is quite remark­able that 70% of the species kept in Plzeň zoo is not to be found in any of the other Czech or Slo­vak zoos.

Cur­rently the zoo has some inter­est­ing fea­tures. The zoo has the sec­ond largest space for bears in Europe. Other nov­el­ties are evi­dent. For exam­ple in the pre­sen­ta­tion of mon­keys, where instead of the orig­i­nal 5 species in one pavil­ion, there are over 20 species spread over about seven places. None of them knows what a fence is. Since sum­mer 2000, the chim­panzees have had a nat­ural open enclo­sure with grass, bush and trees at their dis­posal. Sim­i­lar „island“ enclo­sures were estab­lished for white-​handed gib­bons, colobus mon­keys, lion-​tailed macaques and ring-​tailed lemurs. The large cats were grad­u­ally moved from a com­mon pavil­ion to their own roomy new enclo­sures (jaguar, pan­ther, tiger). Not to men­tion the 800 square meters exhibit of Bar­bary lions instead of the few small orig­i­nal cages. The rest of the orig­i­nal pavil­ion of these large preda­tors was changed in a vast recon­struc­tion to an African noc­turar­ium „The Mys­te­ri­ous World of African Night“ in 2001.

Plzeň zoo is in 2010 only halfway to its final appear­ance. There are still lots of changes to be made, paths to be built, pavil­ions, sta­bles and exhibits to be recon­structed, and remain­ing iron fences to be sub­sti­tuted with moats and pal­isades. All this in favour of the ani­mals, to ensure their wel­fare and con­se­quently their repro­duc­tion, and the vis­i­tors.
(Source: web­site Pilsen zoo)

Goal: 7000 tigers in the wild

Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

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about zoos and their mis­sion regard­ing breed­ing endan­gered species, nature con­ser­va­tion, bio­di­ver­sity and edu­ca­tion, which of course relates to the evo­lu­tion of species.
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