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Athens, Greece, is an extra­or­di­nary cap­i­tal city in Europe for many rea­sons. One of them is that it lacked a zoo­log­i­cal park until 2000. This changed when French­man Jean-​Jacques Lesueur, after liv­ing in Greece for over three decades, decided that Athens deserved a zoo. So Attica Zoo­log­i­cal Park came into exis­tence and opened its gates to the pub­lic on 16 May 2000.

Right from the onset the Zoo applied for mem­ber­ship to EAZA (Euro­pean Asso­ci­a­tion of Zoos and Aquaria), as its objec­tive was to become acknowl­edged as a zoo that met the inter­na­tion­ally stan­dards for a zoo­log­i­cal insti­tu­tion. After a tem­po­rary mem­ber­ship Attica Zoo­log­i­cal Park was accepted as a full mem­ber in 2004.

Although it was ini­tially just a bird park — home to 1100 birds from 300 dif­fer­ent species, and the 3rd largest bird col­lec­tion in the world — it grad­u­ally was turned into a reg­u­lar zoo with species rep­re­sent­ing mam­mals, rep­tiles and birds of course.

In this con­tin­u­ous expan­sion new species and enclo­sures were added such as: World of Rep­tiles in 2001; Greek Fauna in 2002; the African Savan­nah in 2003; the Big Cats sec­tion and expan­sion of the African Savan­nah in 2004; the Mon­key For­est (a walk-​through lemur exhibit) in 2005; Chee­tah Land, a chim­panzee and gib­bon exhibit, and Arid Lands (with bac­trian camel and Somali wild ass) in 2008; and white rhi­noc­er­oses were added in 2010.

These addi­tions increased the pop­u­lar­ity of the Zoo, espe­cially because they were in accor­dance with mod­ern zoo hus­bandry prin­ci­ples. In 2010, how­ever, the deci­sion to keep marine mam­mals and have them per­form in the brand new dol­phi­nar­ium, turned out to be controversial.

Attica Zoo decided that being sit­u­ated in a coun­try sur­rounded by the Mediter­ranean Sea it would serve its pur­pose as a zoo­log­i­cal insti­tu­tion to raise aware­ness about the threats that marine mam­mals face in the wild. There­fore, it estab­lished a marine mam­mals sec­tion with bottle-​nose dol­phins and Cal­i­for­nia sea lions that was opened in 2010. The pub­lic can meet these ambas­sadors for the species liv­ing in the wild in the newly built dol­phi­nar­ium. Here the vis­i­tors learn about the threats in the wild and the need for pro­tec­tion dur­ing the daily edu­ca­tional presentations/​shows. But the Greek Green Party thought oth­er­wise and took Attica Zoo­log­i­cal Park to court in 2011, claim­ing ani­mal wel­fare was at stake (see More info).

Nowa­days, Attica Zoo­log­i­cal Park cov­ers a total area of 20 hectares, home to more than 2000 ani­mals from 350 dif­fer­ent species, includ­ing one of the five largest bird col­lec­tion in the world. Its bird col­lec­tion now com­prises 250 species, of which 29 are endan­gered or crit­i­cally endan­gered accord­ing the IUCN Red List of Threat­ened Species™.

In the com­ing years the Zoo intends, through con­tin­u­ous devel­op­ment, to improve its con­tri­bu­tion to the the objec­tives of infor­ma­tion, edu­ca­tion, recre­ation and con­ser­va­tion. These future plans include the devel­op­ment of an Evo­lu­tion Museum with an empha­sis on the Age of the Dinosaurs (“Dinosavropo­lis”) and an Aquar­ium of inter­na­tional stature (“Okeanopolis”)

(Sources: Attica Zoo­log­i­cal Park web­site; Attica Zoo­log­i­cal Park guide­book; Wikipedia)

Goal: 7000 tigers in the wild

Tiger range countries map

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


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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