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Prague Zoo (Prague, Czech Republic)
Member Name: MollyWH
Prague Zoo (Prague, Czech Republic)
Advantages: So many animals to see, zoo helps with conservation work
Disadvantages: Some of the larger animals needed bigger enclosures
As always, when I go on holiday, we try and visit as many animals places as possible while I am there. With being a massive animal lover, one of the places I definitely wanted to visit while on holiday in Prague was Prague Zoo.
I am still undecided on how I feel about zoo's as I believe wild animals should be allowed to be wild. One of the reasons we were keen to visit Prague zoo was because there are heavily involved in conservation work and I believe that this is vital to help many of the animals which are becoming endangered.
Prague zoo is located a few miles outside of Prague City Centre so you will need to use public transport to get there. We asked directions from the tourist information centre and were told to take a tram, and then a bus in order to reach the zoo. All in all, the journey probably took about 20 minutes and we found the directions and public transport systems extremely easy to use.
The zoo is open all year round by the times vary according to what time of year you visit. The opening times are as follows:
March - 9am - 5pm
April, May, September & October - 9am - 6pm
June, July & August - 9am - 7pm
November - February - 9am - 4pm
The admission costs depend on what time of year you visit the zoo. High season in Prague runs from April to September and prices are as follows:
Children 0-3 years - Free
Children 3-15 years - 60kc - roughly £1.65
Students - 60kc - roughly £1.65
Adult - 100kc - roughly £2.75
Dog - 20kc - roughly £0.55
Low season in Prague runs from October to March and admission costs for low season are as follows:
Children 0-3 years - Free
Children 3-15 years - 40kc - roughly £1.10
Students - 40kc - roughly £1.10
Adult - 60kc - roughly £1.65
Dog - 20kc - roughly £0.55
As you pay at the ticket office, there is a chance to buy a map of the zoo. The maps cost 5kc which is roughly about 15p so they are well worth the money. We didn't actually buy one and there are plenty of maps around the park on large signposts but if I were to visit to zoo again, then I would buy one just to make things a bit easier. The zoo is so large, you definitely need a map!!
About Prague Zoo
Prague Zoo was first opened in 1931 and only accepted visitors at the weekend. In 1931, the zoo only held 100 animals. Since then, the zoo has changed massively and now holds 4500 animals and is spread across 60 hectares of land.
The zoo is split into various sections, with many different zones based on the origin of the animals, i.e. all the animals from Africa in one section, animals from Indonesia in another section.
In 2002, on August 14th, Prague Zoo was seriously flooded with some parts being up to ten metres under the water. A massive evacuation was carried out but sadly many animals still died. However, many of the animals were successfully evacuated and saved including elephants, tigers and hundreds of birds just to name a few. The floods of 2002 raised concerns over whether the zoo should be opened again but the public voted in favour of this decision and 20 million Czech crowns were raised to help towards restoration and building costs.
The Zoo is split into sections and I will give a brief description of the main sections. Please note that there are more sections than the one which I am going to mention but I am going to outline the main sections that I think are of more interest to anyone wanting to visit the zoo, and obviously the sections that myself and my fiancée enjoyed the most.
The Lower Level
The lower level of the zoo holds most of the birds which can be seen at the zoo. There are literally hundreds of different species of birds which include eagles, hornbills, vultures, budgies, penguins and flamingos just to name a few.
The first section we visited upon entering the zoo, was the Penguin enclosure. There was an indoor and outdoor section to this which was totally surrounded by glass, meaning visitors get a perfect view of the penguins. The enclosure was large, with lots of little caves for the penguins to go in, as well as several pools for them to swim in. One this I really liked about this enclosure was that you can view the penguins underwater which was a lovely experience. You can see them above and below the water through the glass and we spent quite a bit of time just watching them swimming and grooming themselves.
Next to the penguin section, is the sea lion enclosure. This is very similar to the penguin enclosure as again, you can view them above and below the water. However, you actually need to go underground to view them under the water and we thought the entrance to this was quite well hidden so make sure you keep your eyes open for it! The sea lions had a large swimming area as well as rocks for resting on and then even had a slide which we saw them using!
Along from here are the many species of birds. Some of the first species we saw included vultures, birds of prey and flamingos. The enclosures vary in size, for example, the flamingos had a very large grassy areas with several ponds but the Eagles had an aviary which I felt could have been a bit bigger, although having said that, they still had natural enclosure with trees inside the aviary so they still had plenty of room to fly freely. You can follow the pathways and view all the various species of birds which are either side of the pathway.
Also along the lower section of the zoo, there is the Farm Area where you can see animals such as goats, pigs, horses and chickens. These animals all had fields to roam and a stable area full of straw. As we visited in December (which was quite chilly) many of the animals were snuggled up in the straw. The goats managed to drag themselves away from their beds and came over to say hello. There are some machines located in this area where you can buy food for the farm animals which you can feed to them by hand.
Next, was the Gorilla House. Outside, there is a large grassy area with several wooden climbing frames and ropes. There is also an inside area with glass viewing panels where you can literally stand next to the Gorilla's (with the glass separating you). I really liked this section as you can get so close to the animals and view them interacting with one another. In the indoor area, there is a video which plays giving you information about the Gorillas kept at the zoo and information about Gorilla's in general. There were at least 4 baby gorilla's in the enclosure which goes to show that the zoo must be doing something right, to have the Gorilla's breeding here.
Next up were the reptile sections. Many different species of reptiles can be seen here and the enclosure is a walk through one, where you enter through a door into a warm and tropical environment. The area you walk through is dark, with the reptile enclosure being brightly lit. I really liked this idea as it means that the reptiles are not really bothered by the visitors as they cant see them in the dark and I felt that this provided a fairly natural enclosure for them. I was very impressed with the reptile enclosures as they were absolutely massive with each enclosure decorated to the style of where the animal comes from i.e. the Bearded Dragons had a desert style enclosure and the Chameleons had a tropical rainforest style enclosure. The enclosures were so clean and while we were walking through, we noticed them being cleaned out again even though they seemed spotless to us so it seemed that they take great care of the animals. Reptiles that can be seen include varieties of lizards, snakes and tortoises.
The Pavillion of Big Cats was next and here you can see a variety of big cats such as Lion's, Tiger's and Leopards. Again, this is a walk through section with glass viewing panels. Personally, I felt that this section could have been much larger than it was. The animals, particularly the big cats, were in rather small concrete enclosures. However, because of the cold weather, the animals were shut away from their roaming area outside so we couldn't actually see what sort of area this covered. I did feel that if the animals need to be shut away in the cold weather then the enclosures need to be enlarged and have more natural surroundings such as logs, trees etc which I felt that the indoor enclosures lacked. Having said that though, there were two baby Tigers which were play fighting with one another which I thoroughly enjoyed watching. I believe that the zoo must be doing something right to have the animals breeding here but as an animal lover this certainly was one of my least favourite parts as I left feeling sad that the big cats didn't seem to have much room.
The Cheetahs were a different story though, we actually got to see them in their roaming area which consisted of a fairly large field with trees and logs inside. We saw one Cheetah who was stalking down a hill on the side of his enclosure. I have to say that all the big cats looked healthy, with healthy coats and bright eyes despite my feeling that the enclosures could have been bigger.
The Pavillion of Big Mammals holds the Elephants and Hippos. The elephants had a large enclosure which consisted of several fields which were sectioned off. I assume this was to keep certain elephants apart. As well as having the fields, the elephants also had a sand play area where the keepers take them to do activities such as moving logs which the elephants really seemed to enjoy. We only saw the Hippos in their indoor enclosure (that's assuming they had an outdoor section) and I felt that this was definitely too small for the three Hippo's it housed.
I have covered the main areas of the lower section of the zoo so now we will move on the upper section.
The Upper Section
There are just as many animals to see in the Upper section as there is in the lower section, if not more. In the upper section there is the African experience, the Malaysian Jungle and the Creepy Crawly section to name a few.
The Malaysian Jungle section is definitely one that I would recommend. The enclosure is very similar to the Eden Project in Cornwall with a hug walk in, rather tropical environment. The enclosure was very natural and the pathways are literally how you would imagine it would be to walk through the jungle with loads of trees and vegetation. There are several species of birds that fly freely in here. As you walk through the pathways, there are information boards providing you with details of the animals and Indonesia, however, these signs were in Czech so we were unable to read them.
Monkey's and Gibbons can be seen in here and they all have climbing areas and lots of room to play. The land on which the animals reside if surrounded by water and you can see Turtles swimming around in here too. As you exit this section, you will find that it leads through to a very dark section where you can view all the animals that come out when the sun goes down. The enclosures themselves are very dark too so we did have a job to spot the animals but I liked the fact that the enclosures were kept dark to simulate the natural environments of the animals. In here, you can see Bats, a selection of Australian animals and many more.
I really enjoyed watching the Otters in the upper section. They had a large enclosure and you could view them above and below the water. The otters were lovely and almost seemed to enjoy the visitors watching them, as you went over, they made a high pitched noise and came over to the side of the enclosure to pop their heads out and see what you wanted.
In the African experience section you can see deer, antelopes, giraffes and Meer cats just to name a few. This section is massive and covers a large area of the zoo. The giraffes had a field which must have covered at least 2 acres which was lovely to see in comparison to the smaller enclosures of the big cats.
From here, you can see large mammals such as Bison, Moose and a selection of deer. There were many animals but to be honest, I saw so many that day that I lost track of what they were called.
At the highest point of the zoo, you can see the large birds such as Ostriches. There were other large exotic looking birds although sadly I can not remember what they were called.
One of the larger enclosures housed the Przelwalski horse and Prague Zoo plays a large role in the conservation of these beautiful animals. Over 200 of them have been bred here with some of them being released back to their native environment in the Gobi desert.
Next is the Wolf section which again was very large. There were probably about 30 wolves and they all seemed very happy. The enclosure had large rocks and logs for them to climb on. Following on from here, you will find yourself walking down a winding path where you can see hyena's (again with a large enclosure) and you can also see the Zebras in their massive field. The zebra's were fascinating to watch as they were playing with one another and galloping across their field.
Finally, on your way down from the upper section, you can see the Polar Bears. I was really looking forward to this as I have never seen Polar Bears before. There are two enclosures with a Polar Bear in each. The enclosure consisted of layers of rocks, with each layer taking the Bear up higher. There was also a swimming area and a waterfall in each enclosure. Although I wouldn't exactly describe the enclosures as small, I still felt they could have been a lot bigger considering the size of the Polar Bears. I also felt that the Polar Bear didn't seem very happy as he just paced around an awful lot. I must admit that I left this section feeling a little disappointed and sad.
There is a number of restaurants and cafés which are dotted around the zoo, meaning that you are never very far away from one. There is a main restaurant just inside the entrance which is pretty big with lots of seating area. The food wasn't anything special, a self service buffet, but it was extremely cheap and still tasted good. This was the only restaurant that was open when we visited as it was low season. We ate here and between us we had a plate of chips, chicken and chips, two deserts and two hot drinks and the whole meal came to under a fiver which we thought was very reasonable.
There are plenty of toilets which are spread out across the zoo. The toilets are free to use which is a rarity is Prague and we found them to be very clean.
There was also a gift shop which sold al the usual souvenirs such as magnets, cups and cuddly toys.
Visitors can take advantage of the Cable Ride within the zoo. The cable ride runs from the lower section of the zoo, to the upper section and saves you to walk to the top. There is a charge for using it but I am unsure what this is as this was closed when we visited as it was low season.
I was amazed to see that dogs are allowed into the zoo, although they do have to be kept on leads. There are several drinking areas for the dogs, near to the facilities for the visitors. In certain sections, you are not allowed to take the dogs inside, for example, in the Indonesian Jungle section but there are areas outside where you can clip your dogs lead and pick them up when you finish.
Overall, I was impressed with this zoo. Although I felt that the larger mammals such as the Hippos and Polar Bears could have had more room, the other enclosures were perfect, clean, natural and large.
I liked the fact that as far as possible, the enclosure were natural, with many of them being made from natural materials. I liked the fact that care had been taken to ensure each animals had an enclosure which simulated their natural environments.
One down side was that pretty much all the signs were in Czech but I don't expect to visit foreign countries and have everything in English so this wasn't a problem, it just would have been nice to see the English names for some of the animals.
Prague Zoo is possibly the largest Zoo I have ever visited. The zoo was only open until 4pm when we visited and we found that we couldn't look at the whole zoo in one day. In total, we spent 10 hours, spread across two days at the Zoo and to be honest, if it was warmer, we would have spent much longer here.
I would highly recommend a trip to Prague zoo but you really do need a whole day, if not two to see it in its entirety.
Summary: How Big???