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Moscow Zoo

Moscow Zoo, Moscow, Russia
History of the Zoo

Moscow Zoo has come a long way from its beginnings as a small zoological garden to the large scientific, educational and conservation institution that it is today.

The zoo was founded in 1864 on the original 17th century territory of the village of Voskresenkoye near the Presnya River . The nearby Presnya ponds were famous for their pure water, and in the 18th century a large fish farm was set up here.

In 1864 the All-Russian Imperial Society for the Acclimatization of Plants and Animals founded a zoological garden around the ponds and opened it to visitors on 13th February 1864. Anatoly P. Bogdanov, a Professor at Moscow State University, was one of the organizational forces behind the founding of the zoo and called it a "a living museum outdoors", all the more extraordinary for the difficulties they encountered due to Moscow's severe northern climate.

Moscow Zoo, Moscow, Russia

The zoo opened with some 134 specimens of domestic animals and 160 specimens of wild animals, including a rhinoceros, which was presented to the zoo by the Grand Duke Konstantin. The zoo was an instant success with visitors, but despite the entrance fees gathered in from these visitors and sponsorship from individuals and members of the Imperial family, the zoo started to experience severe financial difficulties. The Moscow City Government refused to support the zoo and after a disastrous 3-year spell under the private ownership of the Ryabinin family, it was returned to the Society for the Acclimatization of Plants and Animals and fund raising activity started again. In 1905 the zoo territory was badly damaged during the revolutionary battles that erupted all over Moscow and many of the zoo buildings were damaged and some of the animals died tragically. After the October Revolution of 1917 the Society in charge of the zoo ceased to exist, and in 1919 the zoo was nationalized. In 1922 it was transferred to the authority of Moscow City Council and since then it has been supported by the City Authorities, who have more than doubled its territory.

The zoo functioned even during the years of the Second World War, when more than six million people visited its animals and educational centers. The zoo continued to expand and by the 1960s it boasted more than 500 species and subspecies and 3.5 thousand specimens. During the 1980s there were growing fears as to the state of disrepair of most of the zoo buildings and enclosures and in the early 1990s Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov initated and funded a massive redevelopment project that aimed to completely reconstruct and modernize the zoo.

Today Moscow Zoo covers an area of 20 hectares and is home to 960 species and over 5,000 animals and birds in all. The zoo's numerous rare and exotic species include Przewalski's wild horses, musk oxen with magnificent sharply-bent horns, Pere David's deer, wolves with manes of a yellowish red, Siberian tigers, handsome gray snow leopards, spectacled bears with white collars and white or yellow rings around the eyes, and tortillas from the Seychelles. The zoo also boasts an impressive and varied collection of birds, the most exotic of which is undoubtedly the Australian emu, which stands nearly two meters high. The zoo's Monkey and Cat Houses and aquariums are great favorites with the children and kids of all ages are kept constantly entertained by the animals, the information displays, the children's playgrounds and the numerous souvenir shops and cafes that are located throughout the territory of the zoo. Don't miss the Night World and African Pavilions or the exhibitions of animalistic art in the Monkey House. The zoo is the perfect day out for the kids!

Metro:

Barrikadnaya / Krasnopresnenskaya

Open:

Tuesday to Sunday 10am - 5pm. Closed Monday.

Entrance:

Free for children under 12 years old.

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