Zoo to celebrate lions and elephants

A special program will educate the public about both animals

Prague Zoo is celebrating World Elephant Day and World Lion Day on Aug. 12 with a special program.
Technically, the lions have their international celebration two days earlier, but the zoo is combining the holidays.

The morning will be dedicated to elephants, with an information stand near the elephants' enclosure from 10 am to 1 pm. There will also be a commented meeting, in Czech, at 11 am and 2:30 pm.

The afternoon will belong to the lions. An information stand will be near them from 1 pm to 4 pm, and commented meetings will take place at 2 pm and 3 pm.

The zoo's two young elephants, Rudi and Maxi, will be participating and are among the zoo's most popular residents. Max is the older of the pair, and he turned 1 year old in May. Rudi was born in October. Both are named for emperors. They love to play together and will be with the herd all Saturday morning and ready for elephant selfies, or selfies with elephants in the background.

For those interested, there is paper making with treated elephant dung, which is high in fiber content. The process is sanitary as the materials have been prepared in advance to meet hygienic standards.

As for the big cats, people will get to learn the difference between Indian and African lions. People will get to see, among other things, the bones that lions leave behind after a big meal. Games will include one that shows how lion prides work together.

Elephants are considered endangered in the wild, and lions are slightly better off, listed as vulnerable. But both face threats from poaching and loss of habitat. Lions and elephants are found in parts Africa and Asia. The range of lions in Asia is now very small. Elephants tend to be found in isolated pockets on both continents.

Prague Zoo was ranked the fourth-best in the world by users of the travel site TripAdvisor in July 2015.

The zoo this year has seen the births of a litter of wolves, a rare white-bearded tamarin, a litter of cheetahs and several Komodo dragons.

Prague Zoo currently covers 58 hectares with 50 hectares used for exhibits. It has over 4,700 animals from 681 species, including 144 species listed as threatened. It has been particularly active in the preservation of the Przewalski's horses, which are slowly being returned to the wild.

The zoo as of May 31 is entirely non-smoking. New parking lots with a free shuttle bus opened recently at Povltavská Street by the Blanka tunnel.

According to state agency CzechTourism, the Prague Zoo was the third-most visited attraction in the Czech Republic, with 1.4 million people coming in 2016.

The zoo, which opened in 1931, this year welcomed its 60 millionth visitor. Last year it saw 1,448,353 visitors.

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