Prairie dogs most popular at Prague Zoo

Cute critters lead in a program that allows people to adopt or sponsor animals

Animals in Prague Zoo can be adopted or sponsored by people. In the ranking of popularity for the past 10 years, the prairie dog, Humboldt penguin, and sugar glider lead among adoptions and sponsorships. Spiders, frogs, and reptiles are popular choices for children. There have been 1,357 adoptions and sponsorships of prairie dogs over the decade, and 960 for the Humboldt penguin.

The animal sponsorship and adoption program was launched at the Prague Zoo in the late 1990s as a way of getting the public interested in animals and the zoo.

Zoo spokesman Lubor Mach said that the sponsorships and adoptions could be used to broadly see which animals were most popular.

For sponsoring, people can provide any amount from Kč 100 and up for any animal in the zoo.

Adoption has a fixed amount for each animal from Kč 1,000 to Kč 50,000. “The amount expresses the symbolic demands of a given breed, so it is fixed for all species," Mach said, according to daily Pražský deník. The adopted animals, of course, remain in the zoo. A plaque with the name of the adopting person or company is placed near the animal’s habitat, and depending on the amount there are other benefits.

Elephants, hippos, and meerkats are most popular for sponsorship. Gorillas come in fifth place.

For Kč 1,000, people can choose from a large number of invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and small mammals.

Fish go up to Kč 2,000, while mammals go up to Kč 50,000 for elephants, tigers, giraffes, and hippos. Birds reach Kč 8,000 for pelicans and cassowaries. Among reptiles, the Chinese giant salamander is the most expensive at Kč 20,000, the same price as a leopard or cheetah.

The most expensive animals in the children’s zoo are alpacas and dwarf zebus, at Kč 5,000.

The list of adopted animal species is dominated by species that are financially affordable and at the same time have attributes that are attractive to the public. “In the zoo, these species are referred to collectively as plush," Mach told Pražský deník. These include big cats, monkeys, lemurs, apes, sea lions, and giraffes.

“The porcupine and Humboldt penguin, whose cuteness scores high, can be included among the plush animals,” Mach said, adding that appearance was an important factor to people.

On the other end of the spectrum, small animals known as vermin are also popular. These include cockroaches, spiders, frogs and all kinds of reptiles. “This category cannot be underestimated in popularity, especially among children,” he said.

In 2017, the most popular adopted animals were the prairie dog, slow loris, Senegal bushbaby, sugar glider and clouded leopard. The most popular sponsorships were the Indian elephant, hippo, meerkat, Humboldt penguin and Western gorilla.

The zoo this year welcomed its 60 millionth visitor since it opened 86 years ago. Last year the zoo had 1,448,353 visitors in total, making it one of the country’s top attractions. Figures for 2017 should be released soon.

Prague Zoo was ranked the fifth-best in the world by users of the travel site TripAdvisor this year.

So far this year the zoo has seen the births of a litter of cheetahs, a litter of wolves, a rare white-bearded tamarin 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. The zoo has 12 pavilions and over 150 exhibits. It has been particularly active in the preservation of the Przewalski's horses, which are slowly being returned to the wild.

For more information on adoption and sponsorship, visit (ENG)

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