Prague Zoo has second-highest attendance

The zoo saw several significant births including cheetahs and Malayan tigers

Prague Zoo had a good year in 2017 and has already seen its first birth of 2018, a black lamb that is already in the children’s zoo

Attendance in 2017 was just short of the record and the second-highest ever. Some 1,445,126 visited, only 3,227 visitors behind in the record year of 2016. The zoo was closed for two days at the end of October due to the storm Herwart, and if that had not occurred the record would have been broken, zoo spokesman Lubor Mach said in a press release.

In April, the zoo welcomed its 60 millionth visitor since it opened on Sept. 28, 1931. The record-setting visitor was Vlastimil Čermák from Prague. In the early years, there were around half a million visitors per year, and that rose to 750,000 in the 1950s. The 25 millionth visitor was in 1975. Attendance dropped after 1989 and was low for more than a decade after that. It crossed the 1 million mark for the first time in 2005, after modernization following the 2002 flood.

The zoo had a great year for breeding in 2016 with 1,261 offspring in 219 species of mammals, birds, and reptiles.

One of the most significant births was three male and two female cheetahs. They were born May 15 with 6-year-old mother Savannah and 5-year-old father Ben. The Prague Zoo has been keeping cheetahs since 1933, and 64 have been born there.

Two critically endangered Malayan tiger cubs were born Oct. 3 to 11-year-old female tiger Banya and 10-year-old male Johann. The male cub was healthy and the female initially was smaller and needed special care. The Feline and Reptile Pavilion had to be closed temporarily as visitors made the new mother nervous around her babies.

Breeding Malayan tigers is very difficult, and these were the first born in a European zoo since 2013. There are only 200 to 400 Malayan tigers still alive in the wild.

The 14th cape fur seal was born May 26, a male named Nelson. His parents are 14-year-old Abeba and 15-year-old Meloun. Nelson is the grandson of Gaston, the famous sea lion who swam all the way to Germany during the 2002 floods and sadly died of exhaustion after being rescued. His son Meloun was just two months old at the time.

The only palm cockatoo bred in 2017 in a European zoo and the very first naturally bred one in a Czech or Slovak zoo hatched April 20. The parents of the baby bird were illegally kept animals confiscated by the Czech Environmental Inspectorate and later transferred to the Prague Zoo.

As in previous years, air transport of Przewalski's horses took place from Prague Zoo to the Gobi B National Park in Mongolia. The species was driven to extinction in the wild and until recently could only be found in captivity. Prague Zoo is also active in saving the Mongolian saiga, which is also critically endangered.

In 2017, a new technical building was built in the upper part of the zoo, replacing old workshops in the floodplain. The renovation of the Gaston restaurant, which will open at the start of the 2018 high season, was completed. Construction continued on the Rákos pavilion, which has already been planted with vegetation.

In the first half of the year, architectural competitions took place setting out the new exhibition spaces for both polar bears and for giant pandas. The zoo hopes to acquire pandas from China. Progress has been made in preparing a new gorilla pavilion. Building permits can be expected in the near future.

In August the zoo introduced five donation terminals so people can use a bank card to give money specifically to help endangered species including Przewalski's horses, lowland gorillas, gharials and the Laotian rock rat.

In September, Prague Zoo was named the fifth best zoo in the world by travel website TripAdvisor. The ranking is based on visitor reviews. The zoo took fourth place in 2015 and seventh place in 2014; no ranking was published in 2016.

The zoo became entirely a no smoking area in 2017 as well. A new Park and Ride lot opened in July to help make the zoo more accessible, as parking has long been insufficient.

The bad news of the year is that the footbridge linking Troja, where the zoo is located, to the park Stromovka collapsed in early December. It has been replaced by a ferry until a new footbridge can be built.

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