Old Town tree eaten by elephants

With the Christmas season over, the city’s main tree has been recycled at the zoo

The last of the holiday markets have closed, and the ornaments are all being removed from the city for another 11 months. Three Kings Day on Jan. 6 saw the last of the holiday activity.

The 22-meter-tall spruce tree that was in Old Town Square has been taken down and broken into smaller pieces.

The branches and needles were taken to Prague Zoo and fed to elephants, wisents, bison, and camels, who look on it as a treat.

The tree grew in the open air near the Berounka river in Roztoky u Křivoklátu in the Rakovník district of Central Bohemia. It was beginning to interfere with power cables and needed to be cut down anyway.

Each year the firm Taiko, the organizer of the Christmas market at Old Town Square, looks for a tree that is already scheduled to be removed, so the impact on the environment is minimized.

Giving the tree to the zoo after the market closes is a form of recycling.

Prague Zoo also received 700 trees this year that were not sold and had no further use. The stock of spruce branches and trees is enough to feed the zoo animals for two weeks, and visitors can watch some of the feedings.

The zoo’s baby elephants, Max and Rudi, particularly enjoyed eating some of the trees.

The trees are in addition to food that people brought to the zoo over Christmas. Some 2 tons of food was collected on Dec. 24, including fresh and dried fruit, vegetables, nuts and certain baked goods. 

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 the second-highest ever. Some 1,445,126 visited, only 3,227 visitors behind in the record year of 2016.

In April 2017, the zoo welcomed its 60 millionth visitor since it opened on Sept. 28, 1931.

The zoo last year saw the births of 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.

Two critically endangered Malayan tiger cubs were born Oct. 3 to 11-year-old female tiger Banya and 10-year-old male Johann. 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 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.

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.

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