Prague Zoo had third-highest attendance

The zoo saw several milestones during the year including over 1,300 births

Prague Zoo had a very good year, but fell short of breaking the all-time attendance record.

Attendance in 2018 exceeded 1.4 million people for the third time and reached 1,427,491 visitors, the third highest total ever. The record was in 2016 with 1,448,353, while 2017 had 1,445,126.

Still, this was an unexpected success due to the high summer temperatures and the absence of the Stromovka footbridge, which collapsed at the end of 2017.

The bridge is the main pedestrian access from Prague 7 to the zoo. It has been replaced temporarily by a ferry until a new bridge can be built.

The zoo was once again rated fifth best in the world by the travel website TripAdvisor, based on user reviews. It had been ranked as high as fourth in 2015.

The zoo was also successful in breeding last year with 1,340 babies from 219 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.

Prague Zoo compiled a list of the most significant events of the year.

At the start of the main season in 2018, the fully renovated Gaston restaurant opened, with 70 indoor seats and 230 at the outdoor terrace. The restaurant is named for the sea lion who died in the 2002 floods after attempting to swim back to the sea. The building is designed to be more flood resistant and cost some Kč 56 million.

In July, the construction began on an exhibition area that will present Australian and Tasmanian wildlife, including the Tasmanian devil. A competition for a new gorilla pavilion was announced in December.

One of the breeding successes was a Javan green magpie, which is highly endangered with fewer than 100 left in the wild. The chick was raised with a hand puppet that looked like an adult magpie so it would not become too attached to humans. The zoo cooperates with the Silent Forest campaign to protect song birds in Southeast Asia.

The zoo also ran an advertising campaign drawing attention to the rare animals it has, and its various international efforts to save specific species.

The eighth air transport of Przewalski's horses from the Czech Republic to a protected area in western Mongolia was successful, and the number of transported horses rose to 31. A memorandum of cooperation was also concluded between Prague Zoo and the Mongolian Ministry of Environment and Tourism. The zoo also supported projects in Cameroon, India, the Balkans, Vietnam and Indonesia.

The zoo also saw several significant births. Among these were another aardvark, four cheetahs, a silver gibbon and a red panda.

The panda’s mother was very protective, and it took four months to determine the baby was male. Its name is now Flin.

The zoo’s African Pavilion also exhibited the world’s smallest mammal, the Etruscan shrew, which when full grown is just 5 centimeters long and weighs 1.8 grams. The shrew’s main diet is crickets.

Sad news in the year included the death of the hippo Slávek, who was 34 years old, he had become one of the symbols of the zoo after surviving the 2002 floods despite being trapped in his pavilion.

Other accomplishments in 2018 were more technical. The zoo switched to compostable dishes and utensils, which will be composted along with food waste at the zoo. Some 800,000 plates are used each year.

The zoo will also be giving more money to its projects to save endangered species. From every entry fee, Kč 3 will go to projects, as opposed to the previous Kč 2.

Finally, the zoo hosted a major internationla conference in October, with 610 specialists from 52 counties. The Joint EAZWV/AAZV/Leibniz-IZW Zoo and Wildlife Health Conference covered topics ranging from medical advances to ethical treatment of animals.

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. The zoo opened opened on Sept. 28, 1931.

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