Zoo hopes to build new places for polar bears and pandas

A competition for new enclosures will be announced, but a panda is not yet certain

Prague Zoo is planning to announce architectural competitions for spaces for polar bears and giant pandas. The arctic pavilion should create a suitable climate for polar bears and seals in the northwest part of the zoo. At the site of the current facility for polar bears the zoo plans to build a space for giant pandas, if they can get the animals.

Prague Zoo director Miroslav Bobek said the current polar bear enclosure is more than 80 years old and is completely unsatisfactory and faces south, which is not ideal for polar bears as it exposes them to too much direct sunlight without shade.

Acquiring a giant panda would require cooperation from the Chinese government. If the zoo were to be able to get a giant panda, it would build a new facility to house it in cooperation with the Prague municipal government. For the zoo to get the endangered animal would require a formal request from the Czech president or prime minister.

Current expenditures at the zoo include restoring the historical restaurant Gaston, and then completing a pavilion for exotic birds. The latter has already had its rough construction finished at a cost of some Kč 28 million. Another project is an enclosure for Australian fauna, which could be finished in 2018.

The opening date of a pavilion for gorillas has been pushed back due to disputes with the Troja district, where the zoo is located. It could open in 2019 or 2020, Bobek said.

The new polar bear enclosure, called Artikada, could open in the same time frame. The panda enclosure could open in 2021, Bobek said, adding that the dates were optimistic.

The gorilla enclosure was designed not to disturb the landscape and surroundings of the Fata Morgana greenhouse in Troja. It should cost some Kč 121 million. The local government of Troja opposes its construction. Concerns are that it will interfere with the natural landscape of the park and also cause parking problems.

The current gorilla enclosure is at the lowest part of the zoo and cannot be protected in case of flooding from the Vltava river. The proposed place would offer better protection to the gorillas, Bobek said.

In the next five years the zoo plans to invest some Kč 838.6 million. The city will also address better parking. Tram lines to the new pavilions at the zoo have also been proposed.

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