Prague Zoo raising parking fees

Officials hope more people will use public transportation

The popularity of Prague Zoo has been growing from year to year, and it is the city's second-most popular attraction. But not only is the size of the parking lot the same as it was in the past, more people are driving there in cars.

To encourage people to use public transportation more, the zoo will soon be raising the parking rate to Kč 200 per day for cars. Currently it is Kč 100.

As of May 1, prices will go up on weekends and public holidays, but in July and August it will apply to weekdays as well. The price of the annual pass, which allows for parking on 12 days, will also go up from Kč 600 to Kč 900.

The lot has long been inadequate, and the entire Troja neighborhood often becomes congested with zoo visitors' cars. Last summer, cars had to be diverted from the area several times to other neighborhoods.

Zoo director Miroslav Bobek said the zoo has to address the problem. One solution is to discourage parking by making it more expensive. He also said there were more options to reach the zoo than buses. There is also a ferry that goes there.

The zoo is trying to make more parking spaces in some areas, but the results will be limited and not enough to meet even the current demand.

There are also plans to increase parking near the Blanka Tunnel, which has an entrance close to the zoo. This has been tested but is not in operation yet, and City Hall now says that the Blanka lot will be in a different location altogether and not where it had been tested. The groundwork for a new lot is just being made, so it will be some time before it is ready.

The zoo would like to see a tram connection that leads to the northern part of the zoo, but that is also in the far future. Zoo director Bobek said he would like to see it completed before the 100th anniversary of the zoo, which would be in 2031.

The zoo recently welcomed its 60 millionth visitor since it opened 86 years ago. His name was Vlastimil Čermák and he was from Prague. He said he comes every year and he likes the elephants and giraffes. It was in 1975 that the saw saw its 25 millionth visitor. In 1931, when it opened just 20,000 people visited. Last year that grew to 1,448,353 people in a single year.

Prague Zoo was ranked the fourth-best in the world by users of the travel site TripAdvisor in July 2015, beaten only by zoos in San Diego, California; Puerto de la Cruz, Spain; and Singapore.

Aside from two baby elephants born in 2016, other births last year included an aardvark, a giraffe, a gorilla, a viper, a rare giant rat and a rare African openbill. The zoo saw a total of 1,191 juveniles in 223 species. The zoo also has been drawing crowds to see rare lions that it acquired at the end of 2015.

Prague Zoo opened in 1931. It 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.

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