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Prague Zoo (Prague, Czech Republic)

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Prague Zoo is a zoo in Prague, Czech Republic. It was founded in 1931 with the goal to "advance the study of zoology, protect wildlife, and educate the public" in the district of Troja in the north of Prague. The zoo occupies 45 hectares (111 acres) and houses about 4,600 animals that represent 630 species from all around the world. Prague Zoological Garden has contributed significantly to saving the Przewalski horse. For many years it was the biggest breeder of the species in the world.

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      29.01.2013 19:33
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      How Big???

      As always, when I go on holiday, we try and visit as many animals places as possible while I am there. With being a massive animal lover, one of the places I definitely wanted to visit while on holiday in Prague was Prague Zoo. I am still undecided on how I feel about zoo's as I believe wild animals should be allowed to be wild. One of the reasons we were keen to visit Prague zoo was because there are heavily involved in conservation work and I believe that this is vital to help many of the animals which are becoming endangered. Location Prague zoo is located a few miles outside of Prague City Centre so you will need to use public transport to get there. We asked directions from the tourist information centre and were told to take a tram, and then a bus in order to reach the zoo. All in all, the journey probably took about 20 minutes and we found the directions and public transport systems extremely easy to use. Opening Hours The zoo is open all year round by the times vary according to what time of year you visit. The opening times are as follows: March - 9am - 5pm April, May, September & October - 9am - 6pm June, July & August - 9am - 7pm November - February - 9am - 4pm Price The admission costs depend on what time of year you visit the zoo. High season in Prague runs from April to September and prices are as follows: Children 0-3 years - Free Children 3-15 years - 60kc - roughly £1.65 Students - 60kc - roughly £1.65 Adult - 100kc - roughly £2.75 Dog - 20kc - roughly £0.55 Low season in Prague runs from October to March and admission costs for low season are as follows: Children 0-3 years - Free Children 3-15 years - 40kc - roughly £1.10 Students - 40kc - roughly £1.10 Adult - 60kc - roughly £1.65 Dog - 20kc - roughly £0.55 As you pay at the ticket office, there is a chance to buy a map of the zoo. The maps cost 5kc which is roughly about 15p so they are well worth the money. We didn't actually buy one and there are plenty of maps around the park on large signposts but if I were to visit to zoo again, then I would buy one just to make things a bit easier. The zoo is so large, you definitely need a map!! About Prague Zoo Prague Zoo was first opened in 1931 and only accepted visitors at the weekend. In 1931, the zoo only held 100 animals. Since then, the zoo has changed massively and now holds 4500 animals and is spread across 60 hectares of land. The zoo is split into various sections, with many different zones based on the origin of the animals, i.e. all the animals from Africa in one section, animals from Indonesia in another section. In 2002, on August 14th, Prague Zoo was seriously flooded with some parts being up to ten metres under the water. A massive evacuation was carried out but sadly many animals still died. However, many of the animals were successfully evacuated and saved including elephants, tigers and hundreds of birds just to name a few. The floods of 2002 raised concerns over whether the zoo should be opened again but the public voted in favour of this decision and 20 million Czech crowns were raised to help towards restoration and building costs. The Zoo is split into sections and I will give a brief description of the main sections. Please note that there are more sections than the one which I am going to mention but I am going to outline the main sections that I think are of more interest to anyone wanting to visit the zoo, and obviously the sections that myself and my fiancée enjoyed the most. The Lower Level The lower level of the zoo holds most of the birds which can be seen at the zoo. There are literally hundreds of different species of birds which include eagles, hornbills, vultures, budgies, penguins and flamingos just to name a few. The first section we visited upon entering the zoo, was the Penguin enclosure. There was an indoor and outdoor section to this which was totally surrounded by glass, meaning visitors get a perfect view of the penguins. The enclosure was large, with lots of little caves for the penguins to go in, as well as several pools for them to swim in. One this I really liked about this enclosure was that you can view the penguins underwater which was a lovely experience. You can see them above and below the water through the glass and we spent quite a bit of time just watching them swimming and grooming themselves. Next to the penguin section, is the sea lion enclosure. This is very similar to the penguin enclosure as again, you can view them above and below the water. However, you actually need to go underground to view them under the water and we thought the entrance to this was quite well hidden so make sure you keep your eyes open for it! The sea lions had a large swimming area as well as rocks for resting on and then even had a slide which we saw them using! Along from here are the many species of birds. Some of the first species we saw included vultures, birds of prey and flamingos. The enclosures vary in size, for example, the flamingos had a very large grassy areas with several ponds but the Eagles had an aviary which I felt could have been a bit bigger, although having said that, they still had natural enclosure with trees inside the aviary so they still had plenty of room to fly freely. You can follow the pathways and view all the various species of birds which are either side of the pathway. Also along the lower section of the zoo, there is the Farm Area where you can see animals such as goats, pigs, horses and chickens. These animals all had fields to roam and a stable area full of straw. As we visited in December (which was quite chilly) many of the animals were snuggled up in the straw. The goats managed to drag themselves away from their beds and came over to say hello. There are some machines located in this area where you can buy food for the farm animals which you can feed to them by hand. Next, was the Gorilla House. Outside, there is a large grassy area with several wooden climbing frames and ropes. There is also an inside area with glass viewing panels where you can literally stand next to the Gorilla's (with the glass separating you). I really liked this section as you can get so close to the animals and view them interacting with one another. In the indoor area, there is a video which plays giving you information about the Gorillas kept at the zoo and information about Gorilla's in general. There were at least 4 baby gorilla's in the enclosure which goes to show that the zoo must be doing something right, to have the Gorilla's breeding here. Next up were the reptile sections. Many different species of reptiles can be seen here and the enclosure is a walk through one, where you enter through a door into a warm and tropical environment. The area you walk through is dark, with the reptile enclosure being brightly lit. I really liked this idea as it means that the reptiles are not really bothered by the visitors as they cant see them in the dark and I felt that this provided a fairly natural enclosure for them. I was very impressed with the reptile enclosures as they were absolutely massive with each enclosure decorated to the style of where the animal comes from i.e. the Bearded Dragons had a desert style enclosure and the Chameleons had a tropical rainforest style enclosure. The enclosures were so clean and while we were walking through, we noticed them being cleaned out again even though they seemed spotless to us so it seemed that they take great care of the animals. Reptiles that can be seen include varieties of lizards, snakes and tortoises. The Pavillion of Big Cats was next and here you can see a variety of big cats such as Lion's, Tiger's and Leopards. Again, this is a walk through section with glass viewing panels. Personally, I felt that this section could have been much larger than it was. The animals, particularly the big cats, were in rather small concrete enclosures. However, because of the cold weather, the animals were shut away from their roaming area outside so we couldn't actually see what sort of area this covered. I did feel that if the animals need to be shut away in the cold weather then the enclosures need to be enlarged and have more natural surroundings such as logs, trees etc which I felt that the indoor enclosures lacked. Having said that though, there were two baby Tigers which were play fighting with one another which I thoroughly enjoyed watching. I believe that the zoo must be doing something right to have the animals breeding here but as an animal lover this certainly was one of my least favourite parts as I left feeling sad that the big cats didn't seem to have much room. The Cheetahs were a different story though, we actually got to see them in their roaming area which consisted of a fairly large field with trees and logs inside. We saw one Cheetah who was stalking down a hill on the side of his enclosure. I have to say that all the big cats looked healthy, with healthy coats and bright eyes despite my feeling that the enclosures could have been bigger. The Pavillion of Big Mammals holds the Elephants and Hippos. The elephants had a large enclosure which consisted of several fields which were sectioned off. I assume this was to keep certain elephants apart. As well as having the fields, the elephants also had a sand play area where the keepers take them to do activities such as moving logs which the elephants really seemed to enjoy. We only saw the Hippos in their indoor enclosure (that's assuming they had an outdoor section) and I felt that this was definitely too small for the three Hippo's it housed. I have covered the main areas of the lower section of the zoo so now we will move on the upper section. The Upper Section There are just as many animals to see in the Upper section as there is in the lower section, if not more. In the upper section there is the African experience, the Malaysian Jungle and the Creepy Crawly section to name a few. The Malaysian Jungle section is definitely one that I would recommend. The enclosure is very similar to the Eden Project in Cornwall with a hug walk in, rather tropical environment. The enclosure was very natural and the pathways are literally how you would imagine it would be to walk through the jungle with loads of trees and vegetation. There are several species of birds that fly freely in here. As you walk through the pathways, there are information boards providing you with details of the animals and Indonesia, however, these signs were in Czech so we were unable to read them. Monkey's and Gibbons can be seen in here and they all have climbing areas and lots of room to play. The land on which the animals reside if surrounded by water and you can see Turtles swimming around in here too. As you exit this section, you will find that it leads through to a very dark section where you can view all the animals that come out when the sun goes down. The enclosures themselves are very dark too so we did have a job to spot the animals but I liked the fact that the enclosures were kept dark to simulate the natural environments of the animals. In here, you can see Bats, a selection of Australian animals and many more. I really enjoyed watching the Otters in the upper section. They had a large enclosure and you could view them above and below the water. The otters were lovely and almost seemed to enjoy the visitors watching them, as you went over, they made a high pitched noise and came over to the side of the enclosure to pop their heads out and see what you wanted. In the African experience section you can see deer, antelopes, giraffes and Meer cats just to name a few. This section is massive and covers a large area of the zoo. The giraffes had a field which must have covered at least 2 acres which was lovely to see in comparison to the smaller enclosures of the big cats. From here, you can see large mammals such as Bison, Moose and a selection of deer. There were many animals but to be honest, I saw so many that day that I lost track of what they were called. At the highest point of the zoo, you can see the large birds such as Ostriches. There were other large exotic looking birds although sadly I can not remember what they were called. One of the larger enclosures housed the Przelwalski horse and Prague Zoo plays a large role in the conservation of these beautiful animals. Over 200 of them have been bred here with some of them being released back to their native environment in the Gobi desert. Next is the Wolf section which again was very large. There were probably about 30 wolves and they all seemed very happy. The enclosure had large rocks and logs for them to climb on. Following on from here, you will find yourself walking down a winding path where you can see hyena's (again with a large enclosure) and you can also see the Zebras in their massive field. The zebra's were fascinating to watch as they were playing with one another and galloping across their field. Finally, on your way down from the upper section, you can see the Polar Bears. I was really looking forward to this as I have never seen Polar Bears before. There are two enclosures with a Polar Bear in each. The enclosure consisted of layers of rocks, with each layer taking the Bear up higher. There was also a swimming area and a waterfall in each enclosure. Although I wouldn't exactly describe the enclosures as small, I still felt they could have been a lot bigger considering the size of the Polar Bears. I also felt that the Polar Bear didn't seem very happy as he just paced around an awful lot. I must admit that I left this section feeling a little disappointed and sad. Facilities There is a number of restaurants and cafés which are dotted around the zoo, meaning that you are never very far away from one. There is a main restaurant just inside the entrance which is pretty big with lots of seating area. The food wasn't anything special, a self service buffet, but it was extremely cheap and still tasted good. This was the only restaurant that was open when we visited as it was low season. We ate here and between us we had a plate of chips, chicken and chips, two deserts and two hot drinks and the whole meal came to under a fiver which we thought was very reasonable. There are plenty of toilets which are spread out across the zoo. The toilets are free to use which is a rarity is Prague and we found them to be very clean. There was also a gift shop which sold al the usual souvenirs such as magnets, cups and cuddly toys. Cable Ride Visitors can take advantage of the Cable Ride within the zoo. The cable ride runs from the lower section of the zoo, to the upper section and saves you to walk to the top. There is a charge for using it but I am unsure what this is as this was closed when we visited as it was low season. Extra Info I was amazed to see that dogs are allowed into the zoo, although they do have to be kept on leads. There are several drinking areas for the dogs, near to the facilities for the visitors. In certain sections, you are not allowed to take the dogs inside, for example, in the Indonesian Jungle section but there are areas outside where you can clip your dogs lead and pick them up when you finish. Summary Overall, I was impressed with this zoo. Although I felt that the larger mammals such as the Hippos and Polar Bears could have had more room, the other enclosures were perfect, clean, natural and large. I liked the fact that as far as possible, the enclosure were natural, with many of them being made from natural materials. I liked the fact that care had been taken to ensure each animals had an enclosure which simulated their natural environments. One down side was that pretty much all the signs were in Czech but I don't expect to visit foreign countries and have everything in English so this wasn't a problem, it just would have been nice to see the English names for some of the animals. Prague Zoo is possibly the largest Zoo I have ever visited. The zoo was only open until 4pm when we visited and we found that we couldn't look at the whole zoo in one day. In total, we spent 10 hours, spread across two days at the Zoo and to be honest, if it was warmer, we would have spent much longer here. I would highly recommend a trip to Prague zoo but you really do need a whole day, if not two to see it in its entirety.

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        08.05.2010 16:24
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        One of the best days out you can have in Prague!

        Prague Zoo was built in 1931 in the Troja region of Prague. Within the 45 hectares, you'll find around 4600 animals. What you see also represents a miracle of human endeavour. When the Vtlava burst its banks in 2001, Prague faced the worst floods it has ever faced. The zoo was near enough decimated and the damage suffered was immense, with many animals unfortunately paying the ultimate price. As well as this, a lot of the enclosures were destroyed. Photos are on display and I recommend taking some time out to view them and to consider both how devastating the flood was and how much effort has gone into restoring it. Without these photos, you'd be unable to guess that such a tragedy had ever occurred. You should plan to spend the better part of a day here. We were there for around 6 hours and we didn't see everything! The variety of species on display is quite immense (around 630). Despite its grand scale, everything is well mapped and easy to find. I like visits to attractions to provide me with something I've never seen before and this certainly happened when we viewed an elephant making and then throwing snowballs with its trunk. This was an amazing sight that I'll probably never see again! The animals seem content here. Some zoos can seem a little depressing but even in the snow and negative temperatures, they all seemed happy, especially the polar bears! Getting to the zoo is easy enough. The bus costs 26CZK each way (just under a pound) but a multi day travel pass will cover this journey. A travel pass, incidentally, is the best purchase you'll make whilst in Prague. Buy it at the airport to cover your bus trip to your hotel too. It's bus 112 and it drops you off at the gates. Entry costs 150CZK for adults and 100CZK for children (around £5 and £3.50). A family pass can also be bought covering 2 adults and 2 children for 450CZK (around £15). As you can see, this represents excellent value for money! Children aged 3 or less can enter for free. Opening hours: March: 9.00 - 17.00 April, May, September, October: 9.00 - 18.00 June, July, August: 9.00 - 19.00 November, December, January, February: 9.00 - 16.00 There are also a few cafes and places to get drinks and snacks, all at very reasonable prices. Prague Zoo is probably the best zoo I have ever visited. You'll be guaranteed a great day out!

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        12.05.2007 22:29
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        A must visit attraction while in Prague.

        Prague Zoo is situated a few miles outside the city centre itself and can be reached via the tube line C to Holesovice and then by bus 112. The bus itself can be quite an ordeal as it gets absolutely packed with passengers and reminded me more of transport in Asia than anywhere else! Thankfully it is only a few kilometres to the park entrance. Prague Zoo has changed enormously since 1931 when it opened. Back then there were only 8 hectares, and less than 100 animals, and visitors could only enter the zoo at weekends. Nowadays the Zoo receives over one million visitors a year, visiting over 4500 animals in over 60 hectares of land and the zoo is open daily (and until 7pm in summer). A visit to the zoo will certainly require the best part of a day if you want to see as many animals as possible. Entrance Fee is a very affordable 100 CZK per adult (40 CZK = £1) making this excellent value for money for a day’s outing. There are of course cheaper tickets for families and concessionaries. I strongly recommend you splash out a further 5 CZK on the Zoo “Orientation Map” available at the ticket kiosk as this will enable you to plan your journey among the zoo’s pathways – with a zoo this size, it would be very easy to miss sections and you don’t want to be disappointed. The Zoo itself is situated right on the River Vltava and the site itself is reasonably steep, however as the main entrance is mid way up the slope then it makes sense to go to the higher levels first (another good reason to get a map!), then make your way downhill towards the river. There is a small cable car which will take you up the steepest sections, as well as a small train – although we didn’t use either and walked instead. There are a number of pavilions within the zoo and the Indonesian Jungle, situated near the entrance is a recent addition, from around 2004. Enclosed within a huge biome type structure (think Eden Project) the Indonesian Jungle is home to various types of monkeys and gibbons, flying foxes, komodo dragons and flora and fauna from the region. It is useful to enter the Jungle early on in your visit, as it is very warm and humid. It was very hot on our recent trip to Prague, and as we arrived at the zoo late morning, and stayed until around 4pm, we did notice that many animals were sheltering from the suns heat and we were not able to see quite as many creatures as we would have liked – at the same time understanding that the animals clearly have more sense than humans for escaping the mid-day sun! The Polar bear home was our next port of call. Here I felt that the concrete “cell” was no place for a polar bear, and certainly not in the heat of the day. I also felt the bear was pacing a little, which didn’t seem fair on her. There is water and a waterfall which helps to keep them cool, but if I ever thought an animal was out of place in a zoo it was this one. The Africa Closely pavilion is another fairly recent addition and is home to 50 different species of mammals, amphibians and creepy crawlies. Across the road and into “The Americas” and the exhibitions are more open here. I enjoyed watching the Canadian Otters swim, very elegantly before exploring the whole upper area of the zoo which is the home to the largest mammals, including wolves, antelopes, moose, camels, bison, prairie dogs, and the beautiful leopards and tigers. It must be mentioned that Prague Zoo has had a pivotal role in saving the Przelwalski horse and over 200 have been bread here with some released back to the Gobi desert. The lower half of the zoo is home to the many birds species as well as smaller mammals. There are also a number of pavilions in this section, including the Pavilion of Big Cats, Pavilion of Penguins, Pavilion of Big Tortoises and the Pavilion of Big Mammals. While I enjoyed most of these, and in particular the penguins and the adjoining sealions, the Pavilion of Big Mammals left me with the same feelings as I had with the polar bear earlier, a little saddened by the concrete homes for these magnificent creatures (elephants and hippos). The beautiful ring tailed lemurs have a new home, and compared to the size of the animal, it felt that the large animals were a little hard done by. There were a number of restaurants around the Zoo, and while these were all of the fast food variety, it was extremely cheap fast food. If possible, it would be nice to take a packed lunch, especially if you want something a little more wholesome, but at least you will not be ripped off financially. From 1030 until 1630 during summer, there are various “feeding times” and meetings at different pavilions across the zoo. We only managed to see a couple of these, and it would need a little bit of careful planning at the start of the day to ensure you were in the correct part of the zoo at the right time, so it might be better just to go with the flow unless there is something you would particularly like to see. Prague Zoo suffered in the horrendous floods in 2002, when the Vltava broke its banks. Over 1000 animals had to be evacuated and over 100 were killed in the flood waters, including many birds. While there is still evidence of the floods, the zoo has for the large part recovered from this natural disaster. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the day at the Zoo, and feels like it has a lot to offer, particularly for families. The fact that the zoo was opened in the 1930s was evident in some of the enclosures, and this did leave us thinking about the role of zoos in our society – they were made for our enjoyment, although have a role in protecting endangered species also. However I felt that some of the enclosures still need some development to provide a better home for some of the creatures, particularly the larger mammals. Overall recommended 8/10.

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          08.05.2006 11:44
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          Well worth a visit if you have afull day to spare!

          ++ Introduction ++ Prague Zoo was first opened to the public in 1931; probably before the flood of 2002 few people knew of its existence. Many of you will remember the shocking floods in central Prague in the summer of 2002. The news pictures showed the famous Charles Bridge almost totally submerged. Much of the focus of attention was however centred on Prague Zoo which is situated to the north west of Prague just metres away from the banks of the River Vlatava. Prague Zoo was well and truly put on the world map overnight because of the flood. TV images of the rescue attempts of hundreds of animals and birds were watched avidly around the globe. The flood of August 14th 2002 brought chaos to Prague Zoo. Some parts of the zoo were 10m deep in water. Many animals died as a result; some 134 drowned or died later from stress including many birds, an elephant, two hippos, a lion, a seal and a gorilla. A huge evacuation project had to be carried out to move 1029 animals that were affected by the flood. This included elephants, hippos, birds, big cats and more. Many buildings were also completely destroyed. Public debate began as to whether or not the zoo should ever be re-opened. However the public voted positively, raising 20 million Czech crowns to help restore and re-build the Zoo. Four years on, the Zoo is thriving once again. This review is not on the rights and wrongs of whether zoos should exist at all, but on my experience of visiting the zoo. There is so much to write about Prague Zoo, so this review may be a little lengthy. It is split into sections, feel free to skip any that don't interest you. ++ Our trip to the zoo ++ On a recent three and a bit day short break to Prague with hubby and our four kids, we decided to spend some time visiting the zoo, more as a break from urban sight seeing than anything else. We expected the zoo to be quite minor and perhaps to occupy around half a day of our stay. However, we were in for a pleasant surprise. We visited in mid April, the weather was perfect for a zoo trip, a warm and sunny 17 degrees. In mid summer the heat would probably make the zoo trip a lot more uncomfortable. There is always a lot of walking to be done in a zoo, unless of course you are being chauffeured in a wheelchair or a pushchair. ++ Getting there ++ There are several options here. You can get to Prague Zoo by a variety of modes of transport : ## On foot. It would take a good hour or more to walk from central Prague, but a lot of this can be done through an urban park. However as you will be spending a lot of time walking around the zoo, I would not recommend walking there and back. If you are staying on the zoo side of the city, walking may be worth considering. ## By Metro and Bus. Public transport in Prague is very cheap (20 Czech crowns (Kc) per adult, 10 Kc for children aged 6+). This is equivalent to around 50p and 25p respectively and will allow you to travel on bus, tram or underground metro for 90 minutes. We caught two metros to Nádraží Holešovice and then the number 112 bus to the zoo. The journey took around 40 minutes in total including a 5 minute wait for a bus. It was not a difficult journey but we had no pushchairs, babies or toddlers to cope with. There are many steps required for access to the underground metro. ## By car. If you wish to experience the rather Italian style driving antics of the Czech people, you could always hire a Skoda (the majority of cars on the road). Mad doesn't begin to describe driving in Prague. If you like the thrill of driving 6 inches from the car behind and in front, then you might like to hire a car but I definitely would not recommend it unless you have nerves of steel. There are plenty of car parking spaces at the zoo. ## By Taxi. Probably a good option if you have pushchairs and young children. ++ Entry costs ++ Having only spent approximately £2 on transport to the zoo (for six of us), we were expecting to have to dig deeper to gain entry to the zoo. April - September is high season and entry costs are: Child 0-3 years Free Child 3-15 years & students 60 Kc Adult 90 Kc Family (2+2) 270 Kc Dog (!) 20 Kc Map 5 Kc In the low season (October - March) these prices are reduced to 40 Kc for children, 60 Kc for adults and 200 Kc for a family ticket. Our entry ticket for 6 cost just 390Kc which is around £10! You might get one child ticket at an English zoo for the same price. So far so good! The zoo is open daily at 0900 hours and closes, depending on the season, between 1600 and 1900 hours. ++ First Impressions ++ Looking at the map of the zoo we suddenly realized that the zoo is huge and there would be loads of animals to see including penguins, giraffes, tigers, elephants and bears. At the entrance there was a café with a large area of outdoor seating and an ice cream kiosk. We bought some drinks as it was hot and found them to be pretty reasonably priced. Bottled drinks (0.5l) were 30 Kc (around 70p) and take away lattes the equivalent of 50p. (Nice as well)! A quick look at the map showed us this was not the only eating place and that there were several refreshment areas scattered around the zoo. We also spotted from the map that the zoo was on two levels. The lower level where we entered was fairly flat and very close to the fast flowing river Vlatava; the upper level was significantly higher and could be accessed via cable cars or a reasonably long walk up a windy path. ++ Animals on the lower level ++ Prague Zoo is home to many species of birds and animals. On the lower level there are huge enclosures for many different varieties of birds including vultures, eagles and parrots. In some of the cages you were allowed to enter the enclosures which would allow you easier access for photography. I personally preferred to give this a miss! Penguins and impressive flamingos were amongst the first animals we saw. The penguins were easy to see through a camera lens without annoying fences in the way. Throughout the zoo we found this to be the case when photographing most of the animals. The enclosures were spacious and there was good visibility without too many imposing walls, fences or glass viewing panels. However, the penguins were fascinating and we spent a good while watching them. Also on the lower level were tapirs, antelopes, pelicans, monkeys, lemurs, small cats including jaguars, red pandas, gorillas, giant tortoises, hippos, elephants, lots more birds and more animals that I can't remember. Particularly worth a visit on the lower level is the new gorilla house. There is a large outdoor area with grassy banks and ropes and tyre play areas as you would find in most zoos, as well as a large indoor area with glass viewing panels. Here you can readily watch the gorillas interact with each other. There was a specialist to hand to chat to the tourists but only useful if you speak Czech! Interestingly, a Big Brother style reality broadcast on Radio Leonardo began in November 2005 featuring gorillas not humans. The gorillas that take part in this show are named Jodi and Chantelle (oops wrong channel); Richard, Shinda, Kamba, Kijivu and Moja. The aim of the reality programme is to raise money for the adoption of four gorillas which are in a conservation station in Cameroon where they have been rescued from poachers and are awaiting release back into the wild. This is one of the main conservation projects being carried out through Prague Zoo. The reality show allows viewers to vote for their favourite gorilla. The prize for the winner is 12 melons; the slang in Czech for plural melons is melouni which also means millions! On December 13th 2004, the first baby gorilla to be born in the Czech republic arrived and was named Mojo. It is thought that Mojo is a girl but apparently it is very hard to tell the sex of a gorilla without carrying out a DNA test. He/she still seemed pretty small and very cute as we looked on. It was fascinating to watch one of the adult gorillas peering through the admin office window which backs onto the gorilla house. Our eldest remarked how human they seemed as he watched one picking something from his bits. There are also walk-through enclosures on the lower level housing reptiles such as snakes and iguanas. Another houses a good collection of giant tortoises. Also on the lower level are the elephants and hippos. The elephants have a large area which includes a series of steps because the area is not on one level. There is a walkway around the edge which allows you great access to watch the elephants and take photographs. At 1445 hours, in the summer months, there is opportunity to watch the elephants being bathed. Unfortunately we were visiting the African section on the upper level at this time so we missed it. In fact, sadly, we missed all of the feeding events (and there were loads). Actually no, we did see the owls being fed dead mice but this isn't even on the feeding schedule. You have to plan your zoo route very carefully if you wish to be in the right place at the right time to catch the feeding times! A baby hippo has just been born (April 21st) in the Zoo, we missed this as well by just a few days! ++ The Upper Level ++ Near the main entrance is a windy path which takes you up to the upper level of the zoo. This can also be reached by cable car. This is very much like a ski lift and only takes a couple of minutes to reach the top level. For those who suffer from vertigo, you may wish to walk up instead as the ascent is steep and you have only a loose chain over your waist as a rather flimsy effort at security. Young children are allowed to sit with an adult for the ride up but if you have a wriggly toddler you may feel this a little too scary. The cable car requires the purchase of a ticket and you will need low value Czech crowns for this. A ticket machine is located near to the base of the cable car ride. I think it cost 20 crowns for adults (roughly 50p) and children 10 crowns (approx 25p). Great views going up but don't look down if you don't like heights! At the top of the cable car you jump off at low speed, helped by a person at the top. From here you can turn left or right to explore the animals on the upper level. This level incorporates the African experience, the Malaysian jungle and many other animals including tigers, antelope, elks, wolves, hyenas, bison and owls. The enclosures of most of the animals are a field in themselves so walking around this upper level is quite a long one if you want to see everything. We missed out a bit in the middle as there are a large variety of deer/ antelope/ horse /bison / 4 legged creatures which all seem a much of a muchness when you're in need of another coffee or ice cream. The moose or elks are worth a look though, such strange looking creatures! A trip to the far north of the zoo for the African experience is also worthwhile. Here I was hoping to see giraffes wandering around safari style but unfortunately they were all in the indoor section. You could still get a good look at them through the glass. Zebra could be spotted in the vast expanse of field. Here also the Surikaty (which I think translates as mere cats) were fascinating to watch close up. Walking back towards the main entrance we then passed the otters and then saw the polar bear(s). I only spotted one and it was the only animal that looked sad to be in the zoo, pacing up and down a stretch of his enclosure. There was a lot of space and water but he didn't look happy. After this, we went into the Indonesian jungle; a large glass house, very similar in style to the Eden project glass houses in Cornwall. On entry you find yourself in the midst of canoe style boats carved from tree trunks surrounded by loads of information on Indonesia (which we couldn't read as it was in Czech). Inside the jungle it is hot and humid as would be expected. Birds flew around and you had to play 'spot the creature' as it seemed most of them were in hiding. However, the next part was the Twilight Zone and passing through a stringy curtain we found ourselves in semi darkness. It was hot and humid and a little eerie. All of a sudden hubby shrieked as a bat flew into his hair. 'Eeer it's peed on my eye' he cried. Hmmm there's nothing like bats in your face to get-me-out-of- there quick. I did see a few bats on the way out. I used to like bats as well. Making your way down the windy slope towards the main entrance you pass the red pandas with their long bushy tails. We had seen enough at this point and decided to walk halfway back to the hotel through Stomovka park. ++ Feeding Times ++ These differ between summer and winter. There are a lot to choose from in the summer: 10:00 Meeting at the big parrots 11:00 Feeding of the penguins 11:00 Meeting the peccaries 11:15 Meeting the birds of prey 11:30 Introduction to the gorillas 11:30 Feeding of the pelicans 12:00 Meet the camels and black-tailed prairie dogs 12:15 Feeding of the kangaroos 13:00 Feeding of the otters (apart from Tuesdays when the pool gets cleaned) 13:15 Meeting the coatis 13:30 Exercising with the sea lions (apart from Tuesdays when the pool gets cleaned) 13:30 Introduction to the giraffes 14:00 Feeding of the Przewalski's horses 14:30 Feeding of the lions and tigers (apart from Sundays when they fast) 14:45 Exercising or bathing of the elephants 15:00 Feeding of the leopards and jaguars (apart from Sundays when they fast) 15:00 Introduction to the wolves 16:00 Meeting the hippopotamuses 16:30 Introduction to the hyenas ++ For little kiddies ++ A fun way to get around the zoo for toddlers or young children is to cart them in a zoo trolley. Basically this is like a wooden cart on wheels with a steering handle. (I presume there is a small hire charge). We saw several parents towing children and picnics in these wooden carts. They looked great for tired little legs, not so great for adult backs, especially with two nippers and luggage in one cart going uphill! There are several play areas within the zoo for young children too. Each area is tastefully laid out to blend in with the natural environment. Most of the play areas are made up of wooden animals to climb through, sit on or slide down. There is also a children's zoo, containing farm type animals and pets which can be handled. Food can be purchased to feed these animals. ++ Facilities: Cafes, toilets and disabled access ++ There are two cafes serving hot and cold food within the zoo. One is located near the main entrance and the other near the base of the cable car. Both cafes are very Czech and serve a variety of hot Czech dishes including their famous dumplings (which look like slices of white polystyrene). At the smaller of the two cafes, the items available for purchase were written in Czech and we had no idea what they were. You had to order at the bar so we decided to go back to the main café where a self service selection of dumplings, meat and gravy etc were available (motorway services style). Notices were in Czech but you could point to what you wanted. There was also a cold selection of baguettes filled with ham, cheese and salad which were huge and cost 35 Kc (less than one pound each). The kiosk outside the café also sold the most delicious ice creams which are also worth a try. Waffle cones filled with soft whippy ice cream and then dipped into liquid chocolate or strawberry, very nice and also cheap at 25 Kc (60p). Toilets can be found in several locations around the zoo. The ones we ventured in were clean and free (unlike most Czech public toilets). There were no specific signs for disabled access around the zoo. A rather steep set of steps near the entrance did have a smooth ramp (which looked around a slope of 1:3). I presumed this would be for zookeepers pushing wheelbarrows up. I did however picture a wheelchair flying down the slope at high speed… surely it couldn't be meant as a disabled ramp? I suspect most of the zoo would be accessible for wheelchair users by taking longer windier paths but it would be wise to check this beforehand if you require disabled access. ++ Miscellaneous ++ This zoo is very Czech as would be expected, but there is not a great deal of English information to be found in the zoo. Most of the signs and information were in Czech and you had to sometimes work out for yourselves what species of animal or bird you were viewing. It was pretty obvious most of the time but if you like to read all the associated information about each animal you had better learn Czech or bring a translator! This wasn't a problem although I did find it frustrating not to be able to read the information boards about the effects of the flood. The pictures told the story well enough though. And would you really expect Czech translations in a British Zoo? I think not. I was surprised that dogs are allowed into the zoo (on a lead). There were water points for dogs near the vending machines. As one not particularly fond of dogs this didn't bother me as there were very few dogs there on the day we visited. There was no litter to be seen, the zoo seemed to be immaculately kept. Education seems to be a strong point for this zoo. There is a small ampitheatre within the grounds with wooden seating which is used for educational talks. There is also a large information / education centre which is used by visiting school parties. As in most zoos, the public are able to adopt animals to help with the cost of their upkeep. Prague Zoo have a modern slant on this idea, allowing anyone to text a donation to their favourite animal. An SMS text sent to the zoo donates around £1 to the fund of the animal of your choice. ++ What the kids thought ++ Our four children have been to several zoos including Chester, Blackpool, Jersey and Twycross. They all decided that Prague Zoo was the best so far. This was even without a visit into the zoo shop! So a definite thumbs up from them. ++ What we thought ++ Hubby and I were both impressed with the size and layout of the zoo. What particularly stood out was the harmonious nature of the environment within the zoo. The fences were made from roughly cut branches, there were numerous huts with a thatched style roof; vending machines were housed in wooded frontless huts to make them less of an eyesore and information displays and maps had unique wooden surrounds. There was little gourdy plastic to be seen anywhere. Even the kiddy play areas were made up of sculptered wooden animals, sand with paddling pools alongside. The animals seemed to have larger enclosures compared to other zoos that we have visited. It was not over touristy. ++ Recommend? ++ If you are visiting Prague and can spare a full day to visit the Zoo, I would highly recommend a trip there. Despite the devastations of the flood of 2002, Prague Zoo has been rebuilt into a very harmonious zoo with plenty of space for the animals. Enormous public support has contributed to the success of the zoo which has been enhanced by the Gorilla reality show. Let's hope the Czech government have implemented plenty of flood defence schemes to prevent such a flood happening again. Prague Zoo has such a lot to see and do at a very reasonable price and would make an enjoyable day out with or without kids. Don't forget your camera or camcorder, oh and a translator! Further information can be found at: www.zoopraha.cz/english/ Thanks for reading.

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          ""Prague Zoo is a zoo in Prague, Czech Republic. It was founded in 1931 with the goal to "advance the study of zoology, protect wildlife, and educate the public" in the district of Troja in the north of Prague. The zoo occupies 45 hectares (111 acres) and houses about 4,600 animals that represent 630 species from all around the world. Prague Zoological Garden has contributed significantly to saving the Przewalski horse. For many years it was the biggest breeder of the species in the world.""