Don’t miss “Zoo Shorts”

Director´s view

Miroslav Bobek  |  11. 04. 2020

I walked through the open turnstiles into the empty zoo, whereupon I stopped and turned back. Then, suddenly, I pulled out my mobile and began to take a video of the entrance to the closed zoo.

A still from a video about enrichment for orangutans. Author:  Vendula Hejná A still from a video about enrichment for orangutans. Author: Vendula Hejná

“Someone had written to me asking why we don’t put the zoo live on the internet, but we want to have as few people as possible, so I’ll shoot something myself,” I said to myself, thinking aloud.

On Monday, March 16th, Prague Zoo had been closed to the public for the fourth day and we had gradually received various offers for live internet broadcasts. But we’d decided to turn them down. So that we could minimise the risk of infection, we’d reduced the number of workers present at the zoo to a minimum and tried to limit their contact with one another. So, the arrival of technicians to install and maintain the infrastructure needed for live broadcasts would completely go against the aims of this procedure.

But of course, I wanted our visitors and supporters to get the latest news from the zoo. That’s why I made my first under-a-minute video from the entrance. After a while I’d made a second and then a third, etc. They were all on my profile and gradually collected hundreds and hundreds of views and likes. So, it occurred to me that similar videos might be the best way to inform everyone about the goings on at the officially closed Prague Zoo.

That evening, however, there was a major turnaround. One of the keepers, Iva Babováková, had sent me a short video of an emu hatching. A big, dark green, convulsing egg from which a strange looking chick enters in the world! I hadn’t seen anything like this – and most other people certainly haven’t. I realised a crucial fact. No TV crew will ever film what our keepers can. Sometimes the videos they make on their telephones may not be technically perfect, but no one else is as close to the animals as they are or knows them as well as they do.

I made videos in the coming days and my colleague Helena Petáková set up a channel called “Zoo Shorts” on YouTube. Mainly, however, I turned to the keepers to ask if they too could try to make some videos. And with that, the footage of our animals really began to increase. What’s more: some of the videos from our keepers are truly unique. For instance, I’ll never forget the footage by David Vala, capturing Nutmeg, a female Tasmanian devil, wrestling with a stick. Words fail me, you’ll have to see it!

Today there are about thirty keepers posting to our YouTube channel “Zoo Shorts” and I have long since faded into the background. All the better, as I prefer watching their videos. And I’ll admit to one thing: even as the director of the zoo, I never knew more about what was going on amongst our animals than as I do now. So, don't miss “Zoo Shorts”!