Helping (not only) Ukrainian zoos

Director´s view

Miroslav Bobek  |  19. 03. 2022

Last Saturday morning, the director of Mykolaiv Zoo, Vladimir Topchij, published a photo with the caption “a night-time gift for our zoo”. It depicted a cluster bomb embedded in the ground. At more or less the same time, he also sent back the signed contract that was necessary for us to be able to pay him ten thousand euros so he could buy food and materials. Which he promptly did the next day – for a change it was a gift from Prague Zoo.

Vykládka ve varšavské zoo. Foto: Miroslav Bobek, Zoo Praha Vykládka ve varšavské zoo. Foto: Miroslav Bobek, Zoo Praha

We sent another ten thousand euros to the zoo in Kharkov. There – and in many other places – they have managed to repeatedly import food and extra equipment! This was only possible thanks to an admirable project that was started by the Russian zoologist Ulyana Kalazny. The project’s control centre was quickly moved from her home zoo in Lodz to the zoo in Warsaw.

In Warsaw, mostly thanks to Ulyana's enthusiasm, food, veterinary medicines and various items of equipment are collected and brought here by workers from Polish and foreign zoos. From there, everything goes to the Ukrainian cities of Lviv or Rivne and then on to the facilities that need this aid. Prague Zoo has already sent two shipments to Warsaw. Incidentally, I accompanied one of them, and after many years I once again spent the night at Warsaw Zoo in the Żabiński Villa – a building where hundreds of Jews found a safe haven during World War II and, thanks to the Żabińskis, were given a chance to survive. I fell asleep there with the thought that history – unfortunately – repeats itself in various guises.

By means of our collection, which is tied to other activities such as special tours of Prague Zoo or charity tickets, we are trying to help Ukrainian zoos and other breeding facilities. What is more important, however, is helping people. I am incredibly proud of the many of my colleagues from Prague Zoo who contribute to fundraisers for Ukraine, put up refugees, donate their belongings to furnish apartments for Ukrainian families and have whip-rounds among themselves to raise money for them. I want to take this opportunity to thank these colleagues – as well as everyone else who helps us in our efforts in whatever way possible.

Helping (not only) Ukrainian zoos