Wrocław Zoo

Created on July 10, 1865, the Wrocław Zoo has a long history of fame and unfortunate events. It quickly rose to fame and became world renowned since the year 1880. The Zoo was first closed in 1921 after an economic crisis in Europe, and while it reopened again in 1927 to a great fanfare with newer buildings and more animals, it was closed in 1945 in the aftermath of WWII with most of the animals killed and Zoo buildings destroyed.

It reopened for the third and final time in 1948 under the direction of Karol Łukaszewicz, and in 1957 the grounds on which the Zoo lies today were officially reclaimed from the city. The Wrocław Zoo was most known in Poland due to a weekly Sunday TV program called “With a Camera Among the Animals” that featured the former Zoo director Antoni Gućwinski and his wife with different animals every week. I remember watching the show as a kid, and felt proud that the entire country was watching something that was taped right here in Wrocław.

Directly across the street from the Zoo is the Centennial Hall. Built in 1913 it is also one of Poland’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

This past Sunday marked what could quite well be the last sunny Sunday of the Fall season. It was still cold, but sunny, and Karolina and I decided to visit the Zoo. My first visit in 16 years. The place has undergone extensive modification in the recent year or two. There are political wars going on between the current and the former Zoo directors, even criminal charges in a case of a bear kept in a cage not tall enough for it to stand on his hind paws. I won’t get into it, but it seems that a lot has changed for the better in this Zoo since the new administration took office.

One of the most interesting things I saw was an enclosed monkey and sloth exhibit. Seeing smaller monkeys behind a glass was nothing new, but seeing them run around wild among people was cool. No bigger then a cat, they roamed around not minding the public, but some curious enough to come up for a photo. Sadly my camera couldn’t keep up with the dark conditions and fast monkeying around, with my lens only able to do f3.5, even at ISO 3200 it was hard to get a steady shot. But I did keep up with the sloth, kind off. It was really something else watching a big animal hanging a few feet above my head. I’ve never seen one period, but seeing one ‘walk’ right above me was great.

There was also a butterfly room with a butterfly incubator. While it looked a little freaky at first, we saw butterflies just a couple hours old leaving their cocoon. We almost missed the lions; as we walked up to their area it was already getting cold and the evening was quickly approaching, we took a couple of photos just before the lions were rounded up and taken away to spend the night in their enclosed cages. One of the recently opened attractions is the seal tank. It’s no ‘Sea World’, but it’s a nice addition to the park. It has a pretty cool window bay with the window actually caving inside the tank beyond the wall, giving you the feeling of being inside the water itself. The entrance cost is 25 zlotys, that’s about $8 bucks, and I would recommend seeing it but probably not until the spring of next year.

Below are a few photographs and a short movie I put together from the trip. I should add that about half of these photos were taken by Karolina.

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