Zagreb Zoo Launches the Largest Modernization Initiative in Its History

By 14 October 2015

An upgrade for Zagreb zoo.

An expanded Learning Centre, a new restaurant, bridges, souvenir shop, African Aviary... these are just some of the new features of Zagreb Zoo, which have been made possible by the largest investment in its 90-year history. "The modernization of the Zoo will develop tourism in Zagreb, since the current number of about 260,000 visitors should increase to about 350,000", said chairman of the managing board of the Zoo Ratko Maričić, who pointed out that "modernization project will improve the living conditions of animals which will have a lot more space, since the cages will be replaced by their natural environment", reports Tportal on October 14, 2015.

The project has been largely made possible by the financial support of the European Fund for Regional Development, which has co-financed 95% percent of the total costs, or almost 38 million kuna. The project should be completed by September next year. The idea was launched a few years ago after the leadership of the Zagreb Zoo started studying other European zoos, when they noticed that there is a common theme which enabled them to use EU funds – and that was tourism.

"While developing the project, we have used positive and negative experiences of other zoos, based on which we have planned further steps in the development of the project", said Jurica Ambrožić from the City Office for Agriculture and Forestry, who is the project manager. They came to the conclusion that Zagreb Zoo is an important part of the tourist experience in the city. Based on the pre-feasibility study which showed that the project would bring benefits to wider community, they applied for EU funds when the tender was announced in February 2014, and the funds were awarded to the Zoo in September 2014.

The construction works are currently being finalized on the expansion of the Learning Centre, the construction of the Educational Square and two halls. "We are a small zoo and we need to strengthen the activities in which we can be a significant player, and that is the area of ​​education", said Davorka Maljković, director of Zagreb Zoo.

One of the most impressive new features will be the African Aviary, a large space for eight species of birds which the visitors will be able to enter. "Visitors who enter the African Aviary will come into a new world. The feeling that you have entered into something different, something new and unexpected, will provide a positive experience and demonstrate the importance of nature and biodiversity", Maljković said. In addition to the aviary, a new square will be built as a part of the complex of African savannah.

There are several other features which will also be introduced. Of particular interest is the Madagascar project – an area which will present animals which usually live on Madagascar. "Madagascar is an island which has developed a distinctive flora and fauna. The local population of the island is not economically well-off, and should be encouraged to protect its biological uniqueness – so they do not destroy it in their quest to become more developed", explained Maljković.

Zagreb Zoo will also receive several new animal species, like Dalmatian pelicans, African swamp birds and lemurs. The Zoo is trying to get into the protection program for endangered species of Madagascar as well. It is important to note that all new animals will come from other zoos in order to send a clear message against the illegal poaching, which is a significant problem in many parts of the world.