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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad

Dear friends,

A bit more than a week ago, on a lovely Saturday morning-afternoon, I went with one of my friends and her family (husband and child) to the Krakow Zoo. It was my second time there, first time being almost 2 years ago. It was autumn as well, but much hotter and sunnier than this time. And for the first time, I got caught by the bus controller :)  To my defense, it was not my fault and my friend took the blame. We got 30 minute tickets and we switched two buses. I wanted to check another ticket but she said that it does not matter how many buses you take, that all you need to care is that it should be 30 min maximum after checking the ticket in. We disagreed and I thought 1 bus = 1 ticket. Guess who was right? I tell you, whatever you do, trust your instincts and check another ticket ;) Just in case!
Four legs good, two legs bad.
George Orwell, Animal Farm
But back to the cute Krakow Zoo :) Krakow’s compact zoo – "Krakowski Ogrod Zoologiczny" in Polish – is situated amidst the vast 500-hectare Las Wolski forest, turned to municipal park in 1917, some ten kilometers west of the city’s central Old Town historic district and 126 meters higher, i.e. 345 m above sea level, near the top of the Pustelnik hill.
Krakow Zoo’s seventeen hectares accommodate over 1400 animals, in that number some 600 birds and 400 mammals, representing 285 species, 32 of them on the verge of extinction and 88 endangered.
Its most prized possessions include herds of pygmy hippopotamus and Przewalski horses, Somali wild ass, Pere David's deer, barasingha, South American tapir, white camel, South American sea lions, several species of wild cats, rare antelopes, such as addax, eastern bongo and waterbuck.
The Reptile House on the zoo’s premises features dwarf caimans, lizards, turtles, snakes, amphibians, invertebrates and exotic fish.
A Place Designed For Insects - for LadyBugs as well :) I should build one of those!
Krakow’s zoological garden has succeeded in breeding in captivity – among others – Andean condor, the maned wolf, snow leopards, Chinese leopards, jaguars, fennec foxes, caracal lynxes, European wild cats, northern lynxes, ground cuscuses, black mangabeys, chimpanzees, lar gibbons, and common marmosets. It can boast regular hatches of steppe eagles, white cockatoo, blue-and-yellow macaw, and Grey parrot.
Krakow Zoo was opened in 1929.
Public transport: City bus line 134 links Krakow Zoo with the downtown. Buses leave from the stop at Kaluzy street next to the Hotel Cracovia every 30 minutes on weekdays and every 15 minutes on summer Sundays and holidays. If you wish to come by car, that is possible but you cannot get to the Zoo during the weekend. You need to leave the car in the parking place - costs 15 zloty per day and even if you stay 1 hour or the full day you pay the same - and walk around 1 km to the entrance.
Krakow Zoo’s opening hours:
Winter 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Spring and autumn 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Summer 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. 
If you would love to know more about the Zoo, you really need to search hard as even their site is in Polish. To their defense, they have so many visitors from Poland (almost every school has field trips there) that it makes no sense to bother translating. But they do have a summary page in English ;)
Here is a short extract: "The Director of Cracow ZOO is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). We are a member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). Importantly, our ZOO is a contributor to the work being done in animal breeding by several dozen international commissions in order to save the species now threatened with extinction."
I found it very lovely that there is a mini zoo and kids and adults alike can pet the animals and play with them up close. The child in me petted the donkey and wished it would transform into a unicorn or at least a poney. Alas, it did not happen so I was very happy seeing the giraffe up close and personal. They are the latest aquisition of the Zoo and as far as I could see, the whole space was rearranged so to fit them in as best they could. There are 3 of them from 2 different species, whose name I cannot remember (to my shame). If you speak not Polish, if you are an expat as me, it may be a bit hard if you know not the animals. The boards and signs are all in Polish and there is no possibility of any tour in English. The only thing translated are the names of the animals.
But either way, the walk there and spending time there can make anyone smile. I love animals and I love when Zoos are in nature and not in the middle of the city. Here the Zoo is surrounded by forest and it looks very peacefull and quiet. But I wonder how they manage to keep the animals warm when the cold winter comes... If ever you are in the area, if you have kids and if you like animals, please do go and have a look :) The tickets are not that expensive - 18 zloty normal price - and you can spend there the whole day :) Have you ever been to the zoo? What have you liked best :) Do tell me!

Yours truly,
The LadyBug In Love With Flora & Fauna