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Minsk Zoo is situated in the south-east part of Minsk in floodplain of the river Svisloch. According to the order of Minsk City Council of 2 March 2001, the territory with total area 42 hectares in frameworks of the streets Uborevicha, Tashkentskaya, Golodeda and Mashinostroiteley was allocated for the Minsk Zoo. From the southern part this area is bordered with large urban district Chyzhouka, from the north this territory is limited by industrial zone of Minsk Automobile Plant, in western direction – by Chizhovskoye water reservoir with recreation zone for the inhabitants of Chyzhouka. Minsk Zoo has good transport connections with other parts of Minsk. Metro station Avtozavodskaya is located at distance of 1.5 km from the entrance. In nearest future another underground station will be built in the district Chyzhouka at distance of 1 km from the entrance. There are 5 bus routes and 3 trolley-bus routes connecting Minsk Zoo with other districts of Minsk.
17.5 ha with perimeter boundaries of which 6 ha serve to animal exhibits (so-called “Old Zoo” built during 1980-s by Minsk Automobile Plant, and “New Zoo”, built in 2001-2002) and total area 42 ha is allocated for further development of Minsk Zoo.
The Minsk Zoo was established in 1984 by nature amateurs from the Minsk Automobile Plant. Its founder and the first manager was Fedor Revsin, an engineer and a designer of the Minsk Automobile Plant, also the chairman of the Nature Amateurs Club of the plant. The first foster-children of the new Zoo were wild animals, which had found themselves in miserable condition (an injured white stork, swans, polluted with black oil in an industrial precipitation pond, young roes, small foxes and others). Owing to the support, rendered by the management of the plant and to enthusiasm of its employees, small Zoo with enclosures for animals was built in floodplain of the Svislach river, at the bank of a picturesque oxbow lake (former river-bed), not far from the plant. Even at that time, our animal collection counted in about 50 species, including those of non-local fauna, presented by other zoos from Grodno, Moscow, Leningrad, Mena etc.
The Zoo first opened to visitors, who were mostly Minsk inhabitants, on August 9, 1984. This day is considered to be the day of the Minsk Zoo foundation. Then it had a name of a Zoological Garden by the Minsk Automobile Plant. Before the year of 1989, entrance to the Zoo used to be free. The Minsk Automobile Plant had provided financing of the Zoo. In 1987 the director of the Zoo, Fedor Revsin had agreed on a development project of the zoological garden on the area of 17 hectares. His major development concept was the development of water- and shorebird enclosures, as well as enclosures for animals of moderate latitudes.
In 1988 Minsk Automobile plant began construction. However, complicated economical situation in the country interfered with the realization of the Zoo development project. The plant had to give up the construction, and it was frozen. Just 50% of the fence to surround for 17 hectares was managed. Animals had to be kept in the enclosures and rooms which had been built during 1984-1988. In such a state the zoological garden had existed for years of Perestroika and economical reforms. Only owing to enthusiasm of its employees, the Zoo survived, lived, accepted visitors, extended its collection and bred animals. In 1994 the zoological garden acquired at last the status of the Minsk Municipal Zoo, as well as municipal subsidy for feeding animals. However, its development and capital construction were kept by municipal authorities due to various ecological factors: such as, the zoo was quite near to the industrial area of the plant, Chizhovka lake, its location in floodplain of the Svislach river. Finally, in 1999, as licenses and permissions were obtained, capital construction of the 1st line in frames of the Zoo development commenced.
In years of 1999-2001 the objects of the 1st line were completed: the veterinary center (area occupied of 400m2), 15 new enclosures for animals, kitchen and feeding room for animals (250 m2), toilet for visitors (100 m2), parking area for 50 cars, main entrance. Also the perimeter boundary (fence) was finished.
In 2000 there was the decision of Minsk City Council made for further development of the Zoo along the floodplain of the Svislach, in total area of 42 hectares. Lately the preliminary concept of the Zoo development on this territory has been made. Besides, objects of the 2nd line construction have been placed under project. This 2nd line includes:
- Exposition area of “South America” with a tropical pavilion and open enclosures, children’s zoo, also service and household buildings (booking office, entry control station, garages, store-houses). For the years 2003-2005 the municipal authorities have granted financial support for realization of these projects.
- Main exposition zone of Minsk Zoo will be located along Uborevicha Street till the crossing of Uborevicha and Golodeda Streets. Footbridge will connect exposition zone with entrance part. This bridge will go over the river, the floodplain part of the area with enclosures for Cranes, Geese, Storks and other ornamental water birds. In southwest part of main exposition zone the following pavilions will be located: “Exotarium”, reservoir for fur-seals, aviarium and stable with riding-school.
- Central part will be the place for predatory mammals enclosures. Southeast part will be occupied by enclosures for mountain ungulates and raptorial birds “Artificial cliffs” with pavilion “The world of the night” inside, as well as pavilions “The world of monkeys” and “South-East Asia”, “Africa”.
- There will be another entrance on the crossing of Uborevicha and Golodeda Streets. Artificial and natural water bodies for different bird species will be located along the river Svislach.
- Zone with valuable floodplain forest areas will be conserved as Landscape Park with its natural fauna and flora.
- It is planned to organize so-called “Children’s Zoo” with educational club for young amateurs of nature, entertaining complex “Fairy-tail fortress” with area for contact of visitors with tame animals, children’s café, place for riding on pony, mini-exhibition of zoo-sculpture. Children’s Mono-railway will connect “Children’s Zoo” with main exposition zone.
- Distance site after Golodeda Street is reserved for “Ecological village” in remote future. It should be outdoor museum representing traditional land use practices and trades, keeping of domestic animals.
- Two official-economic zones will be allocated along Uborevicha Street. It is planned also to build Scientific Centre to study wild animals in captivity near the crossing of Uborevicha and Golodeda Streets.
The shape of main part of enclosures will be irregular for better survey. It will be possible to survey some large enclosures from different levels.
- The project will be fulfilled step by step, in such a way, that Minsk Zoo can normally work at any stage of it development. It is proposed to build Exotarium”, open enclosures, economic zone and stable with two riding-schools during the first stage. The next stage will be reconstruction of old part and creation of «Children’s Zoo» and building of new main entrance with administrative-cultural-entertainment centre and footbridge. Further development of Minsk Zoo will proceed along Svislach river in direction of Golodeda Street.
At present, the collection of animals of Minsk Zoo counts for 1343 mammals in 64 species, 213 birds in 47 species, 92 reptiles in 53 species, 19 amphibians in 6 species, 1927 invertebrates in 16 species (totally 3585 animals in 186 species).
The most important captive breeding success:
- Regular breeding of such species as Steppe eagle, Eagle owl, Purple gallinule, Lynx, Brown bear, Southern coati, Egyptian fruit bat, Crab-eating macaque, Collared peccary, Lama and others.
Minsk Zoo is a full member of the Eurasian Regional Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EARAZA) since 1997.