Czech president inaugurates Prague Zoo's new Mongolian Gobi exhibit

The exhibit features iconic Przewalski's horses, integral to the zoo's rewilding efforts, alongside Mongolian wildlife like "grumpy" Pallas's cats. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 24.03.2024 12:24:00 (updated on 24.03.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague Zoo heralded the start of its 93rd season with the opening of a new Mongolian Gobi exhibit on Saturday afternoon. Czech President Petr Pavel, Mongolian Minister of Environment and Tourism Bat-Erden, and Prague Zoo Director Miroslav Bobek led the ceremony.

The new exhibit features iconic Przewalski's horses, which have been integral to Prague Zoo's rewilding efforts, alongside Mongolian wildlife like Pallas's cats, called the "world's grumpiest cat" for their distinctive look, and even a prototype of the mythical Mongolian death worm.

In his speech, President Pavel praised the zoo's pivotal role in reintroducing Przewalski's horses to Mongolia, highlighting the significance of international collaboration.

"When the first Przewalski's horse was transported to Mongolia in 2011[...] I considered it an extraordinary event," Pavel said during the opening ceremony. "I would like to express great respect not only to the director and the Prague Zoo, but also to our Mongolian colleagues and friends, because of course it would not have been possible without close cooperation."

The President was referring to the Return of Wild Horses project, through which Prague Zoo transported 34 endangered Przewalski's horses to Western Mongolia between 2011 and 2019. "Now [the zoo] is preparing more transports, this time to the east of the country," he added.

Przewalski's horses have been successfully bred by Prague Zoo for over 90 years, and the zoo has played a critical role in their return to their native Mongolian steppes. Minister Bat-Erden underscored the importance of collaboration, emphasizing the memorandum signed for reintroducing wild horses to eastern Mongolia.

"Przewalski's horses disappeared from nature because of people, and now it's up to us to return them to the wild again," Bat-Erden stated.

The Gobi exhibit not only features Przewalski's horses but also eleven other species of Mongolian animals, with an immersive environment imitating their native landscape.

"Visitors can see a number of Gobi artifacts here, an authentic yurt, a traditional Mongolian ovoo [shrine], dinosaur bones, and mysterious petroglyphs," added Prague Zoo Director Bobek.

Saturday's opening of Prague Zoo's summer season culminated at the zoo's Bird Wetlands, featuring the debut presentation of Brazilian mergansers, critically endangered fish-eating ducks. Only about 250 of these ducks are known to exist in the wild, with a small handful kept in captivity. Prague Zoo is the first zoo outside of Brazil to house them.

Beginning in April, Prague Zoo is open from 9:00 a.m. through 6:00 p.m., with extended opening hours to 9:00 p.m. in June, July, and August. The new Mongolian Gobi exhibit joins a number of new additions to the zoo, which have included an aviary for rare songbirds and a new gorilla pavilion opened in 2022.

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