Prague Zoo kicks off 91st season of operation this weekend

Also: 3,000 Russians in Prague protest war in Ukraine, Czech National Bank expected to raise interest rates again next week, and more weekend headlines.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 26.03.2022 12:20:00 (updated on 27.03.2022) Reading time: 6 minutes

Zoo Prague Zoo kicks off 91st season of operation this weekend

Prague Zoo officially inaugurated its 91st season of operation this weekend with a ceremony on Saturday featuring Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib, Deputy Mayor Petr Hlubuček, and Ukrainian Ambassador to the Czech Republic Yevhen Perebyinis. Since the end of last month, Ukrainian women and children can visit the zoo for a symbolic one crown entrance fee; Prague Zoo is also working with zoos in Ukraine to ensure animals have continued care during the ongoing war.

In the coming weeks, Prague Zoo will receive a pair of pangolins from Taipei, while a new pavilion for gorillas will be opened later this autumn, according to Zoo Director Miroslav Bobek. The zoo also plans to build a new home for polar bears. The zoo has also celebrated a number of recent births, including a four-month-old silver gibbon and a one-week-old ring-tailed lemur.

Protest 3,000 Russians in Prague protest war in Ukraine

An estimated 3,000 members of the Russian community in Prague staged a protest against Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine on Saturday afternoon. The protest began at Náměstí Míru, and demonstrators carrying signs and Ukrainian flags later marched down Wenceslas Square in central Prague. The protest devoted a moment of silence to Ukrainian children, women, and those fighting against Russia, and ended after about three hours.

The event was organized through the Facebook group Russians against Putin. Russians living in the Czech Republic must publicly show that they clearly stand against the war, organizers stated. "We stand with the Czech Republic, Europe and the whole world against the Russian aggression," they wrote.

Fire Hotel in central Prague evacuated due to fire

Around 220 people were evacuated from a building on Jilská street in central Prague on Saturday evening after a fire broke out at a hotel storage facility containing IT equipment, according to Prague firefighters. No injuries were reported, and the fire was extinguished on the sixth floor of the building.

"The building is full of smoke, we have evacuated about 300 people and are pursuing further investigation," Prague firefighters wrote on Twitter. They indicated that it was the hotel server room that caught fire. Police were also called in to the scene, and the cause of the fire is currently being investigated.

Money Czech National Bank expected to raise key interest rate again next week

The Czech National Bank is expected to again raise its key interest rate next Thursday, according to economists contacted by local journalists. The rise follows sharp inflation due to the war in Ukraine, and the bank's efforts to minimize inflation expectations. The current key interest rate in the Czech Republic already stands at a 20-year high.

The bank is expected to raise rates by .5 percent, and potentially up to .75 percent, when it announces its rates on Thursday. It would be the fifth above-standard (.25 percent) rise in a row, and follows a hike of .75 percent up to 4.5 percent in February. The key interest rate in the Czech Republic is currently the highest it has been since 2002.

Education Number of teachers in the Czech Republic up 15 percent in past five years

The number of teachers at schools in the Czech Republic is on the rise and it has grown by about 15 percent over the past five years, according to data released by the Czech Ministry of Education this weekend. There were 178,975 educators teaching at schools in the Czech Republic as of September 2021.

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The most significant rise was seen among elementary school teachers, which have increased by 20 percent over the past five years and now stands at 88,800. Teachers' salaries in the Czech Republic have also significantly increased over the past five years, and grew to an average of 47,590 crowns per month at the end of last year compared to 31,632 crowns per month in 2017.

Environment Prague to plant 150,000 new trees this spring

Prague foresters will plant an estimated 150,000 new tree seedlings this spring, according to City of Prague spokesperson Petra Fišerová. Most of the trees will be planted in the newly-created Lítožnice forest, which is being developed between the Běchovice, Dubeč, and Koloděje districts east of the city center. In all of 2021, Prague planted a total of 220,000 new trees.

In recent years, oak trees have been the most popular choice among Prague foresters, and they represent about fifty percent of the new trees being planted. Beech trees, linden trees, and other deciduous trees will also be planted. In Lítožnice, five hectares of former agricultural fields have been transformed into a new forest that will begin to take shape in the coming years as the new trees grow.

Sports Czech tennis stars advance to third round at Miami Open

Four Czech tennis stars have advanced to the third round in women's competition at the Miami Open as Petra Kvitová, Karolína Muchová, Kateřina Siniaková and 16-year-old Linda Fruhvirtová all won their matches heading into the weekend. Marie Bouzková, meanwhile, was eliminated by Spain's Paula Badosa, currently sixth worldwide in WTA rankings.

Fruhvirtová, considerably younger than most of her opponents, made the Miami Open as a wild card and stunned Belgium's Elise Martens, currently ranked 24th worldwide by the WTA, 7-5, 2-6, 6-1. This year's Miami Open runs through April 4; Siniaková and Muchová are back in action in the round of 32 today, while Kvitová and Fruhvirtová play tomorrow.

Finance Czech crown, Prague Stock Exchange strengthen

Both the value of the Czech crown and the Prague Stock Exchange, which had been steadily dropping since the Russian invasion of Ukraine last month, improved over the past week. By Friday, Czech currency was trading for 24.64 crowns against the euro and 22.44 crowns against the dollar, both slightly up compared to the previous week.

Shares on Prague Stock Exchange, meanwhile, have also strengthened over the past week. The PX Index rose 1.9 percent over the past week to 1,346.5 points by the close of business Friday afternoon. Czech weapons manufacturer Česká zbrojovka saw the largest growth over the past week, while local bank Komerční banka saw a decline in the value of their securities.

Human rights Czech Republic sends postcards to Belarusian political prisoners

Postcards in support of opponents of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko were collected at Hradčanské Square in downtown Prague on Friday and will be sent to Belarusian prisons during the campaign For Our and Your Freedom, supported by Czech Chamber of Deputies chair Markéta Pekarová Adamová.

More than 1,000 political opponents are currently being held in Belarusian prisons. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that 969 people were jailed in Belarus for political reasons in 2021, and the figure reached 1,084 by March 4, 2022. Some of these people were sentenced to ten years or more. The Czech campaign is a reminder that the free world abroad does care about their fate, Pekarová Adamová told journalists yesterday.

Crime Czech teen charged with making bomb threats in US, Sweden

Czech police are investigating an 18-year-old Czech citizen who allegedly threatened to bomb media companies in the United States and Sweden last year. According to police spokesperson Eva Červenková, the Czech Republic is cooperating with the United States' FBI on the case.

The Czech teen is suspected of threatening criminal acts of violence and spreading false alarm, and could face up to five years in prison if convicted of the crimes. He told investigators that he did not intend to carry out the threats. "The defendant, who lives in a small village near Nýřany, issued bomb threats through social media in two cases last October and December. In the first case, he targeted a Swedish media company, and in the second, a U.S. television station," Červenková said.

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