Nutmeg the Tasmanian Devil at the opening of Darwin's Crater at Prague Zoo (photo Prague Zoo)

Travel to Australia without leaving Prague: the zoo’s latest exhibit is devoted to Tasmania

At the grand opening of the exhibit on Saturday, the zoo was forced to close due to quickly reaching its current capacity for visitors

The Prague zoo, like many of the city’s important landmarks and attractions, was closed due to the coronavirus epidemic for 45 days from March 13 until it’s reopening on April 27.

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The Saturday opening of a new exhibit devoted to Australian fauna marked the first major post-lockdown event for the zoo, quickly drawing large crowds excited to see the exhibit’s star attraction: four Tasmanian devils.

The inaguration of the Darwin’s Crater exhibition, featuring over 20 species of Australian fauna, reached its capacity of 8,500 people (the current limit on daily visitors due to hygiene safety measures put in place by the government) forcing the closure of the zoo by 1 pm.

The grand opening of the exhibit with Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates) took place without the public present.

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The Darwin’s Crater exhibition of Tasmanian and Australian fauna was ceremoniously opened (from the right) by the director of the Prague Zoo Miroslav Bobek, the mayor of the capital city of Prague Zdeněk Hřib and deputy mayor Petr Hlubuček. Photo: Khalil Baalbaki, Prague Zoo

“I am glad that the project of Darwin’s crater was completed,” said Hřib. “Prague will now have to compensate for the loss of income of the zoo from the time when it was closed due to government regulations. Unfortunately, in Prague, as well as in other municipalities, the government has now taken the money we need to deal with these consequences of the coronavirus crisis.”

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The newly built exhibition is located at the bottom of a slope that is crowned by an artistic rendition of a meteorite that was inspired by Darwin’s Crater in Tasmania, which was reportedly formed by the impact of a cosmic body some 700,000 years ago.

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According to zoo director Mirsolav Bobek, there’s a similar story behind the Bohemian Basin as well as other similarities between the two landscapes:

“In addition, in the vicinity of Darwin Crater there is an equivalent of our moldavites, the so-called Darwin glass. And so, Darwin Crater became the centre of our Tasmanian-Australian exhibition and the home of its most prominent inhabitants – Tasmanian devils.”

In addition to four Tasmanian devils, three of the five Tasmanian species of kangaroos, oviparous egrets, two species of Australian snakes, and more than a dozen bird species have also found a home in the Darwin crater comprising an area of 4,600 square metres. It was built for 18 months and the project cost 78 million crowns.

The Prague Zoo is the second zoo in Europe to acquire Tasmanian devils directly from Tasmania. One of the devils, a female named Nutmeg posed for cameras during the grand opening.

The zoo management has put the financial loss during the closure at 37 million crowns, while it is expected to further rise to 50 million in May due to the lower attendance as no foreign tourists will come, Bobek previously told the press.

Situated in Prague-Troja, the zoo opened to the public on September 28, 1931. It saw a record number of 1,456,526 visitors last year. The zoo keeps over 670 animal species and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Prague.

These are the most visited zoos, botanical gardens, and aquariums in the Czech Republic last year:

Visitors (thousands)Region
Zoo Praha1456.5Prague
Zoo Zlin682.6Zlin
Zoo Ostrava580.1Moravia-Silesia
Safari Dvur Kralove541.9Hradec Kralove
Zoo Plzen505Plzen
Zoo Liberec402.2Liberec
Prague Botanical Garden376.3Prague
Zoo Olomouc348.2Olomouc
Zoo Jihlava346.6Vysocina
Zoo Brno331.3South Moravia

Source: Tourism Institute, CzechTourism 2020

Will you visit the new exhibit at the zoo?

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