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Gradina Zoologica Bucuresti How is the zoo at Bucharest?

Discussion in 'Romania' started by Ursusarctos, 20 Nov 2014.

  1. Ursusarctos

    Ursusarctos Member

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    Hello.

    I am just wondering whether there is anybody here who can recommend whether or not I ought to visit the zoo during a trip to Bucharest at the end of November/beginning of December. I love to visit a good zoo, but I equally would not want to visit a bad zoo. I think it's fair to say that Romanian zoos certainly used not to have a very good reputation, and that animal welfare in Romania was, until fairly recently, poor. However, I also understand that, especially since Romania joined the EU, this situation has been improving.

    I have read reviews of the zoo and looked at photos, but I just can't work out how good the zoo really is. I am assuming that it would not be up to the standard of Prague or Wrocław, but would it be comparable to, say, Budapest? Will there be naturalistic enclosures with enrichment activities? Or will I see depressed, stressed, and bored animals with stereotypy?

    Any suggestions would be very much appreciated. I do always try to see zoos when I travel, but I tend to go with more of an idea of what to expect. When I visited Sofia I was advised that the zoo was not to be visited (this was in 2003). Strangely, to me, the people I met in Sofia said that the zoo was actually much better under the communist regime. I don't know whether the same was true in Romania, but from what I have read about Ceaușescu's fondness for shooting bears I assume that animal conservation and welfare were not high priorities for his regime.
     
  2. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    First and foremost, you must realize that compared to the UK Romania is a very, very … poor and impoverished country, so it would be unrealistic to expect miracles in terms of its zoos and general zoo management. I hasten to add though that the current economic climate in Romania leaves its zoos rather meager resources and a lack of investment in good zoo management from national officialdom. Certainly, there is a new and slowly fledgling zoo community with Romania and

    In matters “Eastern Europe” the rather comfy confines of an UK armchair and a more bustling and discerning zoo visiting community may not be the best indicator either. This certainly when recent lion and bear rescue expeditions - so championed by PETA / PAWS hordes – come to mind and have justly or unjustly portrayed the general image of Romanian zoos in the the great western media in a certain light. It would thus be rather too easy to dismiss Romanian zoos as backward or another even more derogatory qualification.

    I would also not take the behavior of a late dictator – is this not the case with any dictator who start believing their own megalomanic press releases and their consequent abuse of power(s)? - does not fully convey the state of nature conservation in the country. Certainly, compared to the UK you would have to admit that Romania – for what it is worth – really does have a lot more in natural wildlands and wildlife left compared to the UK or the Netherlands! The city of Brasov even champions itself as the Bear Capital of Europe!

    The year 2003 is now more than a decade away and the zoo in Bucharest has certainly changed somewhat. Whether the zoo in Bucharest was better under communist rule / Warsawa Pact as locals would have it, I certainly would take with a pinch of salt (what conditions did people contend with before … and was this really good standard zoo management I ask you?). While sadly having no personal experiences of visiting the Bucharest Zoo, if I were in your shoes and the opportunity arose, I would definitely take a chance with a visit to the zoo in Bucharest regardless of what public opinion or the general opinion of the day would have you believe, have an open mind (set) to what to and not to expect and base an informed opinion on the basis of an actual visit from yours truly instead!

    Best wishes and perhaps you might even be pleasantly surprised!

    An entertaining review emanating from such a zoo visit would then be a nice addition to this thread!
     
  3. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    Completly agree with Kifaru Bwana, go and see it and make your own experience ! A review and some pictres would be an extra bonus ! However don't forget that zoos during wintertime often look a little less atractive as they do in summertime.
     
  4. Ursusarctos

    Ursusarctos Member

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    Hello, and thank you for these replies.

    Yes, of course I realise that Romania is much poorer than the UK. GDP per capita in the UK is about four to four and a half times GDP per capita in Romania, so obviously you are looking at very different economies. That's why I thought that Poland and Hungary would be reasonable points of comparison (admittedly, even the Czech Republic is quite a lot wealthier than Romania). Not, of course, that the wealth of a country necessarily determines the quality of its zoos. Here in the UK we are about three times richer than Poland, and our capital city is the most important financial centre in the world, and yet I think most people would agree that Wrocław has a better zoo. Dubai is surely an example of somewhere extremely wealthy that has a terrible zoo. The latest I read was that the new zoo is going to have juggling monkeys, so, essentially, a circus. The problem's not poverty; it's the attitude of the people, or at least of the people in charge (though presumably also of the people willing to pay to be entertained in this way).

    Also, it has not only been those promoting an aggressive anti-zoo agenda who have found standards of animal welfare in Romania to have been poor. If you take the bear sanctuary at Zărnești, for example, that was established by Romanians who were justifiably concerned about the quality of life of many captive bears in Romania. You don't have to be anti-zoo to see that at least some Romanian zoos were quite obviously simply awful.

    No, I didn't think that Ceaușescu was representative of the Romanian attitude towards animals, or towards anything for that matter. The point I was making was that if it is true that the Communist regime in Bulgaria apparently maintained excellent zoos (which it may not be, of course), that presumably had something to do with the interests of the people running Bulgaria at the time. Similarly, consider ballet in the Soviet Union.

    It's unfortunate that I'll be visiting in the winter, but I think that if there is time I certainly will try to spend at least half a day at the zoo. It would be interesting and informative, and hopefully enjoyable, too. The main thing that I was trying to avoid was the risk of going to a zoo that would just be depressing to see. We are also thinking about visiting Ukraine some time, as my partner's family is originally from Lviv, and I have read about the two zoos in Kiev (the old zoo and a new, private one), and from what I read I really think that I would prefer not to go there, as conditions are reported to be poor, and not just for economic reasons.

    Thanks again for these replies, and I shall post back if we make it to the zoo.
     
  5. lintworm

    lintworm Moderator Staff Member

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    Even Hungary and Poland are uncomparable with Romania and Bulgaria. RO & Bu are among the poorest EU countries and the stories I have read are not too good, there is a good review with photos on a German forum, but that's obviously in German ;).
     
  6. zooboyabroad

    zooboyabroad Well-Known Member

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    I've been to the zoo in Bucharest a few times since I lived there a while ago (2008 - 2011). I have no idea what condition it's in now but I simply do not recommend it. There are though some decent animal buildings with reptiles, small mammals, fish and birds, and lots of Amur tigers in separate enclosures. The lion and brown bear enclosures are decent at best and there is also a small hoofstock collection at the back of it. No megafauna, but that's a good thing considering the conditions the animals are already in.
     
  7. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

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    zootierliste mentions Pelochelys cantorii to be kept there. If anything, it's an interesting and endangered species rarely displayed in zoos. I wonder whether they consider breeding it with the specimens at Vienna zoo in the future.
     
  8. Ursusarctos

    Ursusarctos Member

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    Thank you for these further replies. I do read German, so if you have a link for that review site it would be interesting. Thanks again, everyone.
     
  9. lintworm

    lintworm Moderator Staff Member

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    This is the link:
    Zoofreunde Board

    though you will need an account on the zoofreunde board to read it ;).