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Zoo Ljubljana Ljubljana Zoo review

Discussion in 'Slovenia' started by Shirokuma, 30 Oct 2013.

  1. Shirokuma

    Shirokuma Well-Known Member

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    Ljubljana Zoo review

    Ljubljana Zoo is located on the edge of the centre of Slovenia's capital city. It was established in 1949 and has been at its current site since 1951. There are some amazing enclosures which I would rank as some of the best I have seen anywhere but also some quite poor ones. The zoo is undergoing a programme of renovations and the bad enclosures are actually very few.

    I walked to the zoo, it took about half an hour from where I was staying. The zoo is surrounded on three sides by an enormous hilly park covered in woods. To get to the zoo I walked through the woods which was a very nice start to the day. The last part is along a road lined by houses and diplomatic residences and some meadows and woodland.

    By the time you reach the zoo it's starting to feel quite rural.

    The entrance has a single ticket booth and is built in an attractive rustic style as are most of the zoo's buildings.

    It was €7.50 to get in which I thought was reasonable. There is no guidebook and the only map is basically a black and white photocopied A4 sheet with feeding times on one side and the map on the other. There is only one map on display in the whole zoo and that is as you enter so I recommend being sure to pick up a map as you enter.

    It isn't an enormous zoo but I would have missed one of the enclosures if I hadn't consulted the map.

    There are two parts to the zoo. The lower part is on a slight slope and the upper part is made up of a hillside woodland area. The paths here are very steep and on a mild day I was pretty hot and sweaty. If you have any mobility issues you'd have great difficulty enjoying the zoo which is a shame; my opinion the best bits are up at the top.

    The first set of enclosures you see are farm yard paddocks. It's not really a petting zoo or children's farmyard, rather a collection of animals in a farm yard setting. There are geese, chickens, cows, goats, sheep and pigs as well as a horse which I think is a Lipizzaner. I presume the domestic animals were Slovene breeds but I couldn't see a sign. Generally however the signage in the zoo is quite well done. Also in the corner of the zoo is an island for squirrel monkeys. Their indoor enclosure is linked to the island by a raised passageway. This is one of the most recently constructed enclosures. It's very nice but seems a bit out of place as it's right next to the farmyard with no other enclosures nearby.

    Walking up the hill there is a seal ion enclosure. It's a rather typical concrete pool but in recent years it looks like the harsh lines of the enclosure have been softened with the addition if some large boulders. There is underwater viewing too.

    Next are two pens with swans and Canada geese.

    The next enclosure is very good. It used to be for Amur tigers but now holds a pair of cheetahs. There is an indoor viewing area with glass windows and you can see them close up. I think they are young adults or juvenile animals as you can see what looks like the remains of their cubs coat on their backs.

    Walking up a bit you see the large outside enclosure. It's wooded with a large moat and viewed from above.

    Next is the bear enclosure. It is rather pit-like but otherwise very good. There's a grassy hillside in one part (it's divided in two) and the three European brown bears were very active with no sign of stereotyping. Some people were scattering food in one half and by the look of them they were on a keeper for a day experience or something similar.

    This is where the paths get very steep. Climbing up the hillside a path leads you past an aviary for black stork and night herons which blends in with the forest to one of the best enclosures I have ever seen. Probably the biggest lynx enclosure I know of. A steep wooded gorge has been fenced off with a wooden viewing platform. I imagine that they can live quite naturally and can probably hunt birds and maybe small mammals. If anyone has seen the lynx enclosure at the New Forest wildlife park it is similar but much bigger. The one obvious drawback is that seeing any animals is pretty difficult. I stayed for a long time waiting and watching but no luck.

    This path is a dead end so you have to go back on yourself to get to the other parts of the zoo.

    Across from the bears is one of the less impressive exhibits. A traditional monkey house style building has a small group of chimpanzees, black and white ruffed lemurs and black pencilled marmoset which I don't think I have seen before. The inside visitor area has been decorated and the floor scattered with wood chips which softens it but the building is showing its age.

    Immediately behind this is a wooded enclosure on the hillside for wolves. It's quite good but once again viewing is mainly from above. There is lots of signage and interpretive notices about wolf behaviour.

    The path leads steeply upwards. There is an aviary for eagle owls, one of a number of owl aviaries in the woodland part of the zoo which are all in a similar style and blend into the landscape. They are simple and very nicely done but some are maybe a little small.

    The path leads you along a ridge through the woods. There are quite long stretches of footpath where you just walk through the woods with no enclosures and there is a 'wildpark' feel to this part of the zoo.

    There is then a very impressive ibex enclosure. You suddenly see it ahead of you, a rocky cliff in the forest. There are lots of signs here about different antlers and horns including mounted examples for comparison.

    I almost missed the next enclosure. Up a path from the main route is a large rocky enclosure for chamois. It's another impressive exhibit which takes advantage of the natural landscape.

    There are more owl aviaries up an even steeper path including eagle owl again, snowy owl and Uralic owl.

    Another rocky paddock houses a group of mouflon. Like the ibex and chamois enclosures it is simple and natural but very impressive.

    Along here the woodland is more open with pines and ferns on the ground.

    The next enclosure is a griffin vulture aviary in the same style as the owl aviaries. There is a wooden viewing platform that looks out over the forest. I don't know if they have plans for an enclosure but something like snow leopards would be great up here.

    Walking down the hill is another stretch of path with no enclosures. There are signs about native birds and trees.

    The next enclosure is for wild boar. There were two adults and what looked like a recent litter which was already quite big. It's a typical muddy wild boar enclosure slightly sunken in the ground. I'd prefer it to have a raised area so they can at least see out properly but otherwise it was fine. This is the last enclosure in the woodland area of the zoo.

    The following enclosures are all on the lower levels of the zoo. Turning left you see a decent sized red panda enclosure with bamboo and lots of climbing opportunities. Interestingly much of the climbing branches were over water. It's surrounded by pine trees and offers good views from three sides.

    Next is a row of cages with leopards. No specific subspecies was identified in the signage. This is probably the worst enclosure in the zoo. But it's better than it used to be when as I understand this row also included lions and pumas. Still, my advice would be to replace the leopards with birds as it looks more like a pheasantry than a modern big cat exhibit.

    From the worst to one of the best. The Amur tiger enclosure is a large high fenced wooded area with ponds, streams and plenty space. Easily one of the best tiger enclosures I have ever seen. There are four viewing shelters, one with a viewing area to an indoor shelter and the others have the same substrate as the enclosure creating a sense of a single space. The enclosure is divided in two I think. It's very new and I don't think the tigers have actually moved in yet.

    On the other side of the path is the elephant enclosure. The outside area is just about adequate. At least it is sandy with a pool. But it's very small and with only one Asian elephant I hope it's being phased out. The enclosure is a raised plateau with electric fencing. The indoor area is quite depressing with a concrete floor. Inside are also two reptile enclosures; one for Indian python and the other for green iguana and I think sulcatta tortoise. They were kind of mediocre I think it's fair to say.

    Around the back of the elephant enclosure is a paddock for Bactrian camels. This is quite nice and is raised up from the path.

    Across from here is the giraffe house. As it is on a slope you go up some steps to see the indoor stalls through windows. There's some nice signage which allows you to identify the individual giraffes by their coat patterns and with some biographical details. The giraffe house is almost like an Alpine chalet in style. Also here are ostrich and Guinea fowl. They have a fairly nice paddock. Next to this is a very nice paddock for lechwe and ostrich - this is actually across from the sealion enclosure but from here you are viewing it from the other side. I really liked this enclosure I thought it was well landscaped with rocks and trees. There is also a sandy paddock for zebra and back towards the exit, a fairly standard but attractive meerkat enclosure with the now compulsory late October pumpkins for enrichment.

    Going back past the giraffes there is a restaurant and playground area. I didn't have anything to eat as it was still quite early. Next to this is the vivarium, a small reptile house with mostly European snakes and lizards. Almost all the signage here was Slovene so I don't have a full list. Also apart from Chelonia I'm not really a big reptile fan so I didn't pay a massive amount of attention or recognise their scientific names. There were also Madagascan tenrecs. The tanks were generally small but very nicely done with one snake enclosure including a cut away view of below the surface.

    Back outside there is an area which I guess is used for pony rides in the summer. There is an attractive enclosure with a big pond for capybara including very cute babies.

    There is a tiny enclosure for Indian porcupine which I thought was inadequate.

    If you turn here you can see the elephant and camel enclosures through the trees. There is a long row of aviaries, old but functional with mostly parrots and I think barn owls and Uralic owls. One of the macaws was badly self-plucked.

    Further along are pleasant woodland paddocks for red and fallow deer, a small petting area with pot-bellied pigs and maybe other species and fairly nice enclosures for wallaby, emu and cape barren goose and mara, guanaco and rhea.

    A pond is divided into two by a footbridge and on one side is an island for buff-cheeked gibbon including a baby which was very active and pelicans and white stork on the other side. Black and white ruffed lemur were signposted but for some reason they are actually in the chimpanzee building now.

    The remaining enclosures are a couple of neat and tidy paddocks for alpaca and zebu which bring you back to the meerkat enclosure and then to the exit.

    I think I spent two and a half hours at the zoo. I think it has enormous potential with a very interesting site. They are working on developing the zoo and as I said the good enclosures outnumber the bad by far. It's not the most exciting collection ever species-wise and I can think of a number of species, especially alpine and woodland animals which would be good for the zoo to keep but it's immaculately maintained and has a unique, pleasant atmosphere. I really liked it and recommend a visit if you are in Slovenia.

    Also today I went to the Postojna caves. It's a huge complex of limestone karst caves and is amazing to visit. One of the huge caverns has a tank with olm on display. It was fascinating to see them. They can go for years without eating and in captivity are fed three times a year. Also at Postojna is a vivarium. Separate from the main cave complex is this exhibition of cave dwelling species in another cave. They give you electric torches at the entrance but it is well lit and there is no need for them. It just means that kids are flashing them into the tanks which was a bit annoying. You can't take pictures but if you google it you can see what it is like.

    You can see olm, cave crickets, guanobite invertibrates, cave fish, beetles, wood lice, spiders, snails and shrimp.

    I then went to the Predjama castle, an amazing castle built into a cliff face. There is another cavern here which is closed at this time of year as it's a hibernation location for bats. What was exciting for me was that I saw a fire salamander on the ground outside. In fact I almost stood on it. It froze completely and didn't move until I was well away.


    I will post photos of the zoo when I am back in London.
     
    Jobovc likes this.
  2. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    Yhanks for this intresting review Shirokuma !
     
  3. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the great review! It is especially exciting to read about a zoo that is fairly small and not very well known around the world. How many zoos have you been to now?
     
  4. Shirokuma

    Shirokuma Well-Known Member

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    Pleasure :)

    Here are all the zoos I have visited:

    Europe

    Edinburgh Zoo, Morcambe Marineland (closed), Blackpool Tower Aquarium, Blackpool Zoo, Martin Mere Wetland Centre, Southport Zoo(closed), Knowsley Safari Park, Haigh Hall Zoo(closed), Chester Zoo, Twycross Zoo, Dudley Zoo, Linton Zoo, Drusillas Zoo Park, Whipsnade Zoo, Woburn Safari Park, Golders Hill Park, London Zoo, London Wetland Centre, Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Howletts Wild Animal Park, British Wildlife Centre, Arundel Wetland Centre, Marwell Wildlife, New Forest Wildlife Park, Bristol Zoo Gardens, Skånes Djurpark, Skansen and Skansen Aquarium, Copenhagen Zoo, Tallinn Zoo, Korkeasaari Zoo Helsinki, Reykjavík Zoo & Family Park, Antwerp Zoo, Grottes de Han Wild Animal Reserve, Blijdorp - Rotterdam Zoo, Basel Zoo, Schönbrunn Zoo Vienna, Zoo Salzburg, Ljubljana Zoo, Postojna vivarium, Lille Zoo, Zoo de Pont-Scorff, Zoo de la Boissière du Doré, Zoo de Doué.

    North America

    Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle Aquarium, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, Oregon Zoo, Vancouver Aquarium, Grouse Mountain.

    Asia and Oceania

    Tisch Family Zoo Jerusalem, Singapore Zoo and Night Safari, Nagoya Aquarium, Nagoya Hagashiyama Park Zoo, Kobe Oji Park Zoo, Kobe Aquarium, Osaka Aquarium, Osaka Tennoji Park Zoo, Zoorasia, Ueno Zoo, Iida Zoo, Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Garden, Taronga Zoo, Sydney Aquarium, Melbourne Zoo.
     
  5. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    Sounds like an interesting place Shirokuma. I was planning to go to Slovenia (with the caves one of the main reasons), but I couldn't fit it in.

    When did you visit? Perhaps the Ruffed Lemurs share the waterfowl island over summer, but get moved to the monkey house for winter?
     
  6. Shirokuma

    Shirokuma Well-Known Member

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    I was there on Tuesday morning. Slovenia is beautiful, I really recommend a visit. You can see a lot in a short space of time as it is so small.
     
  7. lintworm

    lintworm Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the review, I visited this zoo in 2011 and I was also very pleased by the zoo and I find it the best eastern European zoo I visited so far in terms of animal welfare (I haven't been to Czech zoos ;).

    Did you see any markhors neer the chamois and ibex enclosures, I liked them a lot too when I visited.
     
  8. Shirokuma

    Shirokuma Well-Known Member

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    There weren't any markhor, just mouflon, ibex and chamois. I know there have been changes recently as the map on their website shows mouflon and moose in the enclosures currently occupied by red and fallow deer.