Credit: Brno Zoo

Brno Zoo To Undergo Major Modernisation Work In The Coming Years

Brno Zoo and the City of Brno have announced major modernisation to take place on the zoo’s premises in the coming years. 

The changes will involve mainly animal exhibits: two in particular will be modernised – the polar bear enclosure and the raptor aviaries. Together with the City of Brno, the zoo is also planning the creation of a new tropical pavilion, the introduction of Liberian hippopotamus, and an exhibition of milu deer. 

At the same time, there are also plans to construct a new entrance from the Kníničky side and modernise the existing main entrance. The total cost of the planned work will amount to hundreds of millions of crowns. 

The polar bears are among the most popular inhabitants of the zoo, and the need to improve their living conditions has become clear recently.

“Our zoo is historically connected with the breeding of polar bears,” said Filip Chvátal, Deputy Mayor of Brno for the Environment. “Five cubs were born in the past, which is unprecedented in Europe. At the same time, the current exhibition is outdated, which negatively affects the success of future breeding, as well as public perception. That is why we are working towards a long-term expansion of the existing exhibition by an area of ​​approximately 650 m2.” The new area will expand the space for the bears to live in, offer better soil for the bears’ paws, and generally provide renovated facilities to enrich the lives of the bears.

This investment project can be implemented immediately after the selection of the contractor, as the Brno Zoo has a building permit for the expansion. The expected costs for this part of the work are estimated at CZK 19.2 million.

The predators’ aviary also needs urgent work and enhancement.

“Within two to three years, we plan to implement a new raptor aviary,” said Chvátal. “Unfortunately, last year the slope where the aviary of the Kamchatka eagle was located collapsed. Luckily, no one was hurt, but we have to clean up the slope and a new aviary will have to be built.” The new aviary should house birds of prey living in the northern regions, such as Kamchatka eagles, sea eagles, golden eagles, and Andean condors. 

Currently, a study and visualisation of the new aviary are being prepared. However, Brno Zoo does not currently have the financial means to process the project documentation and ensure the issuance of a joint permit. The expected costs for documentation and joint management amount to CZK 700,000. Construction costs are estimated at around CZK 10 million.

Brno Zoo and the City Council are also preparing a study for a new tropical pavilion, possibly with a crocodile display. The current pavilion has been in operation since the early 1970s. Due to heat losses, it has already been the subject of renovation works several times, but the energy consumption is still not ideal. 

“Thanks to its location on one of the peaks of Mniší hora, this pavilion with marine aquarium and terrarium exhibits is one of the most visited,” said Chvátal. “At the same time, this building is the most demanding in terms of energy consumption. Therefore, we want to review the building’s construction and technical condition and find out the feasibility of the reconstruction plan and the possible construction of a new tropical pavilion. Our goal is to reduce energy consumption and at the same time increase the attractiveness of the zoo in the winter months.” Estimated costs for surveys and a preliminary feasibility study amount to CZK 700,000. 

The Liberian hippopotamus is also expected to join the zoo’s collection, as it aims to expand its collection of breeding species. 

“The Liberian hippopotamus seems suitable to us,” commented Chvátal. “It is a species of hippopotamus that lives in the tropical rainforests of West Africa, and there are only a few thousand individuals left in the wild. In the Czech Republic, it is kept only in the Králův Dvůr, Jihlava, Plzeň and Ústí Zoos. Our staff will be able to take care of the hippopotamus, which is why we want to process the necessary documentation so that we can do it as soon as possible.” 

Currently, no documentation has been prepared for the project. The estimated cost for processing all stages of project documentation and carrying out the necessary surveys is CZK 1.8 million. 

The current entrance. Credit: Brno Zoo

The modernisation of the current entrance and the creation of a new one with a parking lot and a footbridge from Kníniček is also meant to increase visitor numbers to the zoo. The new entrance will feature a parking lot, and a wetland biotope will be created as a flood prevention measure in the area under the proposed visitor footbridge.

The old entrance will see improved pedestrian access and safety, with the parking lot on Palcary being redesigned to separate pedestrian routes from car traffic.

The new entrance building is designed as a pair of buildings connected by a covered outdoor area, with a restroom, ATM, luggage storage, vending machines, souvenir shop, information stand and cash desks. The plan has been split into three stages to reduce disruption for visitors.

The renovation plans will replace previous plans drawn up in 2016, which were abandoned due to their high cost, exceeding CZK 400 million. The new plans are estimated at a cost of CZK 240 million. The City Investment Department is currently working on the implementation, evaluating the possibility of accessing the European Union’s Operational Programme Environment (OPE) or Integrated Regional Operational Programme (IROP) funds.

New Zoo entrance. Credit: Brno Zoo

As part of a joint project called “Archa”, in cooperation with Bojnice Zoo in Slovakia and the Czech Union of Conservationists, Brno Zoo will also build an exhibition for milu deer. Bojnice Zoo will work on a rehabilitation centre for injured and sick species of wild birds, and the Czech Union of Conservationists will strive to save butterflies on the edge of extinction. As part of the joint efforts, these activities will be accompanied by educational events.

Brno Zoo’s milu deer exhibition will be funded mostly through an Interreg SK-CZ fund, amounting to CZK 22 million, while the City Council will contribute CZK 2.5 million.

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