Belgrade, Serbia

Belgrade, Serbia

The Belgrade Zoo situation

When i was a kid, i liked going to the Belgrade Zoo (especially the snake house, of course). But it has been a long time I’ve been there, and the only pictures i see are the ones from TV and newspapers reporting when something new happens, a new baby animal is born or when they build something new or make some new aquisition or something like that.

Recently, however, I’ve been getting a lot of reports about the poor state the Belgrade Zoo is in, and the inappropriate conditions of the animal habitats there, both from people who visited the zoo and from media. When the state itself is in lot of financial trouble, one can not expect the Zoo to function normally i guess.

Hat tip to Cvijus, who recently brought my attention to this website, Beogradski Zoo vrt SOS that has a running petition for moving of the entire Zoo to the more appropriate location.

Now, I’m no expert on animals or Zoos, but i consider this website to be a very good resource on information concerning animal conservation and Zoo conditions. Also, whoever designed the website did a good job because the serious and proffesional look gives a lot of credibility to the whole action – thumbs up. Maybe an English version would be a good thing too?

What i managed to find out there:
Belgrade Zoo is not a member of any global Zoo association, such as WAZA (Palic Zoo is there, though) or EAZA.
Belgrade Zoo is built in 1936. and is one of the oldest in Europe.
By European standards, 20 hectares is a minimum for a zoo, while Belgrade zoo only has about 6 hectares.
This is a very small area for 2000 animals, and the site of the Zoo, the Kalemegdan park and fortress, is not an appropriate location because of too much concrete and stone that generate heat quickly. Nearby busy street Cara Dusana is also not a good thing to have around a Zoo.
The Zoo is meant to educate, and Bg Zoo currently doesn’t have employees trained to do that.

Latest news concerning Belgrade Zoo is that Gorica Mojovic, Councilor of the Assembly of the City of Belgrade, stated two days ago that there is a plan of moving the site of the Zoo to Surcin, a municipality near Belgrade. She didn’t, however mention who made that decision or when, and based on which research is Surcin the best soloution? Hopefully we will find that out in near future.

One thing that puzzles me is the Zoo director, Vuk Bojovic, who claims that the Belgrade zoo is one of the best in Europe. Is it really?

Have you been to the Zoo in your city lately?


10 Responses to “The Belgrade Zoo situation”

  1. bganon says:

    I read an interview with Bojic some months ago where he said he was prepared for a battle with local authorities to keep Belgrade Zoo where it is.

    He spoke of past battles, his past relationship with politicians and so on. He seems very much like a Serbian domacin. Good to drink a rakija with.

    He also seems to really care about his animals which is good. But caring about something and understanding it are quite often not the same thing. I dont pretend to be an expert but it doesnt take a genius to work out that the animals dont have enough space in their enclosures.

  2. Blackbird says:

    The whole concept of zoos is not nice for animals. But that being said, some zoos are much better than others. It takes a hell of a lot of money to have a zoo that is more pleasant for the animals and good for the public to visit. Does the Belgrade Zoo, which I remember visiting as a child, have any kind of fund raising effort going on? If people in Belgrade don’t have the money, which they probably don’t, to donate to this zoo then an international campaign would probably reap lots of cash. People will give money for animals all over the world!

    Maybe one of those NGOs in Belgrade could hit up their financier, George Soros, so he do something GOOD with his billions for a change. Waddayathink? Fat chance?

  3. bganon says:

    Well done Viktor (and Cvijus) – very topical I see Blic journalists are obviously reading this blog. There was a centre spread today on the Belgrade zoo.

    It appears as if city planners have a move to Surcin in mind although many people say they wont bother going to the zoo at all if it is located in far from the centre as Surcin is.

    Some people mention Ratno Ostrvo which doesnt sound like a bad idea. They could create more of a safari park style zoo – there is plenty of unused land around there plus they could increase tourism generally on the Island. The problem to my mind is the regular flooding of the island – I suppose there must be a method to prevent this but in the era of global warming tides are only going to get higher.

    A compromise has to be reached. I dont care much for people who have been going to the zoo for 50 years and are used to it and think it should stay there. But neither do I think that a zoo perfect for animals but with no visitors is good either – actually I personally dont mind that because I would go but the problem is it would have to close down.

    As you point out Blackbird the dirty M word is again central to the issue.

  4. Marko says:

    There was an article about the zoo yesterday in the papers. I don’t think it’s such a bad idea to move the zoo. I think the whole Surcin thing has been exaggerated a bit, as people immediately think of the airport. The new location is actually at the border of New Belgrade and Surcin municipalities, on the bank of the Sava, across the river from Ada. Supposedly it will be a huge park accessible by land and water, with new lines of public transportation. It may be less convenient for us, but if the animals will be happier living in wide open spaces resembling their natural habitat I’m all for it.

  5. Viktor says:

    Article in today’s papers says that they wont allow for moving the Zoo in next ten years from Kalemegdan.

  6. Marko K says:

    Well, my 3-year-old daughter thinks Belgrade Zoo rocks! The point is that Belgrade Zoo is not in the business of animal conservation. It is, and is run, like a glorified farm with exotic animals. While it is true that most of the animals live in miserable conditions the Zoo is a blast for kids. In Western Zoos you often have to spend hours standing next to huge enclosures hoping to spot the lonely animal hiding in there somewhere. My 3 year old daughter LOVES Bgd Zoo because all the animals are right there to be seen.

    But, how about a compromise: perhaps Bgd Zoo could set up a “rest and recovery” facility somewhere in Vojvodina? Thus, animals could be periodically rotated and spend some time in decent conditions after a period at the Kalemegdan fortress.

  7. Adela says:

    Action4Animals >>>more info about Animals in Belgrade zoo.

  8. Mir says:

    Does your daughter love the stink of the reptile house from the snakes lying in their own shit? does she like hippos infected eye from lying in filthy water? I mean, come on!

  9. LINDA VING says:


  10. Remona Desnoyers says:

    A remarkable project. This vehicle should be preserved and restored.

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