"Living Museum in the open air"

The Moscow Zoo - at the time of its opening it was called that way - in terms of history, it will give odds to many similar institutions in Europe. For example, when the zoo began to work in Moscow, only residents of Vienna, London, Hamburg and Frankfurt-on-Main could view exotic animals without leaving the city. In 1864, biologists from the Imperial Society of Plant and Animal Acclimatization insisted on building a zoological garden. The institution is located on one of the Moscow suburbs, which was then called Presnensky ponds.


The first entrance to the Moscow zoo, 1886. Source: yamoskva.com

Entrance to the zoo in 1910. Source: yamoskva.com

Entrance to the zoo in 1939. Source: moscowzoo.ru

Initially, representatives of the Russian fauna were brought to the zoo in the first place. However, since it was difficult to surprise visitors with wolves, bears, hares and foxes, animals, such as the lion, jaguar, rhino and crocodile, soon began to appear in the cages. In total, the zoo consisted of about 200 species of wild animals and about a hundred - domestic ones.


General view of the zoo, the end of the 1860s. Source: yamoskva.com
Animal Farm, 1884. Source: yamoskva.com
Winter bird house, 1885. Source: yamoskva.com
Aquarium, 1907. Source: yamoskva.com

Most of the buildings of the Moscow zoo was built on the money of rich citizens, it was planned to maintain buildings and animals with money raised from the sale of tickets. However, despite the fact that the zoological garden was popular, the amount collected was not enough - therefore it was temporarily leased to private entrepreneurs. Practically all those who tried to make a business out of the zoo burnt out: the garden now and then turned out to be on the verge of complete ruin.

Restaurant inside the zoological garden, 1870. Source: yamoskva.com
Dovecote in the Moscow zoo, 1900 Source: yamoskva.com
Greenhouse of the Moscow zoo, 1900. Source: yamoskva.com

Each revolution - 1905 and 1917 - Moscow zoo was in the very center of events. Many animals did not survive the uprising, buildings inside the zoo were also significantly damaged - the library burned down, some buildings were completely destroyed. In 1919, the dilapidated institution decided to nationalize - this is how the zoo experienced a rebirth. Already on state money it was restored, new animals were bought there. From the city budget allocated considerable funds for animal feed. In 1926, the garden was significantly expanded, there was built, in particular, a planetarium, a monkey and the pavilion "Polar World". In connection with this, the garden changed its name - now Muscovites officially visited the zoo. Before the war, the zoo experienced a period of unprecedented heyday.

Building for herbivores, 1910. Source: yamoskva.com Exhibition and reading building, 1900 Source: yamoskva.com
Anti-aircraft gun in the park during the Great Patriotic War. Source: moscowzoo.ru

Despite the fact that during World War II, many animals had to be evacuated, the zoo still continued to work. However, part of it was closed to visitors - anti-aircraft guns were located there. Not a single day from 1941 to 1945, the zoo was not closed to visitors. Employees of the zoo, whose number has shrunk threefold, slept right at work. Through their efforts — sometimes after shelling, the officers carried the animals out of the blazing buildings — they managed to save most of the animals.

Sources: RIA Novosti; Moscow's comsomolets; The official site of the Moscow Zoo.

Photo source on the main: moscowzoo.ru / Photo lead source: moscowzoo.ru

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