The ceremonial opening of the Moscow Zoo took place in 1864, thanks to the initiative of the famous Russian zoologist Anatoly Petrovich Bogdanov, who proposed to organize a "living open air museum" in Moscow. Zoos have never been opened in cities with such cold winters.
At the time of the opening of the zoo, there were about 300 animals, mainly representing the fauna of Russia - bears, wolves, foxes, hares and so on. However, it was not without exotic: Russian Emperor Alexander II presented the zoo with an elephant, and Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaevich - a rhinoceros. The following prices were set for the visitors of the institution: on holidays - 10 kopecks, on Thursdays - 50 kopecks, on other days - 20 kopecks.
The zoo was located on Presnya, and in the second half of the 19th century it was not yet the center of the city, but the outskirts, around there were estates and birch groves. Visitors were invited not only to see the animals, but also, in winter, to ride a skating rink or ice slides.
In the first years of its existence, the financial situation of the zoo could not be called prosperous. Despite the fact that there were many visitors, all the money was spent on keeping animals, building and repairing pavilions, and other household needs. Donations from patrons of the arts, including the royal family, did not help either. I even had to sell rare animals abroad. suffice it to say that by the end of the 19th century the zoo owed 100, 000 rubles.
Presnya became the center of armed clashes in December 1905, during the first Russian revolution. The zoo was badly damaged these days: the newly built Aquarium and many wooden buildings burned down, some animals died. And during the 1917 revolution and the Civil War, the zoo was saved only thanks to the enthusiasm of the employees; in the years of famine, it was impossible to find funds for the maintenance of animals. But, even the dedication of the staff did not always save, a significant part of the animals died.
In 1919, the Moscow Zoo was nationalized, therefore, the state took care of its maintenance. The area of the zoo was increased to 26 hectares, the necessary funds were allocated from the city budget not only for the maintenance, but also for the purchase of new animals.
And what happened to the zoo during the Great Patriotic War, when the Nazi troops were near Moscow itself? It turns out that the zoo had not been evacuated anywhere; moreover, it continued to work and was very popular with the residents of the front-line city. Only a small part of the animals were taken to the Urals.
During the war, part of the territory of the zoo was used for military needs. For example, an ammunition depot is located on the "Island of Animals". But, the brown bear Zoika stubbornly did not want to leave her usual habitat, she made herself a den, where she successfully overwintered. In the spring Zoya left the den, but behaved calmly, therefore, the military decided to leave her alone. So she lived in the old place until the end of the war.
The Moscow Zoo had to be on the brink of survival not only during wartime. An equally difficult situation began in the years of perestroika, when there were food shortages in the country. The zoo was saved by the whole world: employees, visitors, young people brought food. The problem was solved only in the early nineties - Moscow was preparing for the 850th anniversary, reconstruction began in the zoo, and money began to be allocated for maintenance.
For a century and a half, the Moscow Zoo has had many animals that remain in the memory of employees and visitors. For example, one of the giraffes even has a surname, name and patronymic - Samson Hamletovich Leningradov. He was born in 1993 at the Leningrad Zoo, and two years later he was transported to the capital. Despite his impressive size (height 5 meters, weight - 700 kilograms), Samson Hamletovich is very friendly and sociable.
None of the buildings from 1864 have survived to this day. At the moment, it is Samson Hamletovich who occupies the most ancient aviary; it was built in 1892 for hoofed animals. True, over the years it was reconstructed several times.
In 2012, the symbol of the Moscow Zoo was chosen. Pallas' cat became it. Moreover, it became an unofficial symbol back in 1987, when it was depicted on the emblem of the zoo. And 15 years later, most of the Internet voting participants spoke in favor of the animal being approved as an official symbol. This underlines the research and conservation objectives of the Moscow Zoo.
Pallas' cat is a rare animal and is on the verge of extinction. Zoo visitors are not often able to admire these wild cats, they are nocturnal, and during the day they prefer to lie down somewhere in a secluded place.