The Moscow Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in Europe. It was opened on January 31, 1864 and according to the old style of that time, it was called the Animal Garden (lit. zoogarden).
The Moscow Zoo was organized by the Imperial Russian Society for the Acclimatization of Animals and Plants. By the opening of the zoo, it contained 134 copies of domestic animals, 153 specimens of wild animals and birds and 7 specimens of reptiles.
Russian animals represented the best fauna: bears, wolves, foxes, badgers, ferrets, martens, rabbits, squirrels, hedgehogs, deer, owls, and ducks. First of all the creators of the garden wanted to show the audience our native nature. There were also exotic animals - 2 lions, a jaguar, 2 tigers, a leopard, a rhinoceros, and an alligator.
The zoo was experiencing a hard time during the Great Patriotic War. However, people who loved animals very much worked in the zoo and in the first place tried to protect them. When the incendiary bombs fell on the zoo, employees were around their pets around the clock. They brought blankets from their houses and closed the broken windows, calmed the frightened
animals during the raids.
The zoo has always been a favorite place in Moscow. Even during the Great Patriotic War, the zoo continued working, and from 1941 to 1945, more than 6 million people came here.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the zoo experienced great financial difficulties, it began to deteriorate and collapse, and there were problems with the feeding of animals.
The situation changed in the 1990s. In March 1991, the Mayor of the city Yuriy Luzhkov came to the zoo and asked to show him all the facilities. Summing up, he said that the first zoo in Russia is really in an emergency condition and requires general reconstruction. The city declared the zoo as a city-building project.
The long-awaited reconstruction began, during which more than 50 new facilities were built and almost all engineering communications were updated. Yu. Luzhkov constantly monitored the progress of work, came to the zoo, held meetings, and inspected objects.
September 6, 1997, in the year of 850 anniversary of Moscow, there was a solemn opening of the expositions of the first stage of the general reconstruction of the Moscow Zoo.
Now the Moscow Zoo contains more than eight thousand animals belonging to more than a thousand species of world fauna. Zoo specialists breed some species for the first time in the world. The zoo participates many international programs for the conservation of endangered species of animals, cooperating with environmental organizations around the world.
In the center of a huge noisy city, at the former place, the zoo pleases visitors with a new, modern, beautiful appearance and is always glad to guests of all ages.