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MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –

Svetlana Akulova told mos.ru about the future inhabitants of the Pinnipeds pavilion, the replenishment of the scientific library and how the new settler of the zoo, Stepan the tiger, spends the winter.

2022 will be held under the auspices of the Blue (or Black) Water Tiger. V Moscow Zoo the symbol of the coming year is Stepan, a hybrid of the Amur and Sumatran tigers. The striped handsome man registered here relatively recently – in the fall, but in a short time already managed to get used to new conditions and even show his playfulness and sociability.

Svetlana Akulova, General Director of the Moscow Zoo, told mos.ru how Stepan spends his first winter in the aviary, the work done in the past year and plans for the near future.

Stepan’s winter fun and another zoo

– How is the symbol of the new year – the tiger Stepan – settling in a new place?

– The newcomer has a rather sad story: the tiger was about a year old when it was taken from the smugglers. First, Stepan was sheltered in a wildlife rehabilitation center near Veliky Ustyug, and then brought to Moscow. The new settler got used to the zoo almost immediately. A few hours after being placed in the aviary, the tiger plucked up courage and left the carriage to begin exploring the territory. Then it became clear how playful he was: Stepan threw all the toys in his new house into the pool, in which he loved to swim.

– What interesting things in the behavior of the tiger have you noticed during his stay at the zoo? What is his character?

– Our new pet turned out to be very friendly, his character is soft, experts even note that he behaves more like a cat than a tiger. Stepan shows his cordiality not only in relation to zoologists and keepers. He is so sociable that he even tries to make friends with his neighbors – lions. In the interior they are close to each other. If tigers live next to lions, they usually behave wary. But not in the case of Stepan. He also flirts with the lionesses, and they reciprocate, which is very disliked by the leader of the neighbors – Roxaku.

– How does Stepan endure the winter?

– He endures winter like a real Amur, since Sumatran tigers are not particularly adapted to cold weather. Stepan plays with pleasure in the snow. Lays down on the edge of the moat so that it rolls down on the back. His winter fun gathers many visitors at the aviary. Our Stepan treats the cold very well, he walks for a long time.

We advise you to come to the zoo in winter to observe this charismatic symbol of the new year and other inhabitants. You will see a completely different zoo. Moreover, only five percent of the zoo’s inhabitants are in hibernation: brown and Himalayan bears, jerboas, marmots, raccoons, chipmunks and hamsters, and all the rest are awake.

Explorer bear, giant anteater and pinnipeds

– What other animals, besides Stepan, appeared in the zoo in 2021?

– In 2021, the number of pets in our zoo has increased. For example, a male African bongo antelope was brought from Germany, which was settled with a female of the same species – she has been living in the Center for the Reproduction of Rare Animal Species since 2014. Bongos are considered wild, and we have her affectionate and outgoing. We were very worried that she did not have a partner. There were some worries about bongos from Germany. Due to the long adaptation, our food and tap water did not suit him, he had to pour bottled water. Gradually he gets used to the conditions. The female was very happy with the new guest, now she walks happily. We really hope that they will like each other.

Tamandua who came to us from Germany and Belgium became the pride of the zoo. (four-toed anteaters)… This species rarely reproduces in nature and is not represented in all zoos. The last time these animals were kept in the Moscow Zoo were in the late 1970s, and now they have been returned to the collection.

– And how are the two polar bears who were rescued in Yakutia?

– Zoo specialists do not have to be bored with them. If Hatanga can be mischievous and behave like a typical teenager, then her friend Tompa shows an inquisitive mind and qualities of a researcher. She showed the zoo workers all the places where you can get out and which are easy to break. Before them, polar bears lived in this aviary and nothing of the kind happened. In addition, a sea hare has appeared in the Moscow Zoo – this pinniped mammal will be presented to the residents of the city for the first time. This species is rare not only for Russian, but also for European zoos; it was brought from Ulan-Ude specifically for the exposition of the Pinnipeds pavilion.

– When is the opening of the new pavilion expected?

– I really hope that the Pinniped pavilion will receive its first visitors in 2022. Here you can see the inhabitants of high latitudes: walruses, sea lions, northern fur seals, northern seals and bearded seals. The listed species include all three families of pinnipeds. So, in our zoo all their variety will be presented.

Selecting animals for the Pinnipeds complex, we consider it necessary to create all conditions for the new inhabitants for the most fulfilling life in captivity.

– Where will the inhabitants of the new pavilion be brought from?

– We do not plan to catch wild animals in nature. When selecting individual individuals for keeping in a new complex, we primarily focus on those animals that are already kept in captivity.

Our principled position is to provide decent conditions for those sea lions, walruses or seals that, for various reasons, are not needed in circuses and dolphinariums and cannot survive in nature. These can be animals of venerable age, injured, illegally caught and confiscated, or that came to us from organizations that are not able to provide the pinnipeds with the proper level of care. Working with such special animals requires tremendous professionalism and experience.

And, of course, groups of our northern fur seals and gray seals that have been living in the zoo for many years will move to the new complex.

– How will the new inhabitants of the Pinnipedia pavilion be accommodated in the complex?

“We will take into account the lifestyle of each pinniped species that will be accommodated in the pavilion. All eared seals and walruses in nature live in huge concentrations and in captivity require keeping in a large group (sea lions, fur seals). Gray seals live, for example, in small groups. But bearded hares are loners.

In addition, all types of pinnipeds, which are planned to be placed in the new complex, are capable of living in open outdoor enclosures all year round, although fur seals have the opportunity to enter the inner premises to warm themselves during the cold season. In nature, all pinnipeds are inhabitants of open spaces, they do not feel well when kept in closed rooms for a long time.

The task of the zoo was to create suitable conditions for each species. This was achieved thanks to a huge complex with deep pools with sea water and a good cleaning system, cooled during the hot season, which is extremely important for inhabitants of high latitudes.

Zoo in development

– What will happen to the zoo and its visitors in 2022?

– During the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, construction and reconstruction continued at the Moscow Zoo. The Pinnipeds pavilion, a pedestrian bridge across Bolshaya Gruzinskaya Street and an additional entrance to the zoo from the side of the Barrikadnaya metro station are at a high stage of readiness.

In addition, after the renovation, the scientific library of the zoo was opened – a structural part of the scientific department. Its book fund numbers 12 thousand items, among which there are valuable zoological publications for specialists. We also bought books for little readers – a special corner will be made for them.

There is a lot of work on the territory itself. Repair of enclosure complexes, replacement of the mesh with glass. This is done both for the safety of little guests, who often stick their fingers to the animals, and for aesthetic purposes. It will be possible to see the work done this spring. At the same time, the zoo is developing not only infrastructurally. The Academy of the Moscow Zoo is going to open training courses for teachers and veterinarians.

– What other plans does the Moscow Zoo have?

– We are planning to implement several important projects. A concept for the development of the zoo has already been developed – its implementation is calculated until 2029. It includes the creation of a hospice and a cemetery for animals (crematorium), which will be located in the same space.

This program also includes the opening of a center for animals in trouble. We receive a large number of inquiries from all over the country regarding brown bears, lions, tigers who need help. Therefore, we decided to create such a center and have already selected a territory for it next to the Center for the Rehabilitation of Rare Animal Species. In this center, animals will be kept in semi-free conditions. We are planning to organize a volunteer club there, its members will be able to help take care of the inhabitants of the center. And, of course, visitors will also be able to come there.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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