The mission of a modern zoo is to help preserve biodiversity not only by breeding endangered species in captivity, under human care and supervision, but also by participating in conservation projects “in situ” – i.e. in the species’ natural habitats. Zoos are also involved in conservation research, and a key aspect of their activities is to provide education and raise public awareness of nature conservation and eco-friendly behaviour.
Ostrava’s zoo includes a range of information panels and interactive info points, all of which help to educate visitors and raise awareness in a fun and entertaining way – giving details about a particular animal, encouraging people to take more notice of their environment, and sometimes even helping people to imagine themselves in the position of the animal itself. Besides presentations of exotic fauna (the animals that are kept at the zoo), in recent years there has been an increased focus on Czech fauna and flora – and on the importance of protecting local biodiversity. Visitors to the zoo can find numerous sources of inspiration on how they can make a real contribution to nature conservation – not only at various info points (the butterfly meadow, bee trail, insect hotel and others), but also via a range of special activities and events, such as the creation of bird-boxes, ponds for amphibians, and many more activities throughout the year.
Czech animals have a voice at Ostrava’s zoo
Ostrava’s zoo, with its large expanses of woodland and parkland, is a haven for many species of wild animals – several of them rare and endangered. Some of these species can frequently be seen by visitors, while others are mostly “only” heard – but their typical noises make it easy to identify the species. Thanks to the ‘Radegast for People’ grant programme (run by the Radegast brewery near Ostrava), the zoo has been able to build a new interactive info point presenting the distinctive voices of twenty selected Czech animal species. Visitors of all ages can learn to recognize the voices of four frog species and 16 bird species – all of which live wild in the zoo and can be heard there.
The interactive info point consists of an audio panel which plays recordings of the voices of selected animals, with information on each of the species featured. All twenty species live in the wild in the Czech Republic – and they also live at the zoo. The aim of the project was to raise public awareness of endangered species living in the Czech Republic and to teach people to recognize them in a fun, interactive way by listening to the sounds they make; this is often the only way of identifying them in the wild. At particular times of the year the twenty species can be heard on a regular basis at the zoo – making them an ideal choice for people learning to recognize their distinctive voices. The project organizers are confident that raising awareness of these species will also lead people to take a greater interest in them – and their conservation.