do obejrzenia wystaw
„Miasta Dolnego Śląska
na fotografii lotniczej”

Wystawy prezentujemy
na wrocławskim Rynku
oraz w Ratuszu
(Muzeum Miejskie Wrocławia)

Serdecznie zapraszamy!


Sprawdź swoją wiedzę
o historii Wrocławia
z Radiem RAM
i wydawnictwem

Zagadka historyczna w Radiu RAM pojawiać się będzie na 89,8 FM w każdy wtorek koło godz. 16.45.


26. Wrocławskie Targi Dobrych Książek

30.11 – 3.12.2017

Serdecznie zapraszamy na spotkania autorskie oraz na stoisko nr 50
Hala Stulecia
ul. Wystawowa 1



235 x 300 mm, 256 pages
Version: Polish-German


Harro Strehlow
Zoo History of Breslau up to 1945

Leszek Solski
Introduction, history Zoo Wroclaw after 1945,
completion, and a summary in English

The publication was commissioned by
ZOO Wrocław Sp. z o.o.

Preparing to Print: Via Nova, Wrocław

The Zoological Gardens in Wroclaw, under the direction of Dr Franz Schlegel, was opened to visitors for the first time on 10 July 1865 with only 189 animals.
In those days the city belonged to Germany (actually to the Kingdom of Prussia, because the unified Germany was first proclaimed in 1871) and was named Breslau.
As with nearly all early German zoos, it was established as a joint-stock company and during the first years of its existence was in constant financial trouble. However, in 1873 the lottery was introduced and the money obtained allowed for the purchase of a male Indian elephant from London Zoo and in 1875 a large carnivore house was erected.
The growth of the zoo was in the 1880’s. Between 1885 and 1889 three spacious brick buildings were built: the Elephant House, the Bird House and the Monkey House. In 1890, to commemorate its 25th anniversary, the zoo issued a hard-cover guide book with many excellent photographs of live animals taken by Ottomar Anschütz.
Prior to the outbreak of the WWI Breslau Zoo had already been recognized as one of the leading zoos in the world.
Among the most outstanding achievements during those days were the keeping of female gorilla Pussi for seven years (1897-1904) and the breeding of Malayan tapirs in 1894, a first in the zoo world.
The zoo was described as one of the best in the world by many authors including C.V.A. Peel (1903), S. Flower (1906) and G. Loisel (1907).
The Breslau Zoo was also where so called “Human Zoo” shows, organised by Hagenbeck and Marquardt, took place. Between 1878 and 1914 at least a dozen such shows including “wild tribes” from Africa (Nubians, Bedouins,) Asia (Kalmyks) and Oceania (Samoans) were staged.
Unfortunately, the depression years after the Great War were difficult for the zoo and eventually, in 1921, it was closed down and its grounds became a public park. The buildings and pavilions were leased for ten years to a private company and soon a concert hall was opened in the Elephant House and an exclusive cafe in the Bird House. All animals had been previously sold to other German zoos such as Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt a.M., Dresden and Leipzig. Thanks to the efforts of the local community, after only six years, on 1 May 1927 the zoo was reopened for visitors.
Quickly renovated cages and enclosures were stocked with various species of animals within two weeks and all delivered by the dealer L. Ruhe from Alfeld.
Having many rare species and good breeding results, the zoo very soon again became one of the most important zoological collections in the world. Among the rare species kept were a female Amazonian manatee and a Hispaniolan selenodon. Noteworthy achievements were breeding the Great anteater, African hunting dog and Tiger python.
It is also worth mentioning the breeding colony of free-flying cormorants on one of the zoo ponds. For several years the birds migrated regularly in Autumn and returned in Spring.
In 1935 the city donated 3 ha of adjacent land to the zoo. During the following years the antelope and giraffe house, the open rocky enclosure for bears and the sea lion pool were built on this area.
The first five years of WWII the zoo survived without great problems. Because Breslau was beyond the range of Allied bombers and regarded as a relatively safe place, the zoo received some valuable animals from other zoos, mainly in 1943, such as an adult male orangutan (from Berlin), a male African elephant (from Düsseldorf) and a female Indian elephant and some chimpanzees (from Nuremberg).
In August 1944, by a special order from Hitler, the city of Breslau was declared a fortress (Festung Breslau) and, as such, was defended even longer then Berlin itself until May 6, 1945.
In March 1945, all dangerous animals, such as lions, tigers, hyenas, bears and elephants, were shot by a special German army commando. Most of the other animals died due to the cold, while others (such as birds and monkeys) simply escaped from the damaged cages. In general, the city, including the zoological gardens, was 80% destroyed. In such tragic circumstances eighty years of the German history of Breslau Zoo came to the end.
The territorial changes of Poland after World War II were very extensive. Poland’s borders were redrawn in accordance with decisions made by the Allies at the Potsdam Conference in July and August 1945.
The western border of Poland was defined by the Oder and Neisse rivers so the former German city Breslau (now renamed with its historical Polish name Wrocław) was incorporated into Polish territory.
A Polish administration took over the ruined city at the end of May 1945 and no priority was given to keeping the zoo running.
All survived animals of the former Zoologischer Garten Breslau, fewer than 300 specimens (out of over 2000 in December 1944) were sent to other Polish zoos in Poznan, Lodz and Kracow and the grounds were closed down for the second time in its history.
Once again, this time thanks to the initiative of the inhabitants of Wroclaw, mainly from the scientific community of the newly established Wroclaw University, the zoo was opened for the third time on 18 July 1948.
The first Polish director, Karol Lukaszewicz, who before the war was connected with Kracow Zoo, was lucky to get back most of the animals from the above mentioned zoos. The enclosures were repaired and all old animal houses were reconstructed. For the first five years the zoo was under the administration of Wroclaw University.
In 1953 it became the municipal zoological gardens. In 1952 the zoo received a pair of orang-utans, in 1953 three saiga antelopes and in 1955 the first postwar female Indian elephant and a rare male South-China subspecies of the tiger. In 1957 the area of the zoo was doubled (up to 28 ha) by adding neighbouring land on the eastern side. Under the directorship of Karol Lukaszewicz, the animal collection of Zoo Wroclaw become again one of the most important in the world.
The excellent tradition was continued by his successor, Dr Antoni Gucwinski, who started his tenure in Autumn 1966.
After 1970 the zoo became even more popular, thanks to the weekly television series “With the Camera among the animals” hosted by director Gucwinski and his wife Hanna. Very soon they became true TV stars.
In 1971 the zoo received its first pair of young lowland gorillas. In 1972 the zoo hosted the International Conference of Zoo Animal Diseases and later, in 1986, that of the IUDZG (InternationaI Union of the Directors of Zoological Gardens). In early 1990 Mr. and Mrs. Gucwinski became engaged in politics and, as a result, the zoo entered into years of stagnation and lost its leading position in the international community.
A generational change in the position of Zoo Wroclaw’s director took place in January 2007, when the tenure was taken over by Mr. Radoslaw Ratajszczak, the former vice director of Poznań Zoo. He began the process of rebuilding and modernization of animal exhibits, buildings and enclosures.
Among the first were the Lemur island, Butterfly room, Gibbon pagoda and spacious wooded enclosure for Brown bears (2008), followed by a modernised Sea lion pool, Desert pavilion and Lesser panda exhibit (2009).
On 1 January 2010 Zoo Wroclaw became the first zoo in Poland to cease being a municipal establishment and become a limited liability company.
In 2010 the old small mammal house was rebuilt as the Madagascar Pavilion and the Odra River entrance was renovated and opened for visitor access.
In 2012 a start was made on the Africarium and the new Indian Rhino Pavilion was made available for viewers. In 2013 the rebuilding and modernization of the main entrance was completed and the Okapi Pavilion erected.
On 26 October 2014 the huge pavilion of the Africarium was officially opened to visitors. The general conception is to show the chosen ecosystems of Africa linked by the salt and fresh waterways. The main exhibits are: Red Sea coral reef, Nile hippo exhibit, lakes Malawi and Tanganyika, Mozambique Channel (with the 20 m long acrylic tunnel), African fur seal and Cape penguin exhibits and Congo river jungle (with manatees among other species). The Africarium is a three storey building with an area of nearly 18,000 m2 and a total water volume of 15,000 m3.
Currently, Zoo Wroclaw is home to more than 15,000 animals representing 1,000 species. Among them are such rarities as the Balabac mouse deer, Philippine scops owl, Luzon giant cloud rat, manatees, Red and white giant flying squirrel, Bear cuscus and the last specimen in Europe of the Red hartebeest (male).
In 2014 the number of visitors reached 861,000, which is the best result in the entire history of the zoo.
In 2015 Zoo Wroclaw is celebrating its 150th anniversary. In September 2015 Zoo Wroclaw is hosting the annual conference of EAZA. It is the right occasion to present the German and Polish achievements in the form of historical articles and presentations, exhibits and this commemorative book.

Leszek Solski

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