“The zoo is the most valuable of all the foundations of the Kyiv Society of Nature Lovers, it must be protected and strive for its development”
(from the Society’s report for 1910)
“The zoo is not a whim, it is not fun, it is not an idle idea of idle people; zoo – one of the necessary educational institutions ”
(from the “Catalog of the Kiev Zoo for 1911” by E. Charlemagne)
Kyiv Zoological Park is a unique facility created on the initiative of professors of St. Vladimir’s University and Polytechnic Institute, high school teachers, doctors, public figures and many wildlife enthusiasts who were members of the Kyiv Society of Nature Lovers (KTLP).
The official time of the zoo’s founding and the beginning of its activities was recognized on March 21, 1907, when it received permits to lease the territory for accommodation in the botanical garden of the University of St. Vladimir and to raise funds for keeping animals.
In May 1909, Vice-Governor MM Chikhachev, in response to a request, agreed to install at the entrance to the menagerie in the botanical garden “a box for collecting money for the Society for the maintenance of animals and birds in the menagerie.” After raising money at the end of 1909, the collection grew to include 115 species of vertebrates with a total of 398 specimens.
From the first days of its existence, the zoo was maintained with charitable funds from individuals and patrons. The collection was replenished mainly by wild animals, which were refused by the owners and by gifts. Among the patrons were the famous businessman O. Tereshchenko, Tsar Nicholas II, the owner of the reserve Askania-Nova F. Falz-Fein, architect V. Gorodetsky, artist S. Svyatoslavsky, Countess M. Brotska and others.
In 1910, the board of the University almost doubled the area allotted to the zoo, and since then the Kyiv Society of Nature Lovers has had one and a half hectares.
Due to the fact that more and more money had to be allocated for the maintenance of the zoo, as the collection of animals increased, the city authorities from the very beginning supported the zoo and twice a year allocated subsidies – 1000 and 1500 royal rubles, although it was not enough.
On May 16, 1912, the city administration allocated for the development of the zoo a new, more suitable place with an area of 16 acres of land (23.2 hectares) in the suburbs of Shulyavka opposite the buildings of the Kiev Polytechnic Institute. The terrain of this area was not suitable for housing, but was best suited for the development of the zoo. The complexity of the terrain was managed rationally and successfully. Ponds for waterfowl were dug in the ravines, and detachments, aviaries and cages were built on the upper territory.
The official housewarming took place in April 1914, but the further development of the zoo was hindered by the First World War and then the Civil War. Despite the enormous difficulties, the enthusiasts managed to preserve the collection of animals and everything created in the zoo until the end of hostilities that took place in the country in the early twentieth century.
In 1919, the zoo became the property of the newly created state and received the status of “Kyiv Zoological Park”. The first official director was appointed secretary of the Kyiv Society of Nature Lovers, one of the initiators of the zoo – Venantiy Andreevich Burdzynsky (see photo).
In the twenties of the last century begins the real flowering of the zoo. The collection is replenished with rare animals, scientific work is underway. In 1935, the entire territory of the zoo was finally fixed and fenced off; begin to build ivory and rooms for monkeys. The old enclosures are expanding, improving the water supply and allocating a large hay area to the zoo. The facility has a veterinary hospital with several laboratories and departments, a veterinary pharmacy, a ward for preliminary medical procedures and a demonstration smithy.
The pre-war years were very successful for the zoo.
The fascist occupation of Kyiv ended with almost complete export of animals to Germany and destruction for the zoo.
Immediately after the liberation of Kyiv from the German occupiers in November 1943, the Kyiv Zoo was quickly renovated, and on April 10, 1944, it reopened to visitors.
In 1966, a long-term reconstruction of the zoo began. A new central entrance was built with premises for ticket offices and a tour desk and a boiler room, which provided the facility with heat and hot water. In December 1970, the construction of a modern pavilion for keeping birds with an area of 2400 m2 was completed. In 1972 an aquaterrarium was opened, in 1976 a complex for keeping primates with an area of 2700 m2 was built, and in May 1982 the “Island of Beasts” was opened.
In 1983, by a resolution of the Council of Ministers of the Ukrainian SSR, the Kyiv Zoo was granted the status of the State Zoological Park and included in the network of territories and objects of the nature reserve fund. The zoo actively formed an exposition of rare and exotic species of animals. Under the leadership of director Sapyolkin VP., which worked in the institution for more than 20 years until 1992, the zoo developed and became one of the best in the USSR, it conducted significant practical and scientific work on the study of animals and the development of methods for their breeding.
The years of the so-called transition period from 1992 to 1997 were extremely difficult in terms of consequences for the collection and staff of the zoo.
Since 1998, the zoo has undergone both positive and negative changes in management, structure, material and technical base, which have affected the condition and further development of the Kyiv Zoo.