I hadn’t been to the Prague Zoo for a few years and didn’t remember it as anything special. It was badly damaged in the 2002 flood and when I was there a year or two later, there was lots of reconstruction and new construction going on. Lots of promise in the air, but a pretty bare place at the moment. When I recently revisited, I was surprised not only by how different the zoo looked and felt, but mainly by the modestly displayed sign listing the top world zoos selected by Forbes Traveler Magazine in November 2007. The Prague Zoo was highlighted at line 7.
What an unbelievable achievement for the small, even intimate ‘garden’ that was hit so hard by disaster only seven years ago! In fact, ‘intimate’ must be one of the factors that put the zoo so high on the list. This is where I studied a gorgeous six foot tiger from six inches away and stared in the face of a disturbingly human looking gorilla lounging some four feet away from me.
Besides feeling intimate, the zoo projects a friendly atmosphere towards its visitors. It is very child oriented with fun little play areas for kids. You can borrow a stroller or cart to push or pull your little ones around. You can even bring your dog with you, and you’ll see plenty of them around.
Another thing that made me feel good at the Prague Zoo is the environment that’s been created there. Gravel paths, wooden boardwalks and lots of greenery make it feel very natural and pleasant to walk around.
And here’s the Forbes Traveler Magazine’s list of The World’s Best Zoos:
1. Animal Kingdom, Orlando
2. Basel Zoo, Switzerland
3. Beauval Zoo, France
4. Berlin Zoological Garden, Germany
5. Bronx Zoo, New York
6. Chester Zoo, U.K.
7. Prague Zoological Garden, Czech Republic
8. National Zoological Gardens of South Africa
9. San Diego Zoo, California
10. Schönbrunner Zoo, Austria
11. Singapore Zoo
12. Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Washington DC
13. Taronga and Western Plains Zoo, Sydney
14. Toronto Zoo
15. Ueno Zoological Gardens, Tokyo, Japan