Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Normally, I’m not a fan of zoos, so I haven’t visited many in my life.

But upon moving to Warsaw and reading “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” I knew I had to visit. The zoo played an important role during World War II, which I’ll describe more later. Recently, I returned to the zoo with a group of expat friends on a photography trek because I started a photo group earlier this spring. Every month, I try to organize a photo trek in a particular neighborhood, which is exactly what we did in Istanbul.
One of my favorite photos from last month's photo trek at the Warsaw Zoo! 
The Warsaw Zoo, opened in 1928, is located across the east side of the Vistula River in the Praga neighborhood and has an interesting history. In 1939, the zoo was enlarged to 32 hectares (80 acres) and became the largest zoo in Europe. Sadly, WWII meant an end to the zoo as parts were destroyed and many of the animals were killed by the Nazis. But the zoo director, Jan Żabiński, who was involved in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, and his wife, Antonina played a pivotal role by sheltering more than 300 Jews inside their home and within the zoo during the war. The historical fiction book based on Żabińskis’ life is well worth a read if you are interested in WWII and Polish history. I loved it!
In 1939, Antonina wrote in her diary about the zoo: “Our animal republic exists in the busiest and most buzzing Polish city, as a small autonomous state defended by the capital. Living behind its gates, as if on an island cut off from the rest of the world, it seems impossible the waves of evil spilling across Europe could overwhelm our little island as well.”

Unfortunately, WWII did overwhelm the zoo. Following the war, the zoo was rebuilt but suffered badly for many years. It wasn’t really until the 1980s before it was incorporated into the new development plans for Warsaw that the zoo began to flourish.

Today, you’ll find one of the most impressive zoos I’ve seen, with 500 species of animals, and my friends were surprised too. A flock of vibrant pink flamingos greet you upon entering the zoo. (Great for photos!)
The zoo is well-laid out with wide paths and paved roads on its 40 hectacre campus. Just grab your camera and wander throughout the zoo like we did. Unfortunately, the animals don’t always cooperate when you’re trying to take their photos.

You’ll find lions and tigers.
And playful penguins, which are publicly fed at 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. every day.
Feed me! Feed me!
And cute and cuddly kangaroos and wallabies.
Try setting your camera on the sports setting to capture the active kangaroos.
And zebras and some kind of striped donkey.
And a baby zebra (foal) and a young calf (baby bison).
A tower or herd of giraffes.
And much more!
Loved this baby elephant at the Warsaw Zoo! In fact, we saw several baby animals last month. 
If you’re a family with kids or maybe just a big kid like me, I’m sure you’ll enjoy a photographic outing at the Warsaw Zoo too!
City Zoological Garden in Warsaw
Ratuszowa street 1/3
Warsaw, Poland
Phone: +48 (22) 619-40-41
This baby rhino followed his mama the entire time we watched them.

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obat herbal stroke said...

take a rhino home :)

Joy said...

Ha ha! I don't think the rhino would like our apartment.

Jennifer L. said...

Great animal pics! I found the Zookeeper's wife very moving as well.

Joy said...

@Jennifer, thanks! Hopefully we'll see you on the next photo trek!