Would ZOO believe it! Wrocław man looking to become double Guinness World Record breaker with staggering collection of zoo memorabilia
A Wrocław man is looking to become a double Guinness World Record winner with his collection of zoo memorabilia.
Dr. Leszek Solski who works at the city’s zoo as a senior scientific assistant and zoo historian, was first crowned a record breaker after Guinness officials visited his then collection of over 6,500 zoo guidebooks.
Writing on their official web page, they awarded him the coveted title saying: “The largest collection of guidebooks from zoos, aquariums and similar wildlife establishments featuring live animals is 6,770 as of 15 October 2020, owned by Leszek Solski (Poland).”
Now, having since grown the collection to a staggering 30,000 pieces of zoo memorabilia from around the world, Solski is looking to take the crown again.
He told TFN: “There are many new guides edited in 2021. Two of my more recent editions include one from Łódź Zoo and another one from Brenfere Zoo in France.”
Beginning when he was just 13-years-old, the first guidebook to start his collection came in 1966 from Calgary Zoo in Canada.
Although he had already collected a few guides from Polish zoos, the Calgary guide, he said, was really the beginning of his collection.
With Europe still divided by the "Iron Curtain", Solski’s only way to grow the collection was to write to zoos and aquariums all around the world requesting them.
His oldest guidebook, published in May 1839, is from Surrey Zoological Gardens, which was located in Newington, Surrey, UK, from 1831 to 1856.
One of the rarest items in his collection is a guidebook (c. 1970) from Kabul Zoo in Afghanistan.
Solski said: “My favourite guidebook is from Kabul zoo. It is incredibly rare and as far as I know there are only two other collectors with copies.”
Established in 1967, the zoo initially focused on fauna but branched out and at one time boasted over 500 animals including the only pig in the country.
Despite the advent of smartphones and apps providing instant access to information, Solski believes printed guides will remain in fashion.
He said: “They can always serve as the souvenir of your visit to the given zoo and also as a source of the basic information about animal species you have seen there.”