Zoomania hits Łódź as thousands flock to opening of Europe’s most modern zoo

Elephan-tastic! The star attraction was the feeding and bathing time of two Indian elephants, a species which makes a return to the zoo after a several year absence. Grzegorz Michałowski/PAP

Thousands of animal lovers have descended on Łódź for the grand opening of the city’s Orientarium.

Billed as Europe’s most modern zoo development and the first Orientarium on the European mainland, the May weekend saw over 30,000 visitors flock in over its first three days. 

Grzegorz Michałowski/PAP

Grzegorz Michałowski/PAP

The elephants’ underwater antics could be watched through a specially constructed glass screen.Grzegorz Michałowski/PAP

The highly anticipated attraction replicates the climate of South-East Asia, complete with the introduction of rare native species, including orangutans, malay tapirs, langurs, sharks and rays.

The star attraction was the feeding and bathing time of two Indian elephants, a species which makes a return to the zoo after a several year absence, and whose underwater antics could be watched through a specially constructed glass screen.

UML

UML

Grzegorz Michałowski/PAP

The highly anticipated attraction replicates the climate of South-East Asia, complete with the introduction of rare native species, including orangutans, malay tapirs, langurs, sharks and rays.Grzegorz Michałowski/PAP

The Orientarium’s popularty reached a peak on Sunday the 1st of May, when at one point the crowds became so large and waiting times reached five hours, that the zoo was forced to temporarily close all ticket sales for two hours.

Arkadiusz Jaksa, president of the Municipal Zoological Garden in Łódź said: “We were expecting a lot of interest, however visitor numbers exceeded our expectations.”

The opening was accompanied by other attractions including animations for children, meetings with educators and animal handlers and other animal feeding displays, which will be a permanent feature of  the Orientarium’s offer.

Billed as Europe’s most modern zoo development and the first Orientarium on the European mainland, the May weekend saw over 30,000 visitors flock in over its first three days. UML

One delighted visitor told Lodz.pl: “A place like this was missing from the map of Poland. This is the real deal. 

“We have been to Wrocław and to Warsaw, but what we saw here, left us spellbound.”

The Łódź Orientarium, the biggest development in the zoo’s history, covers a total of around 7.5 hectares and features modern and spacious pavilions, aviaries and enclosures, an underwater shark tunnel and a tropical jungle among its attractions.

Zoo officials said that with waiting times reaching up to five hours, at one point the crowds became so large the zoo was forced to temporarily close all ticket sales for two hours.UML

It becomes only the second development of its kind in Europe after the UK’s South-East Asian habitat at Chester Zoo, and is the first Orientarium in mainland Europe.

Inspired by the Africarium at Wrocław Zoo: Poland’s first oceanarium, which also features underwater tunnels, Łódź Zoo hopes that its Orientarium will be able to replicate its success and attract visitors from both Poland and abroad

Speaking ahead of the Orientarium’s opening, last year, Tomasz Jóźwik, Head of Łódź Zoo said: “Building an Orientarium will allow for the joining together of exhibits…This will give us the opportunity to keep animals together with other species in large areas and a diversified habitat.

The Łódź Orientarium covers a total of around 7.5 hectares and features modern and spacious pavilions, aviaries and enclosures, an underwater shark tunnel and a tropical jungle among its attractions.Grzegorz Michałowski/PAP

“This will give them freedom and allow visitors observing them to see them in conditions as near as possible to nature. Above that, the development will be open for visitors all year and the animals won’t have to be moved during colder periods.”

The Orientarium will also allow the Zoo to better house and breed its existing populations of gibbons, macaques and sun bears.

Alongside animals, the Orientarium also has 14,000 plants native to South-East Asia, including bamboo trees, and will make use of a host of ecological solutions like its green roof, made up of plants which will create a separate biologically active ecosystem and include beehives and a rainwater collection system.