The weather is finally warming up and you can plan all sorts of outdoor activities with kids. One of the best places for them in Prague is the Zoo. In 2007 it was voted the 7th best zoo in the world by the Forbes Traveler Magazine and in 2014 it also got the 7th place in the best zoo’s in the world list compiled by the TripAdvisor, so you kind of already get an idea that it must be pretty special.
The Prague Zoo is very large (58ha = 143acre) and is situated on a hill, kind of forcing you to do even more exercise by walking up and down. That location is quite handy for mountain goats – they’ve got something very close to their natural habitat.
There’re several entrances to the Zoo and you can choose whether to enter it from the top one, so that you walk down first and then go back up on another side, or there’s a middle entrance and the one at the bottom. If you feel like going around the whole territory in one day, it would be hard to avoid steep hills. What could help you, though, would be a chair lift (not suitable for those with a stroller) and a little ‘train’ going around the zoo along the set routes – it’s quite a nice way to have a break, while enjoying the view and climbing uphill at the same time.
Although any zoo can be viewed in a negative light, due to holding wild animals in captivity, Prague Zoo at least feels like a lot of thought and effort was put into designing the enclosures, making them spacious, using water or in some cases glass separation instead of cages. African section was particularly impressive with giraffes and zebras roaming the fields without visible borders. This particular Zoo contributes a lot to saving endangered species, for example, for many years it was the biggest breeder of Przewalski’s horse in the world.
Taking into account our experience of traveling with small kids, we decided not to take it easy, book a hotel in Prague and explore the Zoo in small portions, 3-4 hours at a time. Kids take their time walking around and you don’t need to rush them. When they get tired, you can always go back to the hotel, relax, have a nap and a meal, go for a stroll in the city and come back the next day all fresh and ready for adventure.
When you go to Prague Zoo, please, make sure you’ve got cash on you – none of the cafes accept cards and there’s only one cash point by the main entrance. On one of our visits, the cash point didn’t work so we had to be very careful with the coins we did have, making sure we could at least afford a lunch.
The Zoo is designed in a way that it makes it even more fun for the kids, getting really close to the animals, being able to see them and (in some cases) touch them as well.
At one point we became spectators of a very interesting display, courtesy of local Komodo dragons. Two of them were in enclosures one next to another, separated by a bamboo fence. One of the dragons made a real effort to climb across a section, which was the lowest, but it was also just above the water area. He climbed, struggled, almost fell down, hanging by just his front paws – real perseverance. My sister and I watched and thought ‘oooohhh, how sweet! he’s probably trying to climb across to get to that smaller dragon, who must be a female!’. Finally, that big guy got to his neighbour only to charge into a full blown attack! Fangs and claws – all of it in action, pretty scary. Thankfully, one of the Zoo keepers came in shortly to separate them (which was a very difficult task).
One of the greatest places in the Zoo (according to my kids) is a huge, enormous play ground! When my daughter first walked through the gates and saw THAT – her jaw dropped. Literally. Adults could also climb in and some of them (including my sister) thoroughly enjoyed it.
Prague Zoo is a must see, if you have kids and even if you don’t. Animals, landscape, play areas guarantee a great day out. Please, visit the Zoo’s website for contacts and opening times.