About to touch the camel that came close to the edge of the exhibit!

The Moscow Zoo

Published: August 8, 2013

Московский зоопарк /Moscow Zoo
Москва, Большая Грузинская, 1
Tel.: +7 (499) 255-53-75, (499) 252-35-80, (499) 766-74-12.
Fax: +7 (495) 605-17-17
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday (Closed Mondays)
In summer from 10:00 to 20:00
In winter from 10:00 to 17:00
Adults over 18 – 300 rubles
Children under 18, students, etc. – Free Admission
www.moscowzoo.ru

The Московский зоопарк (Moscow Zoo) opened in 1864 and was remodeled to its current design in 1990. It was the first zoo built in Russia and now holds over 8,000 different animals according to the official website, although I don’t believe we saw this many when we visited. The Московский зоопарк is located directly across from the Краснопресненская (Kpacnoprecnenskaya) metro station and down the street from the Баррикадная(Barrikadnaya) metro station. If you exit onto the street from the Краснопресненская metro station, the zoo is immediately visible across the road and you can easily reach the entrance via an underground crosswalk. The front of the zoo is a large rock archway with tall castle-like towers and «Московский зоопарк» written across the top of the arch.

The front archway of the Moscow Zoo
The front archway of the Moscow Zoo

The Московский зоопарк is divided into two different sections, seperated by a road and connected by a small bridge located near the entrance. When you first walk in, there is a pond directly in front of you with a flamingo exhibit on the far lefthand side and small duck exhibits on little islands throughout. Most of the guests that enter the zoo, including our group, turn right at this pond and continue to the llama and alpaca exhibit. Further on up the pathway, we had a choice to stay in this first area of the zoo (the left side) or cross the small rock bridge to the opposite area of the park (the right side). Our group of five chose to cross this bridge and complete the right side of the park before walking back across the bridge to complete the left side, but the park can be seen starting from the left side as well. The Московский зоопарк is extremely large and we completed the right section of the zoo in approximately two hours. I would suggest leaving at least 4 or 5 hours in order to tour the whole zoo unless you are very quick at observing animals! I would also recommend visiting the zoo on a day when the sun is out or the weather is not extremely bad. A few friends of ours visited the zoo earlier in the month on a day when it was raining and fairly windy. They mentioned that not many of the animals were able to be seen. When they visited the second time with our group, the sun was out and the weather was fairly warm so the animals were close to the front of the enclosures and actively moving about.

About to touch the camel that came close to the edge of the exhibit!
About to touch the camel that came close to the edge of the exhibit!

The Московский зоопарк was one of the most interesting zoos that I have been to because I was able to see what types of animals interest Russian people. For example, the zoo exhibited horses and raccoons which, I think, would not be found in most zoos at home in the United States. In addition, it is interesting to see how the Russian people act around the animals kept in the zoo. It is not unusual in Russia to see zoo guests feeding many of the animals in their exhibits (despite the signs asking them not to). We personally witnessed a woman feeding the horses a few goldfish crackers and another family feeding the monkeys large pieces of an apple. Also, since they are used to being fed by the guests to the zoo, many of the animals will come up to you if you put out your hand or come up close enough to the cage or enclosure. I was able to touch a goat, a large camel, and the nose of a giraffe that came up to me multiple times when I held my hand up to his fence. I would suggest taking advantage of this if you are able to because when else are you going to say, “I got to touch a camel in Russia.” But definitely take caution that the animal does not bite you and perhaps bring some disinfectant to clean your hands afterwards just to be safe.

One of the Moscow zoo guests feeding an animal.
One of the Moscow zoo guests feeding an animal.

Full-time students studying at a university can get free entrance to the park by simply showing a student ID to the employees checking tickets at the gate. We did not need to buy a ticket and didn’t even need to walk up to the ticket booth. Once inside, there are extra exhibitions that require you to pay to see them, such as the dolphin exhibit and the snake exhibit, but a few of these extra exhibits do have reduced rates if you show the student ID. We did not visit these areas and kept our зоопарк trip completely free, but they are easily accessed and available if you wish to do so. If you get hungry while inside the zoo, there are multiple booths throughout the park that serve food, such as hot-dogs, sub sandwiches, ice cream and popcorn. When the five of us visited the park, we took advantage of a booth that sold sub sandwiches called GlowSubs, a new Russian chain that has focused its locations mostly in and around Moscow’s parks, and the branded Московский зоопарк food booths for some ice cream!

For groups and faculty-led tours, the Московский зоопарк was one of the most interesting zoos that I have been to in that it held unique animals to keep my attention. The zoo was also was fairly well kept. In addition, students (as well as military conscripts, the disabled, retirees, etc.) are able to gain entrance for free which makes the zoo an ideal place to visit if you are on a budget. Be sure to leave enough time to walk through. The very large zoo would be able to handle groups of all sizes.

About the Contributor:

Meghan Kindy will be graduating in May of 2014 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in both History and Biological Sciences from Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina. She is studying Russian as a Second Language at Moscow State University in Moscow with SRAS during the summer of 2013 and will return to Clemson University in the fall to continue her Russian language studies at home. Directly after graduation, Meghan plans on returning to Russia to further her Russian language skills and, after a year or so of rest from college, go on to attend medical school in the United States!

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