On 12 February, Russia’s first zoo will celebrate its 155th anniversary. To mark the occasion, the original Pallas’s cat bas-relief will be put back on the zoo’s main entrance.
Between 1987 and 2013, the golden bas-relief with the wording Moscow Zoo, adorned the arch of the main entrance. The Pallas’s +cat became an inseparable part of the original zoo logo and can now be placed back where it used to be since renovation work has been done.
“For over 30 years the cat was the Moscow Zoo symbol as well as talisman. It is not by accident that it was the Pallas’s Cat. Our zoo was the first in the world that managed to breed these cats in captivity. The population of this rare cat is decreasing steadily. Since 1975 the Moscow zoo has received over 140 cubs that later had heathy litters in other zoos across the world,” Moscow Zoo general director Svetlana Akulova said.
She added that in 2013, the bas-relief had to be dismantled due to repair work. The cat was cracked and certain parts were missing. During restoration work, the bas-relief was replaced with sculptures of swans. The bas-relief has now been regilded so it shouldn’t need any further work done on it for years. It will be put back in its original place this spring.
During the anniversary year, the Moscow Zoo will see many changes. For instance, all the sign posts, information stands and steles will be done up and adorned with the image of the Pallas’s cat. Zoo visitors will get an opportunity to attend various events, from themed festivals and exhibitions to public discussions, lectures, seminars and films. The main subject will be the rich historical heritage of the zoo.
Svetlana Akulova noted that the main goal of all the events is to acquaint people with the history about the zoo and what it has been doing to preserve rare animals.
The Pallas’s Cat is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Near Threatened, as well as in the Russian Red Data Book. This particular cat lives in montane grasslands and steppes. In Russia, they inhabit southern Siberia. A family of five cats lives at the Moscow Zoo. They are very cautious but quite popular due to their distinctive appearance. They have thick fur and expressive eyes.
The Moscow Zoo was founded on 12 February (New Style) in 1864 at the initiative of the Russian Imperial Society for Acclimatisation of Animals and Plants. Enthusiasts and philanthropists presented the first animals. The zoo is currently expanding its collection, which comprises over 1,000 species and 10,000 animals and birds. In 2017, it got its first aardvark and three pairs of gentoo penguins. In 2018, it received two Amur tigers and a secretary bird.
The Moscow Zoo is taking part in important European programmes to preserve such rare animals as polar bears, Amur tigers, Far Eastern leopards, Steller’s sea eagles, Sichuan takins and Pallas’s cats.