The Almaty Zoo will undergo a 483 million tenge (US$2.6 million) facelift beginning in December, according to Almaty TV. Part of the funding will come from zoo patrons.
The zoo administration and zoo community board consisting of science, culture and business representatives decided to renovate the facility in advance of its 80th anniversary next year.
The greatest part of the budget will replace and retrofit open-air cages for elephants, leopards, bears and others that need new enclosures.
“The zoo hasn’t been reconstructed for many years, so we have a great work ahead. We may need additional funds to cover all the costs, some of which will be allocated from the city budget as well,” said the administration of the zoo.
The zoo has been fully supported with state funds, but a portion of that responsibility will be shifted to revenue generated from zoo patrons. During Soviet times the zoo received one million guests per year. Currently it receives half that number. However, recent attendance has increased by 16 percent following the creation of the community board.
“The main task is to invite people to the zoo. Our animals are all clean and well maintained. We also offer a game quest and a rope park, as additional entertainment options, so that visitors could not only watch the animals, but also have some fun here,” said Almaty Zoo Manager Murat Muturganov.
Among the most beloved animals are bear brothers Umka and Bimka, rare blue sheep, newborn zebras and the oldest inhabitant of the zoo, a 40-year-old Abyssinian bush crow.
“During all these years he has never come close to a person. It’s a quiet and intelligent bird, which doesn’t attack. This crow reminds me of a true gentleman,” said the press secretary of the Almaty zoo Michael Sorokoumov.
It is planned to involve experienced foreign specialists in the reconstruction process that may last five to 15 years. Nevertheless, the zoo will work in accordance with its usual hours, except for several specially closed zones.