History of the zoo

History of the National Zoological Garden Bojnice

The zoological garden in Bojnice was founded on a basis of the resolution of the Council of KNV in Nitra number 215/1954-R from 28/12/1954. After the fashion of many zoological gardens in the Czech Republic and around the world, the first zoological garden in Slovakia was established on 1stJanuary1955 and opened for public on 1stApril1955. The foundation of the zoological garden is connected with the then existing Regional Museum of Nitra in Bojnice, his director Florián Hodál. As early as 1943, a castle moat was inhabited by the wild boar called Mišo – the present from a forester from Kľačno to the owners of the forest lands in Bojnice. Later, another inhabitant, deer Paľo was added to the new zoo.

This tradition was later picked up by employees of the Regional Museum of Nitra in Bojnice when they were creating a live zoological corner within the castle premises as a part of the nature study department of the museum. Reactions of the visitors were so positive that it was just one step to the idea of an independent zoological garden being the first one in Slovakia. The enthusiastic idea of Professor Florián Hodál also gained support at KNV in Nitra and thus on 1stJanuary1955 the first zoological garden of the Nitra region could be founded in Bojnice

On the 20thJanuary 1955, the Pravda newspaper advertised a new position of the head of the new zoological garden in Bojnice. There were three submitted applications and on 1st,March 1955 Ing. Gustáv was appointed the zoofirst director. The second applicant Ján Kaluža was offered a position of the zootechnician. He accepted this offer on the very same dayIn addition,on14thMay 1955, the zoo employed its first employees, namely Júlia Lajošová as an accountant, Štefan Hanzel as ahead technician, Ján Ťažiar as an animal handler, Gustáv Blaho as an animal handler and Ján Béreš as a night guard.

During the first years of existence of the zoological garden in Bojnice, many companies, cooperatives, scientific institutions and schools contributed in its development. For example, the employees of Kovosmalt Trnava produced in their free time a net for the zoo animals, Štátny majetok Prievidza (or State Property Prievidza) ensured a regular delivery of vegetables for the animals, a young wild boar was moved from Bojnice to the Zoological Institute of the Forestry University in Zvolen, a wild cat was donated to the Bojnice zoo from Šafárikovo. The zoo closely cooperated with the University of Agriculture in Nitra and Helminthological institution of SAV in Košice.

The zoo Bojnice have changed its owners several times in its history. KNV in Nitra was replaced by ONV – the department of culture in Prievidza; later the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic, then on 1stJanuary 1998 it was the Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic. In the area of education, a major role was played by the foundation of a new school on 21stNovember 1979 at the occasion of the International Children Year. Today, there are thousands of participants attending various events every year.

The most important personality at the foundation of the National Zoological Garden Bojnice and during its entire history has been Professor Ján Kaluža. As we have already mentioned before, he was one of the candidates for the Bojnice zoo director position and at last, he became its zootechnician. He started working at the zoo, while nd, he became an important personality in the history of the National Zoological Garden Bojnice. The traces of his work may be found in every area of the zoological garden activity. He enforced the rule that “we do not want to raise animals in an accidental way, we have to have a concrete goal. Our main goal will be the Czechoslovak fauna which is rich enough, interesting, but quite unknown.“ He also pointed out the fact that “…we are worried about the Slovak national terminology which is not stabilised yet“. He invited the Slovak universities to participate: “..to give us a specific cooperation aim or outline an individual scientific work in the zoo.“ And while he was a zootechnician and later zoologist, he was playing an important role in the education of the zoo employees and the public as well, while promoting the zoo activities in other respects, too.

On 13thJanuary 1960 the National Zoological Garden Bojnice received a letter from zoo Bratislava, asking the Bojnice zoo “to lend“ them Professor Kaluža to help them with a zoo establishing process. This was in fact his final working period in Bojnice. The experience that he had obtained in Bojnice were subsequently applied in zoo Bratislava as well as became a part of his literary and publication activities. In the beginning of existence of the zoo, an advisory committee of the Regional Zoological Garden in Bojnice was created. At its first meeting, on 29thNovember 1955, the committee members were talking about changing the name from Zoological Garden of Nitra Region in Bojnice to zoo in Bojnice; they had also agreed on the zoo logo representing the castle silhouette on the background and a deer on the surface as one of the typical species of our fauna. A public interest in the zoological garden was extraordinary. During the first year of its existence, the zoo welcomed 45 000 visitors.

In 1956, the number of visitors grew to 110 000 visitors; year 1957 attracted 141 886 visitors. And the number of visitors has been growing year by year. The highest number of visitors was reached in 1986 – 520 729 visitors. As for the highest monthly number of visitors, it was reached in July 1977 when 185 887 people came to our zoo. The millionth visitor came to the garden in 1961, the five millionth visitor came in 1973, the ten millionth visitor in 1984, the fifteen millionth visitor in 1995 and the jubilee eighteen millionth visitor came on 26thAugust 2002 – it was a student of the Elementary School Malonecpalská, Prievidza, Peter Hlavačka.
On15thJuly 2008,the zoo in Bojnice welcomed its 20 millionth visitor. The jubilee visitor was Mrs Zdenka Ryzá from the South Moravian city of Hustopeče in the Czech Republic.

On the 1stJuly 2017 the zoo was labelled as “National“ and it has borne the name the National Zoological Garden Bojnice ever since.

The list of directors of the National Zoological Garden Bojnice:

  • Ing. Gustáv Cmarko (†) from 1stMarch 1955
  • Ing. Pavel Mihalík, CSc. from 3rdJanuary 1971
  • MVDr. Stanislav Gašpar (†) from 3rdAugust 1988
  • Ing. Vladimír Šrank from 15thDecember 1992
  • Authorised director Mgr. Erich Kočner from the 1stMay 2009
  • Authorised director Ing. Milan Šovčík from the 9thJune 2009
  • Ing. Milan Šovčík from 9thDecember 2009