Saint Petersburg


From Raccoons To Axolotls


The wild animal population of St. Petersburg is extremely varied. Some of them can even be stroked as well as watched.

The “residents” of the St. Petersburg Dolphinarium (19 Konstantinovsky Pr. T: 610 5515) include Black Sea bottlenose dolphins, white polar beluga whales, Northern sea-lions and a Pacific walrus named Svyatogor. Visitors can watch a show featuring these “artists”, sometimes in a mixed format. However, probably the most pleasant option, for adults and children alike, is the chance to get close to the dolphins and whales, even as far as splashing around in the pool with them. An alternative venue is the Dolphinarium at the “RIO” Shopping & Entertainment Complex (2 Ul. Fuchika. T: 925 4282), which has seals as well as dolphins.

The Oceanarium (“Neptun” Shopping & Entertainment Complex, 86 Ul. Marata. T: 448 0077) can boast a wide assortment of denizens of the deep and amphibians from the world’s oceans, as well as reptiles. This venue also has its “stars” — the skates, for instance, which constantly hose down overcurious visitors, or the sharks and seals which perform solo items in special shows. The Oceanarium also has a diving centre, which trains divers under the international PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) system.

The “Mindo” complex (12 Ul. Pravdy. T: 575 7070) is a museum, temple and butterfly house rolled into one. You can see several dozen species of tropical butterflies and moths, some of them bred on the premises — species which inhabit Southeast Asia, Central and South America, Africa and Australia. But the display at “Mindo” is not limited to butterflies: the complex is also home to harvester ants, which live in a stand designed to resemble a Soviet town, and all kinds of exotic creatures of various sizes — from a Yemeni chameleon to an axolotl.

Raccoons are renowned for their extraordinary behaviour: for example, they wash and dry their food and belongings more carefully than some two-legged animals, and their communicability sometimes takes on frankly gypsy forms. You can see all this at “Yenotovil” (“Raccoonville”) (133 Ligovsky Pr.; 2 Ligovsky Per. T: (921) 402 2313). You are allowed to stroke the raccoons, pick them up, cuddle them, etc. There is even a special “raccoon therapy” service. To avoid any misunderstandings the organizers strongly recommend visitors to study the rules on contact with their inquisitive charges in advance.

There are always plenty of good reasons for visiting one of the oldest menageries in Russia, the Leningrad Zoo (1 Alexandrovsky Park, T: 233 2654). Among the most recent has been the birth of three African lions whose names — Rudo, Neo and Lulu — were chosen by visitors. Another new arrival is the young polar bear Haarchaana. By the way, this animal was greeted personally by the Governor when it arrived from Yakutia. Last year Haarchaana’s grandmother Uslada, a long-term resident of the zoo, celebrated her thirtieth birthday, a very venerable age for a polar bear.

Where St.Petersburg

March 2019

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