Спицин В.В. Breeding Centre

Breeding Centre

Breeding Centre

The Moscow Zoo has always been striving to create favorable conditions for their animals, but because of the lack of space and in view of the fact that the zoo is located in the center of a very big city, it has always been difficult. In order to provide for the Zoo an opportunity to breed various, and predominantly rare species of animals, in 1996, the Moscow Zoo was allotted the territory of 200 hectares about 100 km away from Moscow, near the city of Volokolamsk. It is a picturesque hilly area of the former quarries of the Sychovo mining factory, with streams, springs and artificial ponds. The main goal of the Breeding Station, besides maintaining rare and endangered species of animals, is establishing breeding pairs and groups of these species and developing new methods of their husbandry. Since excessive disturbance is likely to adversely affect the breeding process of animals, the Breeding Station is not open to the public.

The construction of the Breading Station started in March 1996. Six heated trailers for the staff were installed in the area, first enclosures for the animals were built, electricity was connected and the first artesian well was bored. The first inhabitants of the Breeding Station were birds of prey and waterfowl. The collection of waterfowl has grown notably since that time. Apart from the numerous Mallards and Ruddy Shelducks, the inhabitants of the ponds include Pintails, Pochards, Tufted ducks and Branta geese.Bewick's swans are thriving, raising their chicks every year. Japanese, White-Naped and Siberian cranes are also breeding successfully. A large complex was constructed for the Bustards, who had reached reproductive age. Oriental white storks started laying eggs. Wild Galliformes are represented by Black grouses, Capercaillies and Siberian spruce grouses. Two large and comfortable enclosures were constructed for Pheasants. The construction of the Parrot House was finished, and the parrots were moved in. The breeding centre for birds of prey is continuing to expand, and Himalayan griffon vultures, Golden eagles, Imperial eagles, Steller's sea eagles, and Black vultures are among its most prominent inhabitants. Regular breeding has also been achieved in Saker falcons.

An interesting group of animals that are kept at the Breeding Station are carnivorous mammals. These include such endangered species as Amur (or Far Eastern) leopard, Pallas' cat, Cheetah, Amur tiger, Dhole, Wolverine, and Yellow-throated Marten. Offspring was obtained from Pallas’ Cats, Dholes and Yellow-throated Martens, and Amur Tiger cubs were born in autumn 2005. For the ungulates that are kept at the Breeding Station the environment is almost ideal. There are white Bactrian camels, their distant American humpless relatives, Vicunas, as well as Kiangs, Saigas and Blue sheep. Mountain ungulates, such as Blue sheep and Vicunas, feel really at home here, as their large enclosures are situated on the slopes of the hills, imitating their natural habitat. All adult females of these species regularly raise their offspring, which is the main indicator of their well-being.

The Breeding Station has an interesting collection of domestic hens. The Station also has a horse stable and a dog-breeding centre, mainly for the breeding of Central Asian sheep dogs. There is also a small quail farm and a poultry farm that produces chicken eggs. A subsidiary farm in Lotoshino maintains some cattle and smaller livestock. It houses the main herd of Bactrian camels and yaks. The area of the subsidiary farm is about 51 hectares and it has hayfields, pastures, a sheepfold and an apiary. It provides the Moscow Zoo with ecological feed for its animals. The Breeding Station is growing, and its collection is expanding constantly. At this time, its collection comprises 10 species of carnivores, 6 species of ungulates, 74 species of birds and a great number of domestic animals.