There was only one place to take my birthday boy and that was to the zoo. We hadn’t been to the Moscow one before but zoos are always a firm favourite in our family and this one didn’t disappoint. Granted we had to miss out on the big cats and the polar bear because of renovation work* but there was still plenty to see.
Beanie-boy’s absolute favourite part of the zoo was the monkey house which included a lovely family of orangutans who put up a fantastic display of acrobatics. We spent ages fascinated by the relationships between the group, and my little lad had fun trying to work out which was the granny orangutan, which was the little boy and which was the daddy (the big and hairy one, of course!). We also fell in love with the baby gorilla and got a bit awestruck by his massive silverback father.
My favourite part was seeing some Capybaras for the first time. At the risk of exposing my ignorance, I’ll admit that I’d never heard of them until two years ago when my son was given a jigsaw of a South American jungle. At the front of the picture were these giant guinea-pig like creatures having a swim in the river. Thankfully (because I had no idea what I was looking at!) the back of the box identified them as Capybaras and it turns out they’re the world’s largest rodent. They don’t look so big in real life – or as orange as they are on the jigsaw – but it was the highlight of my day to see them for real.
Like many expats I’ve spoken to, I was a bit worried that the enclosures might be on the small side but that wasn’t the case. The animals have a similar amount of space to those in other city zoos that I’ve been to, and some enclosures (like the elephant one which has a pond so they can spray themselves with water) are particularly nice.
If you want to use a trip to the zoo as an educational experience – or just answer all those questions that small children come out with – then unless you read Russian you’ll need to have your smartphone to check Wikipedia because information about the animals (apart from what they’re called) is only written in Russian. Thankfully though the maps are in English and so are signposts for important things like toilets! Almost everything in the zoo is accessible by pushchair or wheelchair although you sometimes have to take the long way round, and there are a couple of cafes for when you get a bit peckish.
We’ll definitely come back to the zoo again as we had a great time (and as entry for children is free we’ll probably return quite often!). One word of caution from a friend of mine, most of the animals are not too keen on cold weather and tend to shelter indoors during the winter months so we won’t be going in January!
The zoo is located on Krasnaya Presnya Ulitsa and you can find it on my map here.
*Despite the date at the top of the page reading December 2015, we actually visited in August 2015 and I understand the work is now complete.