Sofia Zoo Director Dr. Ivan Ivanov comments on the new animals sheltered at the zoo in an interview with FOCUS News Agency
FOCUS: Mr Ivanov, would you tell us some details about the new animals that the zoo in Sofia has received – the new penguins?
Ivan Ivanov: Sofia Zoo gave shelter to eight penguins, which came from Germany. They are young, they are a year and a half old. At the moment the penguins are kept indoors. They were taken out for a couple of hours and then brought back inside because it is cold outside. The penguins are well, they ate some herring. Their cage is very nice, and now we will see how they will cope with the cold weather – we will put them in a warmer place, if needed. The penguins are in a cage in the hall where the predators are kept.
FOCUS: How did the zoo get the penguins?
Ivan Ivanov: We held negotiations. The penguins arrived in Sofia under a generative loan and will stay here for about a year. Such animals cannot be seen anywhere else in the Balkans.
FOCUS: Is it possible to get such animals as permanent inhabitants in the zoo?
Ivan Ivanov: We should buy them, but their price is high.
FOCUS: Is their breeding very expensive? You said they eat herring…
Ivan Ivanov: No, it is not expensive. They eat herring, sprats… Herring is one of the cheapest fish.
FOCUS: When will visitors of the zoo see the penguins, since they already attract great interest?
Ivan Ivanov: It depends on the weather. If the weather gets warmer, we will let them outdoors and people will have the chance to see and enjoy them. We let them outside after they arrived in Sofia, since they have been kept in cases. Now they are indoors, in a warm place. These are very interesting and curious animals, they gather around people, get into contact with them, they walk in Indian file.
We cannot determine their gender yet, because they are too young.
They are still a little bit easily frightened, they examine the place. They are extremely curious – they examine, test, they jest with us and then run away – they are just like little kids. At the moment they are a little bit uglish because they are still brown, not black yet. They will turn black when they are 3-4 years old.
FOCUS: What are penguins’ habits? Will they manage to adapt here?
Ivan Ivanov: I cannot tell because this is the first time we have penguins here. The last penguin in the zoo died in 2982. There have not been any penguins in the zoo since then. We cannot afford buying penguins and thus we have borrowed them so as to let people see these animals and enjoy them.
FOCUS: Are there visitors, who come to the zoo especially for the penguins?
Ivan Ivanov: Yes, there are. We get many calls from citizens, who ask whether they can see the penguins and we tell them that when the weather gets warmer – in spring, they will see the penguins. Our German colleagues told us that the penguins has been kept indoors in winter and have not beet let outside. They have got used to living in a warm place and now need time to adapt.
On March 3, when they arrived, they went out, took a bath, swam, jumped and spattered in the water, and when they came back to the surface, we brought them inside.
FOCUS: Will there be any new inhabitants in the zoo?
Ivan Ivanov: Yes, there will be new animals, but I would rather not comment on this now. When we get the new animals, we will officially present them. I prefer to comment on the new when things are settled and the animals arrive at the zoo.
We have been waiting for the penguins for a whole week.
FOCUS: Are there animals in the zoo, which are carrying babies?
Ivan Ivanov: Yes, there are, but I am a believer and I do not dare commenting on this/
FOCUS: Are there any novelties in the zoo?
Ivan Ivanov: Yes, we have just finished the repair works. The cage of the lions will be fully ready next week – there will be a glass window on its front side. Anyway, the case is ready and the lions - Kosara and Kaliman, are already in it.
FOCUS: You mean the case donated by the prime minister?
Ivan Ivanov: Indeed, the prime minister donated the money for the repair of the lion’s cage, as well as for the cage of the golden eagle – Kalin. There are now two eagles, we found a female.
FOCUS: What about the project for video surveillance at the zoo, how are things developing?
Ivan Ivanov: Sofia Municipality will allocate some BGN 40,000 for the project. Some visitors do not treat the animals properly – they give them food the animals should not eat, they throw objects at the animals, which forces us to take measures.
FOCUS: Are there many violators? Haven’t visitors already learned how they should behave and how they should treat the animals?
Ivan Ivanov: Unfortunately, they have not. When they abuse the animals, it is as if they abuse us. They throw food. For instance, they throw cereals and crisps to the lions. The lion does not eat crisps…
FOCUS: Are there any sanctions for the violators?
Ivan Ivanov: This is an issue that needs to be settled. It is up to Sofia Municipality, I cannot make such a one-sided decision.
FOCUS: Do you have any statistical data about the visitors?
Ivan Ivanov: The number of visitors varies to some golden mean of an average of 400,000 – 500,000. The data comes from the number of tickets we sell.