Saturday, June 2, 2012

Centenary of the Helsinki Zoo 12.6.1989

I don’t think I am the only one who’s adrenelin starts pumping at the mention of the words “zoo” and “circus”.  What great fun it is to visit these two wonderful places, and talk about them endlessly thereafter. I admit I still do. And what is common to a zoo and a circus? That’s not difficult. It s the animals, what else. Yes animals. Exotic animals. The resident’s of Helsinki, Finland are lucky to have a wonderful zoo nearby. At Korkeasaari. Pia sent me this great FDC. The two lovely stamps on it as the Cover too were issued on 12.06.1989. The animals depicted are the Snow leopard (Panthera uncia or Uncia uncia) and the Markhor (Capra falconeri).
Korkeasaari is an island in Helsinki, Finland where the country's biggest zoo is situated. The English name of the zoo is Helsinki Zoo. The zoo is located on a 22-hectare (54-acre) rocky island. It's connected to mainland via a bridge to Mustikkamaa, where there is access to the zoo all year round. A ferry and water buses take visitors to the island summertime from Kauppatori and Hakaniemi. Korkeasaari is one of the most popular places among visitors in Helsinki. The animals on display are divided geographically to Amazonia, Africasia and Borealia. Animal species number about two hundred, and plant species about a thousand. Korkeasaari has been a recreational park for Helsinki people long before the zoo was founded, since 1569. It was first used as pasture and for fishing. In 19th century, it was used for storing timber. During the Crimean war, the island was a military area. Helsinki city gained access to it again in 1864 and then the recreational use really started: steamboat traffic was established, and a restaurant together with facilities for dancing, bowling, and picnics were provided. The zoo was started 1889.
The main collection comprises mammals and birds, but even reptiles, fish and invertebrates are on display. (The Amazonia building has an aquarium department.) No big mammals (elephants, giraffes, hippopotamus) are on display, as all warm climate animals must be indoors for wintertime. There is a large collection of big cats, and the snow leopards born in Korkeasaari are famous. Two or three times a year the zoo organizes night walks, when visitors can see the big cats and other nocturnal animals in their natural waking hours. And I am sure this must be a wonderful experience. Singapore zoo organizes a similar trip calling it a “night safari”. And it is great. I can really vouch for that.

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