Croatia is the most recent addition to the European Union. Goran Kovacevic, the deputy mayor of Split, the second-largest city in the country, has announced that the city’s zoo will close because “wild animals should not live in such a place.” It had been described as the worst zoo in the world. Animals will be relocated. The monkeys are destined for Germany and the bears for Canada, while the 14-year-old tiger has yet to find a new home, having no takers as tigers never live more than 16 years.
Not long before, the popular newspaper, Jutarnji List, reported that cages at the Split Science Museum and Zoo were small and dirty and conditions in general, poor. Visitors who posted reviews to TripAdvisor were disgusted. One testified that it was “an utter disgrace,” adding, “I do not get how it is still open” and that it was “a terrible experience.” Another found it to be “a lesson to our children about how NOT to treat animals. Horrendous!” One more put it succinctly: “C’est monstreux” (It is monstrous). One visitor proclaimed that the zoo would be better described as “Split animal prison.” The situation was summarised by the visitor who trumpeted, “A nightmare in Split – the worst zoo I have ever seen in my life.” People often commented on how sad the animals appeared. The many stairs prevent use of a pram or wheelchair.
The zoo sits at the top of Mount Marjan, overlooking the attractive harbour. It charges USD1.8/GBP1.1/EUR1.3 for admission, making it the cheapest sight in Split by a wide margin. It’s one of the smallest zoos in the world at 1.6 acres. It opened in 1924.
Local animal rights activists have campaigned for years to have the zoo closed. The leader of the group attested that bears were housed in a small enclosure and the five wolves in one cage had so little space that they perpetually attacked each other.
The zoo will be converted to a recreational park where there will be domestic animals, a children’s playground and a botanical garden. Thousands of tourists flock to Split every year on account of its rich Roman heritage, proximity to popular islands and status as one of the sunniest places in Europe.
Timothy Chilman used to work in IT. Once, in Sydney, he was turned down for a job because he was “too flamboyant” (“Someone who wears green tartan suspenders to a job interview probably isn’t going to fit in here”). Timothy then became an English teacher. University students in Bangkok complained that he was “too enthusiastic” and company students in Prague complained that he was “too theatrical.”