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Tashkent Zoo – History, Exhibits, Activities, Pictures of Animals

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Visiting Tashkent Zoo is one of the best activities for families in Tashkent. It’s perfect for kids. Adults will also find the trip to the zoo interesting and informative. The zoo is large, clean and well-organized. There are a lot of animal exhibits and many places to eat, rest, and play.

The zoo works every day of the week, which is very convenient. There are usually many visitors on weekends, while weekdays are somewhat less crowded, especially in the morning. In summer there are many more visitors than in winter.

History of the Tashkent Zoo

Tashkent Zoo was established one hundred years ago, back in 1924, at the initiative of the zoologists of the University of Central Asia. It started out as a simple menagerie established on a 3 hectares plot of land (territory of a government official’s country house). By 1940’s, the zoo was better organized and housed about 200 unique species.

Despite the constrained space and other challenges, the Tashkent Zoo kept developing well. Visitors continued streaming to the zoo. The population of the animals kept growing. The staff gained a lot of experience with taking care of various exotic animals. Not surprisingly, the authorities had to start thinking of establishing a new zoo in a larger area.

In 1997, a new zoo constructed near the Botanical Gardens opened its doors to the public. Its territory is now quite large (22 hectares) which enabled increasing the standards of keeping animals, as well as building additional infrastructure, such as shops, restaurants, artificial lakes, and various amusement rides.

Animals were moved to more comfortable and spacious cages. For example, the size of the elephant enclosure has increased from 200 sq.m. to 1000 sq.m. Additional enclosures were built for cold winter periods. There are now over 370 species on display at the Tashkent Zoo.

Camels at Tashkent Zoo

Key Exhibits at the Tashkent Zoo

The Tashkent Zoo has the following exhibits: Terrarium, Aquarium, Primates, Parrots, Birds, Predators, Waterfowl, Ungulates, Small Mammals, Vivarium, Animal Breeding Station, and Petting Zoo.

All the exhibits are quite diverse. Visitors can expect see a wide variety of animals, some of which are indigenous to Central Asia and others are exotic. The zoo has all the “usual suspects”- lions, tigers, bears, elephants, giraffes, a hippo, birds, and different primates (macaques, gibbons, mandrills, orangutan). You can plan on spending 3-4 hours at the Tashkent Zoo.

Hippo at the Tashkent Zoo

My Favorite Animals at the Tashkent Zoo

Goats

The Zoo has several enclosures with a large number of goats of all kinds. Some are small, some are huge. These animals are fun to watch and feed. We always spend a lot of time near the goats’ cages.

Goats at the Tashkent Zoo

In the fall, a lot of visitors were feeding goats with dry leaves from the tree nearby and they were quite happy. Of course, they will also gladly eat the food you can buy at the zoo (see the section below on feeding animals).

Elizabeth and the goat

Predators

Our family always spends a lot of time at the predators’ cages. Among the animals in this group, you’ll find a pretty scary-looking black panther (definitely wouldn’t want to meet her in the dark alley), as well as several wolves, lions, tigers, and bears.

Something interesting always happens with these animals.

At one time, we heard the lion roar so loud that we could not help but check what was going on. Turns out, he recently got a new lioness in his cage (she was brought all the way from South Africa), and he did not want to share territory with the newcomer.

Another time, a pigeon flew into the tiger exhibit…Unfortunately this encounter didn’t finish well for the pigeon, while the tiger had an unexpected lunch.

We also recently saw a large brown bear eating his breakfast in his cage. For some reason, the food he got consisted of five or six large red peppers. That was it. Don’t ask me who came up with this diet for the bear.

Lions at the Tashkent Zoo

Birds

In terms of birds, expect to see plenty of varieties spread out throughout the Zoo. In the outdoor exhibits, you’ll find a lot of different kinds of birds of prey (eagles, vultures, condors), numerous peacocks, chickens and roosters, colorful pheasants, and even Cassowary.

Peacock at the Tashkent Zoo

We also always stop by the enclosure with several emus- soft-feathered brown birds with long necks and legs who are always curious to see the visitors. In addition, the Zoo also has a very nice indoor parrot exhibit with some colorful macaws, cockatoos, gray parrots, and other interesting birds.

Emu at the Tashkent Zoo

The waterfowl are a fun group and some of my favorites at the Tashkent Zoo. You’ll see ducks, swans, seagulls and geese of all varieties. Some of them come close to the fence, trying to take a good look at the visitors (and ask for food, obviously). We’ve had some fun moments interacting with seagulls. They’d fly right up to the fence and start making all kinds of loud noises, from screeching and screaming to “ha-ha-ha”.

Waterfowl at the Tashkent Zoo

Terrarium

In the terrarium, you can be sure to find a large variety of snakes (several varieties of python, anaconda, boa, various local snakes), lizards and crocodiles.

Tiger python

Don’t miss an interesting poster which shows snakes which live in Central Asia, explains which ones are dangerous for people, and gives tips on what to do (and not to do) after a snake bite. Let’s hope that you won’t encounter any of them in the wild, but better to be prepared, especially if you are planning to go hiking at some point.

Snakes in Central Asia

The most dangerous of the snakes in the area is the Central Asian Cobra (also sometimes called Caspian Cobra), whose bite is extremely venomous. It’s enough to kill 40 adults! Unless the person receives antivenom right away, the bite could be fatal. Luckily, you won’t find this snake in the cities. More likely, you’ll encounter them in rocky foothills and forests far away from civilization.

Other snakes of Uzbekistan (e.g., diadem snake, spotted desert racer, levantine viper) are less dangerous, but still worth keeping in mind. You can review the list of common snakes in Uzbekistan here.

Advantages of visiting the Tashkent Zoo

  • The price to enter the zoo is relatively low for foreign visitors. It costs UZS 35,000 (<$3) for adults; UZS 20,000 for kids (7 and older), pensioners and soldiers; and kids under 7 and persons with disabilities come for free. You can find the full list of prices at the zoo website.
  • There are both indoor pavilions and outdoor cages. On hot summer days, you might want to limit your visit to the indoor pavilions, as sometimes temperatures hit 100F or even higher. There are plenty of animals to view inside. The aquarium in particular is a great place to cool off and see diverse sea creatures on display.
  • The zoo has good infrastructure. There are plenty of stands which sell snacks of all kinds (chips, popcorn, cotton candy, ice-cream, milkshakes). There are also several restaurants where you can buy french fries, hot dogs, sandwiches etc. Keep in mind that some places are closed in the winter. There are definitely more options in the warmer part of the year. The zoo also has many benches. Since the territory is large, you will definitely need to take a break on one of them. Finally, there are a lot of misters and fountains that spray water into the air all over the zoo. On hot summer days, these are simply indispensable.
Kids’ play area at the Tashkent Zoo

  • There are ample opportunities to feed the animals throughout the zoo. In the petting zoo, visitors can feed turtles, rabbits and guinea pigs. You can buy special food for the animals right near the exhibit and even enter their cages if you’d like. As you progress through the zoo, there are several additional places where you can buy food for feeding animals. Normally you’ll pay 10,000 soums (~$1) for a small bag of carrots and apples, or whatever fruits and vegetables are in season. Some of the best “customers” for this food include goats, camels, ponies, bears and deer.
Elizabeth feeding rabbits at the petting zoo

The Final Word

Since our family moved to Tashkent last summer, we’ve become regular zoo visitors. My daughter Elizabeth wants to go there at least once a month. We always buy one or two bags of food for the animals and feed our favorites.

Whether you live in Tashkent or just come to this city for a few days, I highly recommend visiting Tashkent Zoo. It’s a great place to spend a few hours at.

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9 thoughts on “Tashkent Zoo – History, Exhibits, Activities, Pictures of Animals”

  1. I am not a lover of zoos; however, I see their relevance for children to interact with animals and learn about species that, sadly, one day might no longer be on the planet. I am considering visiting Tashkent in September, so I also read your other blogs on the city. (and congrats on the book!)

    1. It’s awesome you might be visiting Tashkent in September! It’s a good month to come, not as hot. And on the zoos, indeed, it’s a very good experience for kids. They so much enjoy learning about animals. My daughter is thinking of becoming a vet, so she wants to go to the zoo as often as possible.

  2. I have been to the Tashkent Zoo too, and thought that the areas for the big animals and the predators were too small and somehow sad. But I understand, that it is a great place for children to see these animals. I feel it would be better if they stick with goats, rabbits and other domestic animals. The Botanical garden is also nearby which is nice too, I think.

  3. Zoos are such interesting places. On one hand, they’re great in that they can spark interest in animals, as this one seems to have done for your daughter. On the other, not all zoos are well designed for the animals and provide a good life for them. The Tashkent Zoo can start a good conversation about what habitats and diets the animals need to live in and how we can better care for animals.

    1. Totally agree. I try to go to the zoo in every city I visit. Generally, I have witnessed rather good conditions, as here in Tashkent, or in Washington DC and Kyiv, Ukraine, for instance. I’m happy for such animals. But from time to time, I do witness zoos where more could be done to make animals feel more comfortable. One thing for sure: no matter which country, zoos are packed with kids. So it’s a really important experience for them.

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