Limassol Zoo will celebrate the two-year anniversary since its reopening in 2012, following an extensive renovation. The birthday party will take place on Sunday, June 8 and will feature events and activities in honour of World Environment Day, which is celebrated on June 5 every year.
The event will kick-off at 10am and free entrance to the zoo will be offered to all visitors throughout the day. At 10.45am Limassol Mayor Andreas Christou will deliver a speech, followed by Environment Commissioner Ioanna Panayiotou and Zoo Director Dr Lambros Lambrou. At 11am visitors will gather around the Zoo's oversized birthday cake that is already on display on site to sing 'happy birthday'.
Activities will be dedicated to the environment, with a focus on raising the awareness of children through interactive games. There will be a 'plant your own seed' station, where children will be given seeds to plant, and an information spot on recycling and composting. Environmental organisations CYMEPA and Friends of the Earth Cyprus will organise interactive games with environmental themes.
Meanwhile, environmentalist Andreas Fasoulides will deliver an on-site presentation of cooking using a solar cooker. Fasoulides, in cooperation with fellow environmentalist Kyriakos Antoniou have founded Re-newcy, a renewable sources technology workshop. Among their greatest achievements is the development of the first solar cooker made in Cyprus- the Diamond Solar Cooker, which is also available to retail consumers.
Other activities will include a play dough station, story corners in Greek, English, and Russian, a drawing competition on the theme of 'how to protect the environment', and stalls selling traditional Cypriot and organic products. In addition, people from recycling group 'Anakyklos Perivallondiki' will be making handicraft with the children using recycled materials. Anakyklos Perivallondiki will also be accepting on site donations of unwanted clothes.
The inception of Limassol Zoo can be traced back to 1954 when a Limassol lady donated her pet monkey to the Municipality. At the time, the Municipal Gardens, which is now the site of the zoo, hosted a few bird species. The initial donation was followed by others, and most notably by American John Wilks who brought to Limassol a baby elephant named Julie, born at a Singapore zoo. Officially, Limassol Zoo was opened in 1956 by Mayor Costas Partasides.
The first renovation of the zoo was carried out during the term of Mayor Antonis Hadjipavlou, who had also pushed for its relocation to a more appropriate site in Polemidia. Although this relocation, and the creation of a National Park to host the zoo animals continued to be the objective of Limassol Municipality for decades, it has recently been put on hold due to economic considerations. Following the first zoo renovation in 1993, the zoo re-opened featuring a collection of exotic animals including 11 lions (nine of which were born at the zoo), two giraffes, leopards, zebras, deer, moufflon, baboons, bears, and tigers.
Nevertheless, criticism from animal protection groups over conditions at the zoo gradually started escalating. Prior to its latest renovation, Limassol Zoo did not meet requirements set by EU and national law and did not have a licence from the Veterinary Services. Animals were kept in conditions that did not abide by the relevant EU Directive
(22/1999), or by the provisions of a law passed in 2003 that adopted the Directive into domestic law.
Prior to the zoo's latest renovation, Limassol Mayor Andreas Christou had approached the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment to push for the zoo's relocation. Although this objective has not been achieved, it continues to be on the Municipality's agenda.
In May 2010 the zoo closed for a renovation and reopened in June 2012. Zoo expert Vladislav Jirousek designed the zoo with a view to improving the conditions of animals. The 'new' Limassol Zoo does not feature the large exotic animals that used to make up its collection. These animals were relocated to more appropriate sites abroad, often with the assistance of animal rescue organisations. However, the zoo's current collection features some exotic species, including alligators, pigmy hippos, owls, and monkey species.