Garden of Good Hope – The Belgrade Zoo

Situated at the very center of the city, the Belgrade Zoo, or the Good Hope Garden, stands on one of the most attractive city locations – the Kalemegdan park. It was founded in the year 1936. It was founded by the mayor of that time, the industrialist Mr. Vlada Ilić (I). It was ceremonially opened on the day of St. Peter – July 12th.

The first inhabitants of the zoo were: lions, leopards, polar and brown bears, wolves, makaki and mangabey monkeys, blackbucks, buffalos, zebus, bighorn sheep, deer, roe deer, storks, gruiformes, peafowls, common pheasants, owls, pelicans and parrots.

Soon upon the opening, the Belgrade zoo became one of the most preferred places where the Belgrade citizens used to come. It has also hosted several times the members of the royal family Karadjordjević. The queen Marija used to spend the time aimed for entertainment with the princes Tomislav and Andrej precisely in the Zoo, and the young king Peter II was regularly interested during the visits for the further plans and construction.

When formed, the Zoo occupied a space somewhat bigger than three and a half hectares, to be, very quickly, widened to seven and then, with the construction of the restaurant “Kalemegdanska terasa” (“The terrace of Kalemegdan”) and the annexation of one part of “Donji grad”, even to somewhat more than fourteen hectares, and on that surface it met the World War II. But, during the World War II, the Zoo was bombed twice: at first in 1941 by the German fascists and then also by the allies in 1944. Almost the whole fund of animals was destroyed. Due to the destruction and drastically reduced number of exhibits, the surface of the Zoo was, unfortunately, reduced after the war to about seven hectares, which is how much it occupies also today.

As per the saying of Dana Savkovic-Gligorić, whose father, Milorad Savković, was the director of the Zoo at that time, during the bombing in 1941 the inhabitants of the surrounding buildings believed naively that the Zoo would not be a target of the bombers, so that they rushed altogether to find a refuge in it. But, the bombs were falling uncontrolled, so that in the Zoo, especially in the cave which are today shelters for the zebras and blackbucks, many people perished. She saw also with her eyes how many animals, stricken by the bombs, fly in the air. She remembers particularly the image of an elephant shattered to pieces. Many animals escaped then from the destroyed cages, and those which represented a danger for the surrounding had to be killed in order to avoid a bigger tragedy. Among the rare ones which remained were the hippopotamus Buca and the alligator Muja.


Belgrade Zoo alligator Muja

Belgrade Zoo alligator Muja

The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) named Muja is considered the oldest living alligator in the world.

Arrived in Belgrade Zoo a year after its establishment, on 12 September 1937, as an adult animal, with another alligator, a large contingent of animals from a German zoo.

Today he is the only remaining inhabitants of the Garden, who managed to survive the Second World War, during which the Garden, since the Belgrade twice bombed, was almost completely destroyed. Muja is in pretty good shape, eats once a week and eats 5-6 kilograms of meat. We hope that he will still live long in our garden and become an absolute world record in longevity among alligators.


Female long-haired German Shepherd Gabi is eight years of age arrived in the Garden. It was a very beautiful female dog. She had a debt that with another dog and worker – night watchman, patrolling the Garden. Although he was getting on in years, constantly prove their courage, bravery and determination.

The destiny wanted that one night something unexpected happens. Female jaguar was able to jump out of his cage and to come over to the administration building. When the guard, who was patrolling with dogs, came to this part of the Garden, Gabi suddenly paused, listening. She remained quite tense few seconds, then speed bullets darted into the darkness, while the other dog – male German shepherd, with a whimper ran in the opposite direction.

Belgrade zoo, bitch Gabi

Belgrade zoo, bitch Gabi monument

The guard was confused, still not realizing what it was. Only when the silence of the night began to rip roaring and barking and when in the darkness he could make out the seething tangle of whom were isplitale time claws teeth time, it was clear that it was a beast. Excited, he ran to the phone and informed the police about what happened in the Garden. Police woke director Bojovic and together they rushed to stop the runaway, runaway animal. They immediately found that it was a female jaguar, young and full of vigor. Somewhere up before dawn were trying to get her back in the cage and in the end, when there was no other, unfortunately, they had to shoot. Gabi was found in a corridor in the vicinity of the cages in which the jaguar escaped. She was lying half dead, to a large pool of blood.

That night he fearlessly rushed to the jaguar, caught in the grips with it and, although it was a much larger and stronger opponent, did not yield even for a moment. Prevented a dangerous beast to attack the guards or to jump a fence Garden and after one of its citizens. Surprised the animal would not stop chasing until he cornered the entrance to the cage. Then exhaustion done to drag to the first shelter, where he collapsed.

Immediately the vehicle is switched to the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, where she washed and stitched up the wound, given antibiotics and transfusions, since she had lost a lot of blood, and returned again in the Garden. How do we at this time we did not have a clinic, for this purpose is served the president’s office. Hanger was a rack for bottles with a drip, connected chairs were bed for the patient and his desk where he was standing medical supplies.

The recovery has proceeded rather slowly, which is not surprising given the seriousness and number of violations that the bitch had. Only after more than a week ago Gabi is the first time got up and made a few steps. In addition to the garden workers, were glad, and many animal lovers and friends of the Zoo, because Gaby’s courage gained wide publicity.

Due to its magnificent feats, zoo workers have decided that it is to build a monument to life, which would forever remind you of courage and fearlessness Female Dog Gabi.

Gabi for many years, until the end of life, diligently doing its job, patrolling the night watchman or lay by the gate ready to jump if someone tries to endanger the Garden, its staff and residents.

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One reply on “Garden of Good Hope – The Belgrade Zoo

  • Emilia Velarde

    Hello! My name is Emilia Velarde, I’m from Ecuador, I’m 19 years old and I’ve been living in Belgrade for a year. I am interested in knowing if volunteers accept the Belgrade Zoo. I would love to be part of a community that is dedicated to the protection and love of animals, if you can help me with some information I would be very happy!
    Thanks in advance.


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