Login Register

An Intriguing African Nocturnal Exhibit in Prague Zoo

 Honey badger (photo: Christian)Prague Zoo (Zoo Praha) has several zoo exhibits that are outstanding on a global level. One of the main specialities of the rich and diverse animal collection is that the institution keeps – besides the most popular key species – many less known, but really interesting taxa for the interest for many zoo experts. The ’Africa Close Up’ Pavilion (’Afrika zblízka’) is one of these specialised exhibitions where many uncommon species from this beautiful continent can be seen.


This African themed building is located near by the new Hippopotamus House which can easily be reached from the Northern entrance of the zoo. The house was built in 1956 and according to its original function Rufous elephant-shrew (photo: Christian)initially exhibited several species of small mammals and carnivores. The reconstruction of the exhibition was done in 2003-2004 with an estimated 360,000 Euro budget. The area can be divided into two main zones: the indoor exhibition area is 625 m² mostly functioning as a nocturnal zone, and an adjacent 1150 m² outdoor area consisting of conventional daylight exhibits. The visitors’ space – and in many cases the animal holding areas as well – in both sections resemble a part of a secluded African village. This „spirit” is principally typical in the outdoor area where Czech sculptor Jiři Urbánek’s stone sculptures are exhibited. Gabon talapoins, honey badgers, and bat-eared foxes have enclosures in the outdoor zone connected to their indoor quarters inside the building. In addition further species, like Sudan plated lizards, leopard tortoises, Cape porcupines, South African ground squirrels, yellow mongooses and fennecs inhabit the „ruins” of the secluded village.

Entrance and outdoor area of the ’Africa from Near’ exhibition (photo: Christian)Animal collection

The main concept has not changed much compared to the previous stage: visitors can also view mostly small African mammals in these days, but the reptile and invertebrate collection is also very diverse. Approximately 65 species are on public display inside the building and in the neighbouring outdoor area at the moment. These animals come from different types of African habitats, like desert, savanna, and rainforest. Regarding land area, the house is a relatively small exhibition inside the 60-hectare Prague Zoo, but it is worth sparing at least a few hours here as you can see many rarities, like honey badgers, Mechow’s mole-rats, Southern lesser galagos, Emin’s pouched rats and Smith’s bush squirrels.

Honey badger enclosure (photo: Christian)The first honey badgers (1.1.0) – belonging to the Central African subspecies, Mellivora capensis cottoni – arrived from a Tanzanian import in 2001. The institution proved to be a successful breeder of this rarely exhibited species: 10 cubs from seven litters were born here between 2004 and 2010.

Galagos – especially Southern lesser ones – also very rare in captivity. Prague Zoo maintains the European StudBook (ESB) of both bushbaby species exhibited here, the Senegal galago and the Southern lesser galago. In 2014 an American-Czech animal exchange happened to introduce a new bloodline in both continents, so Prague Zoo received two female Southern lesser galagos from Bronx Zoo.

The following species are on public display:

Mammals, Mammalia

Senegal galago (Photo: Christian)Asia minor spiny mouse, Acomys cilicicus
Mesic four-striped grass rat, Rhabdomys dilectus
Typical striped grass mouse, Lemniscomys striatus
Bushy-tailed jird, Sekeetamys calurus
Fat-tailed gerbil, Pachyuromys duprasi
Least gerbil, Gerbillus pusillus
African grass rat, Arvicanthis niloticus
Acacia rat, Thallomys paedulcus
Emin’s pouched rat, Cricetomys emini
Smith’s bush squirrel, Paraxerus cepapi
South African ground squirrel, Xerus inauris
Kellen’s African dormouse, Graphiurus parvus
Malagasy giant jumping rat, Hypogeomys antimena
East African spring-hare, Pedetes surdaster
Common gundi, Ctenodactylus gundi
Mechow’s mole-rat, Fukomys mechowii
Bat-eared fox (photo: Christian)African brush-tailed porcupine, Atherurus africanus
Cape porcupine, Hystrix africaeaustralis
Lesser hedgehog tenrec, Echinops telfairi
Rufous elephant-shrew, Elephantulus rufescens
Grey mouse lemur, Microcebus murinus
Southern lesser galago, Galago moholi
Senegal galago, Galago senegalensis
Gabon talapoin, Miopithecus ogouensis
Long-nosed cusimanse, Crossarchus obscurus
Yellow mongoose, Cynictis penicillata
Dwarf mongoose, Helogale parvula
Honey badger, Mellivora capensis cottoni
Fennec fox, Vulpes zerda
Bat-eared fox, Otocyon megalotis

Reptiles, Reptilia

Sudan plated lizard and Leopard tortoise mixed exhibit (photo: Christian)Tunisian spur-thighed tortoise, Testudo graeca nabeulensis
Pancake tortoise, Malacochersus tornieri
Leopard tortoise, Stigmochelys pardalis
Sudan plated lizard, Gerrhosaurus major
Kenyan rock agama, Agama lionotus dodomae
East African spiny-tailed lizard, Cordylus tropidosternum
North African ocellated lizard, Timon pater
Ornate mastigure, Uromastyx ornata
Rainbow skink, Trachylepis margaritifera
Fire skink, Lepidothyris fernandi
Vaillant’s mabuya, Chioninia vaillantii
Standing’s day gecko, Phelsuma standingi
William’s dwarf gecko, Lygodactylus williamsi
’Africa from Near’ Pavilion (photo: Christian)African clawed gecko, Holodactylus africanus
African banded velvet gecko, Homopholis fasciata
Turner’s thick-toed gecko, Chondrodactylus turneri
African burrowing python, Calabaria reinhardtii
East African sand boa, Eryx colubrinus
East African egg-eater snake, Dasypeltis medici

Amphibians, Amphibia

Karoo toad, Bufo gariepensis
Uluguru forest tree frog, Leptopelis uluguruensisMechow’s mole-rat exhibit (photo: Christian)


Achatina fulica
Archispirostreptus gigas
Damon variegatus
Epibolus pulchripes
Gromphadorhina portentosa
Hadogenes paucidens
Heteroscodra maculata
Neostylopyga rhombifolia
Pachnoda marginata
Pandinus cavimanus
Parasphendale sp.South African ground squirrel (photo: Christian)
Platymeris biguttatus
Platymeris sp.
Polyphaga aegyptiaca
Princisia vanwaerebecki
Pterinochilus chordatus
Sipyloieda sipylus

Mixed-species exhibits

Rufous elephant shrew and lizard species (photo: Christian)In many cases several mixed-species exhibits were created:

Gabon talapoin and Emin’s pouched rat
Southern lesser galago and African brush-tailed porcupine
Grey mouse lemur, Lesser hedgehog tenrec and Malagasy giant jumping rat
Senegal galago and East African spring-hare
Common gundi, Tunisian spur-thighed tortoise, North African ocellated lizard and Ornate mastigure
Rufous elephant-shrew, Pancake tortoise, Kenyan rock agama, Rainbow skink and Turner’s thick-toed gecko
Leopard tortoise and Sudan plated lizard

Cape porcupine enclosure (photo: Christian) Fennec fox enclosure (photo: Christian)
 South African ground squirrel enclosure (photo: Christian)  Yellow mongoose enclosure (photo: Christian)
 ’Africa Close Up’ Pavilion: mongoose and invertebrate exhibits (photo: Christian)  Example for signs (photo: Christian)
 Reptile and rodent exhibits (photo: Christian)  ’Africa Close Up’ Pavilion (photo: Christian)
 Dwarf mongoose enclosure (photo: Christian)  Rodent exhibits inside the artificial rock (photo: Christian)
Honey badger indoor quarters (photo: Christian) Southern lesser galago (photo: Christian)

You have no rights to post comments

Enter the zoo world!