Cyprus Mail

Paphos zoo celebrates new arrivals

By Bejay Browne

PAPHOS Zoo is celebrating the birth of a number of animals and birds and is anticipating the arrival of their first penguins, but they say they are concerned about the falling numbers of Cypriot visitors this year.
Zoo owner Christos Christoforou says that numbers of local visitors have dropped by more than fifty per cent due to the financial crisis.
“We are waiting to see how many visitors will come to the park in August, but locals visiting have dropped by more than half since last year. Even though the prices are very reasonable, they don’t seem to have the money to spend,” Christoforou said, adding they first noticed the drop over Easter.
But he added that the zoo is playing a guessing game, as they believe that more locals will holiday at home this year and that may boost numbers. Locals also enjoy a special entrance fee compared with tourists.
He said overall numbers of visitors to the park are on a par with last year as more tourists are visiting the zoo.
“We have managed to cover the deficit in local numbers with greater numbers of overseas visitors. We have increased our advertising with tour operators, travel agencies and hotels,” he said.
Christoforou said that the park is about to accept their first penguins, once all of the relevant paperwork is completed. The new penguin house, which is about 180 m2 will provide a roomy home for the four new African penguins, which will soon be on their way to Cyprus from Europe, he said.
“These are African penguins, so they are used to the heat. These are not the type which is found at the South Pole. We expect to have them within a month.”
Meanwhile, zoo numbers are increasing with a number of the birds and animals having given birth recently, including Patagonian Mara (a large rodent), flamingos and deer.
“We are delighted to announce the arrival of two babies to a pair of Patagonian Mara. They only arrived at the zoo last summer and they have settled in very well.”
The animal lover added that the first baby Caribbean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) was also born at the zoo just a few weeks ago.
“This was great news, as it the first time we have been successful in breeding any of the two different species of flamingo that we have kept at the zoo since we opened.”
Christoforou added that as the pair of lions is also now ‘showing love’, he believes the first lion cubs will be born at Paphos zoo next year.
“We are also hoping that the tigers will produce young next year and the giraffes in 2015,” he said.
The zoo was initially started as a private concern by Christoforou who has a passion for birds and wildlife; to house his enormous private collection of birds. But he says that he later decided to open the park to the public.
The zoo took three years to complete and opened to the public in September 2003.
It covers an area of 1000 m2 and is now home to lions, tiger, giraffes, and a number of successful breeding programmes are in place.
During August the zoo will be open an extra hour from 9am-7pm, normal opening times- 9-6pm –will resume in October.

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