TBILISI, DFWatch–After being partly destroyed by a flood a month ago, Tbilisi Zoo will move into a new facility to be built on the shores of Tbilisi Reservoir, the largest lake in the capital.
Reflecting on the future of the zoo, director Zurab Gurielidze and spokesperson Mzia Sharashidze said at a press conference Friday that the new facility will have a much larger area at its disposal; 47 acres compared to the 9 acres the old one had.
They said that foreign zoo experts have looked at the new site and all of them approved of the place.
“It is not necessary to have the zoo in the center of the city in order for people to visit it. The suburbs are well suited and quite near,” Sharashidze said.
Gurielidze said it will cost about USD 50-60 million to build the new zoo and the chosen blueprint was designed by an Irish company, which was the cheapest one that complied with the requirements.
He said it is not yet clear how the new zoo will be financed, but they are working with the government to find financing. No-one has so far contacted him or the zoo about billionaire and former PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s promise to contribute, he added.
Much clean-up work still remains to be done at the old zoo, which lies in the city center at a major traffic junction and was hit by a tsunami-like flood wave in the night of June 13-14. It is not likely to reopen until September.
Tbilisi Zoo lost over half of its animals. Few of the predators survived. Some animals escaped their cages and wandered about the city. Most of them were shot. A white tiger which managed to hide from sight attacked and killed a man at a warehouse a few days after the flood.