The new Eco-Zoo-Corner, built in Olomouc-Holice on the premises of the Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, UP Faculty of Science, will be open to students and the public. Visitors will see vivariums with domestic and exotic animal species, which include approximately sixty species of invertebrates and seventy species of vertebrates, from molluscs to mammals.
The Eco-Zoo-Corner originated from the initiative of Martin Rulík, Ivan Hadrián Tuf, and Lukáš Weber from the Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, who gradually built aquariums and terrariums for various species of animals. “The Eco-Zoo-Corner can enrich the teaching of students and could also attract primary and secondary school students. Should they be interested, we can also set up a Young Scientists Club. There, children would learn interesting things from the fields of biology, ecology, and environmental protection,” said Bořivoj Šarapatka, head of the Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
In the Eco-Zoo-Corner, you can see, for example, African tree lizards of the genus Gastropholis, a Western hognose snake, or a Peters’ elephantnose fish, which uses electrical signals for orientation. You can also see the Western Tiger Salamander, which is one of the largest types of mole salamanders, a relative of the axolotl which owes its name to the Aztecs. The word āxōlōtl is composed of the word ātl (water) and the name of the god of deformities Xolotl. “Visitors will certainly be interested in the South American opossum, which has the ability to heal its spinal cord when damaged, seventeen species of cockroaches, or a Yellow-bellied slider, a turtle capable of surviving winter even in our conditions,” said Tuf.
In the future, the Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences is considering expanding the Eco-Zoo-Corner. “Next year, the collection could be enriched with our species of arthropods, molluscs, worm lizards, amphibians, and reptiles. We are glad that such a place has been created where not only students, but also children, teachers, and other people interested in nature and ecology can meet,” added Weber, according to whom students can get acquainted with representatives of many groups of animals discussed in lectures and exercises thanks to the Eco-Zoo-Corner.
The establishment of the Eco-Zoo-Corner was also supported by the project “Innovation of Teaching Zoological Subjects” of the Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, which enabled the purchase of the necessary equipment. The animals come mainly from private collections of the members of the department or were donated or lent by partners such as the Olomouc Zoo, Ornis Přerov, Insect Farm in Olomouc, and NaturaServis in Hradec Králové. “Cooperation also works on several other levels. Students of Ecology and Environmental Protection help as volunteers in the Olomouc Zoo, where they can work on their Bachelor’s and Master’s theses. They also take part in the popularisation of science and research in various events. We firmly hope that we will continue and develop the cooperation set up in this way,” added Pavel Javůrek from the Olomouc Zoo.