Ukraine is home to a wide range of animals, some of which are found nowhere else. The Black Sea and the country’s rivers teem with aquatic life. The prairies and steppes are home to bison, wolves, deer, wild boar and other creatures.
Want to take a closer look at the country’s rich array of unique fauna? Here are a few places in Ukraine that you and your sweetie can visit to see native species:
The Askania-Nova Biosphere consists of a virgin steppe sanctuary, an arboretum, botanical gardens, and a zoological park. It is home to many native species, as well as ones from other parts of the world.
This is one of the only places on earth to see Saiga, a species of antelope with showy ridged horns and an unusual, proboscis-shaped mouth. Saiga are nearing extinction in the wild. Once found throughout the steppe regions, they can now only be found in a few areas of Russia and Kazakhstan.
They also have the largest group of Przewalski's Horse kept in captivity. Przewalski’s horse is the world’s last truly wild horse (other wild horses, like mustangs, are actually feral horses descended from domesticated horses).
Askania was named one of Ukraine’s Seven Wonders in 2008.
You wouldn’t think that a nuclear disaster could be good news for wildlife. But, some scientists say that the resulting absence of humans in the Pripyat area has benefits to the local animals that outweigh the negative effects of radiation.
The wildlife that roam through the streets of the abandoned town and villages are part of the attraction for tourists who go on tours in the Chernobyl area. Lynxes, deer, foxes, boars and wolves have all flourished in the area. Visitors to the nuclear plant’s cooling pond can feed the large catfish that live there.
This is one of Ukraine’s largest zoos. There are over 1600 animals here, many of which are mentioned in the endangered species lists of the International Red Book and Red Book of Ukraine. Visitors can buy special feed to give to some of the animals.
The zoo’s aquaterrarium reproduces a number of climates, such as the humid tropics and the arid steppes. It contains both exotic reptiles and fish and species endemic to Ukraine. Young birds of prey, such the endangered eagle owl, are raised in the zoo, and then released into the wild when they reach adulthood.
One of the newest attractions at the Odessa Zoo is a 3D theater where visitors can watch fun and educational movies about the animals at the zoo.
Kharkiv Dolphinarium Nemo
Dolphins are common in the Black Sea. Seeing them far inland is far more unusual, unless you are visiting one of Ukraine’s many dolphinariums. The dolphinarium in Kharkiv is a good place to go if you want to get a closer look at these amazing animals. There are dolphin shows many times a day. You can also arrange to swim with the dolphins at Nemo.
The Dolphinarium is a particularly pleasant place to visit during the cold winters. The attraction is completely enclosed, and is kept warm for the benefit of the dolphins and fish.
This zoo, one of the largest in the FSU, covers nearly 100 acres. Visitors can see a wide range of feathered creatures in the zoo’s bird pavilion, including many that are native to Ukraine.
There are a large number of large cats on the zoo’s Animal Island, where the animals wander in large enclosures, separated from visitors by a wide moat. Other animals in the Kiev zoo include pelicans, white rhinos, lynxes and bison.
The Kiev Zoo is involved in many conservation endeavors, such as the breeding of rare Siberian tigers. It is hope that the Kiev Zoo’s efforts, along with other zoos’, will help reverse the loss of these animals in the wild.
Skazka Yalta Zoo
Many of the animals that live in this zoo arrive there injured or abused and are nursed back to health. Oleg Zubkov began the zoo after leaving Kiev to escape the effects of the Chernobyl disaster. His zoo was the first private zoo established in Ukraine after independence. The first denizens in his zoo included tigers that were in danger of being euthanized and a chimp who was rescued from a restaurant where he had been forced to drink alcohol to amuse tourists.
There are a number of endangered animals in the zoo, including Siberian tigers, Sumatran tigers, the Asian black bear, snow leopards, black panthers, and cheetahs. Primate residents include orangutans, monkeys and chimps. Animals regularly reproduce in the Yalta zoo. Recent tiny additions include three white lions and Amur tigers.
The zoo contains hundreds of rose bushes that bloom in the warmer months. Visitors enjoy the zoo’s scenic location, with excellent views of both Yalta and the Crimean Mountains.