The Protivin Crocodile Zoo came into existence thanks to captive breeding programmes run privately by Miroslav Prochazka. He developed an interest in crocodiles in his early youth in the Station of Young Scientists in Pisek, where he gained basic knowledge needed for breeding crocodiles. He has been a private captive crocodile breeder since 1996; nevertheless he started to build his entire collection of crocodile species in 2000. He has been breeding and raising crocodiles successfully since 2005.
The original breeding stock was built up through facilities on his agricultural farm in Chvalsiny; the Protivin Zoo exposition part has been built since 2005. The farm at Chvalsiny remained preserved and nowadays it serves as a breeding and supply farm for the Zoo.
In January 2008, Miroslav Prochazka applied for his zoo licence to the Ministry of Environment of the Czech Republic, pursuant to Act 162/ 2003 Coll., and was granted the licence in May of that same year.
The exposition part itself is being built in Protivin in the historic administration building, the foundation of which dates back to the end of the 18th century. In the 19th century it served as a horse stable, a carriage stable as well as official living quarters for coachmen and was part of the Protivin Châteaux estates possessed by the Schwarzenberg family.
Following the Land Reform in the first half of the 20th century, the complex was given to the private owner who ran his joiner workshop here while other parts of the complex served as storage spaces. In 2005, the estate was bought from the owner’s lineal descents by the Zoo’s founder.
The Zoo development is being performed under strictly ecological considerations. It is not appropriate to say that the only purpose includes breeding, reproducing and exhibiting crocodiles, but also using and thereby promoting ecological technologies.
Therefore, an energy unit comprised of three geothermal heat pumps, generating a total of heat output of nearly 100 kW, was first built in the Zoo. This value matches heat resistance of the building, thus making it possible for both the planned construction of the terrariums and on the building floor to be sufficiently supplied with heat, covering nearly 2,000 m2 of the floor area intended for the crocodile sanctuary. The geothermal heat pumps draw heat from eight 120 m deep wells drilled in the Zoo ground area.
The whole construction has been divided into three phases:
The first phase, which lasted from 2005 until the beginning of 2008, meant construction of the above mentioned energy unit, i.e. the system of drills and heat pumps, administrative facilities and the first eleven terrariums intended for medium-sized crocodiles.
The project itself envisages construction of thirty terrariums providing an area of 6 m2 (for crocodile hatchlings and individual small species) up to 110 m2 (intended for breeding individuals of false gavials – Tomistoma schlegelii).
The second phase, during which large terrariums with an area of 80 up to 100 m2 are being built, has been ongoing since June 2008.
The third phase, during which terrariums on the building floor will be built, is set for completion in 2012.
Breeding and Exhibition Concept
The fully realized, integrated design exhibition concept aims to exhibit all 23 extant crocodile species. This concept has also designed to include the construction of the zoological museum, in which there will be osteological and also a small number of dermoplastic preparations of not only crocodiles.
In terms of breeding, emphasis has been put on compiling breeding groups of endangered and critically endangered crocodile species, being part not only of the entire exhibition, but also on the farm to make sure these animals have optimal conditions for reproduction.
Nowadays such breeding groups have been formed, comprising five (Alligator sinensis, Crocodylus siamensis, Crocodylus rhombifer, Crocodylus mindorensis, Tomistoma schlegelii) out of seven endangered and critically endangered species, while two of them (C. rhombifer and C. siamensis) have already been taken for captive reproduction.