Natural scientist Miroslav Bobek to run Prague Zoo

Miroslav Bobek

The hugely successful Prague Zoo is undergoing a change of management. As the director credited with revitalising the zoo over the last 12 years, Petr Fejk, departs for a position in New York, a lot of expectations will be put on his successor, Miroslav Bobek, who was named on Tuesday.

Miroslav Bobek will have big shoes to fill when he takes over the running of Prague Zoo on January 1. The outgoing director, Petr Fejk, is widely acclaimed for smart management, having given the zoo a clear brand, a modern image and an upstanding reputation. But as a manager rather than a zoologist, Mr Fejk was called to task on occasion for issues regarding the animals themselves. Mr Bobek on the other hand is a scientist and will doubtless view the running of the organisation in a different light; in talking to Czech Television on Wednesday though he showed himself as no stranger to economic realities.

“It’s important of course to maintain the zoo’s commercial success, or its economic independence. I don’t think it’s possible to increase the number of visitors – the zoo has a certain capacity and it can’t be inflated more. But another part of the zoo’s economy are services for visitors, so that not only do they feel better there, but also, to put it simply, have the opportunity to spend more money there.”

Prague Zoo
Miroslav Bobek leaves the position of director of Czech Radio Online and editor-in-chief of the public broadcaster’s sciences-oriented station, Leonardo. He is a biologist with a specialisation in ecology, but Prague Town Hall was keen to point out his managerial experience from his roles at Czech Radio as well. While Mr Bobek emphasised there would be many changes to come, the concept that won him the Prague Zoo position is one of emphasizing animals within the context of their natural biotopes.

“I would like for visitors to the zoo – and even visitors to its website – to be able to have information about the animals in context. Not to just know what the animals look like and how they behave, but also what kind of environment they live in, what kinds of plants and other animals live in that environment, what threats are there to the animals... And all this ties in to a kind of cultural context as well.”

Mr Bobek is currently sharing ideas with the outgoing director to see that his term ties in successfully to the last, in which most of the enclosures were enlarged and a number of new pavilions built. A new pavilion for the elephants and hippopotami is one of the short-term goals of Mr Bobek’s tenure, as is better use of new technologies for visitors and better traffic accessibility. The Prague Zoo is one of the most visited institutions in the country with 1.2 million visitors a year, and it is consistently ranked among the best in the world. The main objective of any new director is to keep things that way.