Circuses and zoos

Ilnar Tukhbatov/TASS

The pioneers of State Russian Circus, the brothers Dmitry, Akim and Pyotr Nikitin had their wooden circus built at Bannoye Lake (now the crossing of Ulitsa Chernyshevskogo (Chernyshevskogo Stree) and Ulitsa Dzerzhinskogo (Dzerzhinskogo Street)) in Kazan in 1890.

The circus was nationalized in 1924, and a new wooden circus was built in 1928, named in honour of the 8th anniversary of the Tatar Soviet Socialist Republic. The Kazan circus, due to the unsafe condition of the building, was finally closed in 1961, and the building burned down later.

The new circus was a ferro-concrete building resting on 289 pylons, erected next to the Kremlin in 1967. The shape of the circus is defined by two gigantic conjoined bowls, making it look like a UFO, 23 metres (75 feet) tall and 65 metres (213 feet) in diametre. The architects of Kazan Circus, Uzbek Alparov, Valentina Panova and Gennady Pichuyev designed the building without any supporting pillars, with two riding rings, and with all the utility premises inside the building, as opposed to outside of it. The project won gold, silver and bronze medals at the VDNKh of the Soviet Union. Its model was exhibited at the international trade expo in Leipzig, East Germany, in 1982.

A Tatar Circus Company performed at the circus for 19 years, from 1969 on. Nowadays the circus hosts guest shows from Moscow and elsewhere in Russia. The Kazan Circus opened its national circus school for children in 1996, which trains acrobats, jugglers, equilibrists and dancers. Four of its alumni work at Cirque du Soleil.

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The Botanical Garden was just one greenhouse when Professor Karl Fuchs founded it on Kazan University campus in 1806. In 1834 the garden moved into a stone building constructed for it by Sredny Kaban Lake in the suburb of Arkhangelskaya Sloboda (Neighbourhood). The building has been remodelled many times since, but it still stands. The Botanical Garden boasted one of the largest plant collections in Russia at the time, listing over 1,000 plants. Locals would often stop by the Botanical Garden after a steamboat ride on Kaban Lake.

A cavalry regiment was quartered here following the 1917 Revolution. Soon it was discovered that only a hundred subtropical plants had survived. In 1921 almost the entire hothouse froze out and all the plants perished. Members of a local research community of nature lovers undertook a restoration of the Botanical Garden in 1924. The first wildlife was introduced into the garden the same year: a wolf cub, two swans and an imperial eagle. The zoo opened next door in 1925. In 1931 the garden and the menagerie were officially merged under the name of Kazan Zoo Botanical Garden. It had a branch in the city centre, at Ulitsa Baumana (Baumana Street), in the years 1937-1952. The Zoo Botanical Garden never closed during the Great Patriotic War. In fact, animals were evacuated here from the Leningrad Zoo.

The Zoo Botanical Garden is now home to some 4,000 animals of more than 160 species, as well as about 6,000 plants of over 1,000 species. The inhabitants include foxes, bears, lions, tigers, a hippo, squirrels, camels, wolves, porcupines, hedgehogs, zebras, leopards, monkeys, panthers, parrots, vultures, brants, swans, eagles, sea eagles, peacocks, pelicans, lizards, basilisks, geckos, snakes, iguanas, caimans, crocodiles and pythons.

Additional options for kids include pony rides, the Zoo Scouting quest game, Lukomorye petting zoo, and photo opportunities with animals and in the hothouse.

Ilnar Tukhbatov/TASS

Tatarstan's first oceanarium is populated by rays, a seal, some iguanas, penguins, sharks, crocodiles, swans, and a 130-year old tortoise, to name only a few of its 3,000 plus species of animals, birds and fishes. For the young visitors, they offer contests and educational games here from time to time. Free tickets for the aquarium can be won in an online lottery. To play, subscribe to aquarium news or follow the aquarium on VKontakte social network.