Squirrels, ducks and swans: who appeared in Moscow parks in the mid-20th century

December 30, 2021
Parks and pedestrian areas

In the 1930s, parks of culture and recreation began to be created in Moscow. Gorky Park was one of the first to open in 1929, then Sokolniki and Stalin Park (today Izmailovsky Park) were opened in 1931, and Dzerzhinsky Park (currently Ostankino) was opened in 1932. The Muscovites quickly liked them and they became a place of rest for many citizens.

On December 14, 1956, the Moscow City Council decided to enrich the capital fauna and settle animals and birds in parks that had not lived there before. The text of the relevant document is kept in the Glavarchiv (Moscow Main Archive Department).

At first, aviaries enclosures have been built in the parks, where squirrels, chipmunks and other small animals, as well as songbirds were kept.  Zoocenter specialists of the Main Directorate of Hunting Farms and Reserves under the RSFSR Council of Ministers brought to Moscow about 10 species of birds and animals, including ducks, swans and squirrels.

Not all the brought animals were kept in open-air cages, some of them were released into the wild. So, almost 100 squirrels settled in Gorky Park in the spring of 1957. Nests were made for them and they fed regularly, so the animals went through the acclimatization process quite easily and quickly. By 1 May 1957, 30 swans and 100 ducks appeared on the VDNKh ponds. More than 70 swans and 50 ducks settled in other metropolitan parks.

In 1957, more than 20 ponds were populated with fish. In addition, employees of the Department of Improvement, Culture and Landscaping had to carefully ensure that exotic fish lived in pools and fountains controlled by them from May to October.

On the zoo-processing plant basis, they began to build a workshop where they planned to manufacture aquariums, cages, terrariums and other equipment for fish, animals and birds. In addition, the production of feed was increased for representatives of the local fauna: in 1957, 600 tons of cereals, legumes and oilseeds were prepared by the General Directorate of Trade.

At the same time, they began to conduct educational work, especially among children. Young citizens were introduced to the rules of protection and breeding of animals and birds in the city and beyond. In schools, orphanages, pioneer homes, boarding schools, at the stations of young naturalists, they began to create “zoo corners”, where aquarium fish, songbirds, pigeons, squirrels and other small animals were kept. Every year, the exhibition of pigeons belonging to enterprises, institutions and amateur pigeon breeders began to be held at VDNKh.

The city also established a Bird Day — it was celebrated on the first Sunday of April. On this day, in the Zoo, parks, museums and other places, Muscovites were told about the feathered inhabitants of the capital and taught how to care for them.

The measures taken in 1956–1957 made it possible to increase the biodiversity of the city. In the capital's parks, new inhabitants settled in, and Muscovites found out more about animals and learned how to protect them.

Source: mos.ru

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