Nyíregyháza Zoo was opened in 1974 under the name “Nyíregyházi Vadaspark” (Wild Park of Nyíregyháza). It is in the Sóstó recreation area in a 14 hectare birch forest. It is owned and sponsored by the local government of Sóstó-Nyíregyháza.
At the time of its opening, its main purpose was to exhibit the species of Hungary. It has a unique exhibition system in which the giant exhibits are separated from the paths with ditches filled with water. Some European species were replaced with their close relatives, such as there are American bisons exhibited instead of those found in Europe. The greatest spectacles of that time were the European carnivores, the bears and the timber wolves substituting their European relatives. But as usual, the number of visitors decreased due to the lack of exotic animals.
The year 1996 brought a breakthrough to the zoo. This year, the new director László Gajdos took up his duties in the park and decided to create a real zoo in Nyíregyháza. János Szánthó received the rank of deputy manager. As life was not easy those days, Szánthó personally brought up a number of smaller animals.
At present this is the reachest zoo in mammals (especially primates and pachyderms) in Hungary. The once 14 hectare area is now 32 hectares large and instead of the former couple of dozens of animals today the specimens of approximately 320 species can be seen by the visitors. It has grown out to be the biggest animal collection in the country.
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