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Cat or rabbit? Where to look for the symbol of the New Year

Unfriendly Pallas’ cats, bobcats, leopards, and rabbits


We will tell you where to find the symbol of the coming year in Moscow. All that remains is to decide is whether you will be happier to see a cat or a rabbit in 2023. The Moscow Zoo has a Pallas’ cat and a real cat lane, while the VDNKh City Farm has the sweetest rabbits, with Madonnas decorating the entrance to the Rabbit Breeding pavilion.

What to do: wait for Timofey the Pallas’ cat and walk down cat lane

The main symbol of the Moscow Zoo is Timofey, a giant Pallas’ cat, a rare animal (there are only a few thousand of them in the world), beautiful and rather introverted. Lovers of Pallas’ cats sometimes spend hours at the cage waiting to see the cat, which escapes guests’ attention, because this cat family is known for its love of hiding from prying eyes. However, keepers advise not getting upset, but rather looking into the cage more carefully, as the animal often watches visitors from quiet corners, merging with the color of the surrounding landscape. Timofey has changed his coat for New Year’s (the sides of his body have become redder), he has fluffed up his tail, he and spends his days recovering the quails his keepers hide for him in different places. With a little luck, you’ll catch a moment of hunting or see the cat enjoying the snow.

After visiting Timofey, take a walk through one of the zoo’s oldest exhibitions, the renovated “Cat Lane.” The exhibition first opened in the 1890s, presenting big cats, and today, you can see lynxes, Amur leopards, and cougars. After a recent renovation, the cages have been enlarged, the animals have new spaces to play, hunt, and rest, and the nets have been replaced with strong glass, which allows a wide view of the cats’ territory. You can see Mizer, an Amur leopard, and Gabriel, a surprisingly sociable and talkative male cougar who meows when he asks for something and growls when he is unhappy. You will also get to know the lynx family.

What to do: to be amused by rabbits and have a photo session with your favorite animals

The main thing to remember before visiting the city farm at VDNKh is that it is not a petting zoo, but a natural space with over a hundred animals. If the animals are tired or not in the mood, they may avoid interaction and escape to their “homes.” They live in the poultry yard, in the stable, in open pens, and in the rabbitry. Each animal has its own personality, habits, and story. The keepers love to tell guests how they rescued Louis the raccoon and the fate that awaited the champion horse Vindik. Almost all of the animals can be petted, touched, and interacted with. You can feed almost every inhabitant, except the rabbits. But you can endlessly admire the fluffy symbol of the coming year. You can also have a country-style photo session with your favorite animal. To do so, send your request in advance: choose an animal, complete a form on the website or on VKontakte, and then arrange with the farm manager to confirm the time, date, and details of the photo session and discuss with the possibility of the animal’s participation. A one-hour photo walk costs 5,000 rubles, but it will provide enough impressions and pictures for the whole following year and the year after.

What to do: enjoy sculptures of Madonnas hugging rabbits

The historical Rabbit Breeding pavilion was built in 1939. It had a rotating stand at its center with plaster rabbit figurines, which were based on a real record breaker of the Chinchilla rabbit breed. In one year, she gave birth to 40 bunnies, and her babies gave birth to 133 bunnies. The pavilion itself showcased various rare breeds as an illustration of the successes of the Soviet Union’s rabbit farms. There are no rabbits living here now, but sculptural copies of them remain. In 2015, following reconstruction, figures of girls holding the animals in their arms appeared in the niches of the pavilion, and the wall frieze includes a stucco ribbon with images of rabbits. It is believed that if, on New Year’s Eve, you approach them, look at them, and make a wish, it will come true.

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