The Koenigsberg Zoo was founded in 1895 by Hermann Klaas, its first director, and the wild beast show itself was opened for visitors on May 21, 1896. It was considered to be the best zoo in Europe. In 1910 its collection accounted for 2161 animals.
During the Second World War the zoo was badly damaged. Only four of the zoo's animals survived: a deer, a donkey, a badger and a hippopotamus. The hippopotamus was in an especially bad state, having received seven stray bullets when the Red Army stormed the city. The animal was found, still alive, in a ditch by the zoo. The hippopotamus was called Hans, and a livestock specialist Vladimir Polonsky nursed him back to health. Currently the zoo collection counts for 276 animal species and also some exotic shrubs and trees like a relict ginkgo tree.
Since 1990s a talking raven Yasha has become very popular among the citizens of Kaliningrad. The raven lives in the zoo, in a cage next to a poultry yard. Although Yasha had a very limited vocabulary at that time, – his only phrase was “What’s up?” – the tone of this expression in conjunction with the element of surprise could make a strong impression on an unprepared visitor.
Yasha’s life is very interesting. One day he was kidnapped from the zoo. The policeman that managed to find him claimed that Yasha had learned some obscene words. But, back in cage, the raven continued with his one and only phrase. The experts believe that this birds species can be characterized with enormous curiosity and ability to learn. But they only show their talents for their own profit.