“What’s the national animal of Cyprus?”, a guest unexpectedly asked while recently checking in at Reception. We think they had spotted a leaflet for Limassol Zoo!
This year more visitors than ever have arrived on Cyprus – up by more than 38,000 in June 2018 compared to June 2017 – and many are keen to add to their knowledge and on the trail of authentic cultural experiences. Londa has established its reputation as one of Cyprus’ leading boutique hotels so it’s only to be expected that we should also possess fascinating nuggets of Cypriot knowledge to match the cultural detailing of our own interior décor and styling.
Our national animal is actually not the olive-branch carrying dove depicted on the Cyprus Coat of Arms. The well-known symbol of peace is used far too often everywhere else! In fact, it’s the Cypriot mouflon – the largest wild mammal on the island.
The mouflon are a type of wild sheep. Its population of around 3,000 is unique to Cyprus and is not found anywhere else outside the island’s mountainous forests of Paphos. The mouflon are believed to be descended from sheep brought by prehistoric people to Cyprus from Asia around 9000-8000 B.C. Many ancient vases and other pieces of pottery clearly depict the mouflon and the tradition continues today. Images of mouflon appear on stamps, coins, company logos and bank notes as the national animal of Cyprus.
Furthermore, visitors and guests who might want to include the mouflon on their sightseeing list can see examples of this fascinating creature at Limassol Zoo! Located within Limassol Municipal Gardens near the seafront, it’s a 4kms (2.5 mile) walk from Londa Hotel on the way to Limassol Marina. Visitors with children should definitely take advantage of its nearby location…
Breeding and preservation of rare species
As an extremely rare species, the mouflon is strictly protected. The modern role of a city zoo is to contribute to the breeding and preservation of rare species facing extinction in their natural habitat. Limassol Zoo – which only possessed a collection of birds at the start – developed almost accidentally when, in 1954, a donation from a member of the public enabled animals to be purchased for the first time. This was followed by other members of the public donating various animals as well. Nevertheless, limited space meant the zoo could not house larger beasts of the jungle!
It would be around another 50 years before it was decided to extend the zoo by another 1.5 acres and create a much bigger zoo with environments as close as possible to the natural habitats of the animals. The new look zoo was relaunched in 2012 with a constant programme of advancing its knowledge to help understand how to improve the living conditions for each of its animals.
Today, Limassol Zoo is home to around 300 animals and birds – from lions, tigers, panthers, zebras and monkeys to mouflon, deer, ostriches, peacocks, emus and vultures. With a Natural History Museum and an Educational Centre nearby, the zoo – open daily during the summer 09:00 to 19:00 – continues to be a popular attraction for people of all ages and backgrounds, particularly youngsters.
Theme Park and Safari Ride
Young children are also sure to love the Camel Park at Mazotos – located between Larnaca, Limassol and Nicosia. While not as large as Limassol Zoo, this unique park with its very own safari ride is home to not just camels but also kangaroos, deer, ostriches, goats, ponies, horses, donkeys and many other animals. If that was not enough to keep the kids occupied, there is also a play area with a ‘5D’ cinema, bumper cars and mini train ride.
Combining an animal theme park with historical cultural interest may also provide a sightseeing trip with a difference for holidaymakers with children looking for a break from the beach or poolside. Agroktima Agios Georgios farm is a theme park in the village of Skarinou, near Lanarca, with 200 donkeys and ponies plus a perfectly preserved traditional farm house complete with original work tools.
Like the hardy mountain-dwelling mouflon, from whatever vantage point you choose there is a wealth of historical and cultural experiences to be discovered for all the family. With just a hop through Limassol centre or a leap into the island interior. As ever, Londa Hotel at the heart of Limassol, is ideally placed for the start of your island adventures!