Monday, May 21, 2012

Askania Nova - Research Station, Biosphere and Zoo-Park

The steppes as they once were
Askania Nova started out as a sheep ranch back in the 1890's.  A German chap ran 300,000 sheep on the grasslands.  In 1919 the Red Army shot the current owner who refused to move off and confiscated the property. It was declared a preserved area and gradually became a scientific research institute, along with the virgin steppe biosphere reserve. At the peak of its fame it constituted 40,000 ha or about 100,000 acres, of which 30,000 ha was research institute and 10,000 ha was virgin steppe reserve.

The research institute was famous for animal breeding, developing many new breeds of beef cattle, sheep and pigs. The wool sheep hybrids they developed were some of the best in Russia.

Wool sheep with crossbred meat type lambs. Shearing is end May.
Today the biosphere reserve and the zoo-park and botanical garden is under one management while the research institute is under another - in this case our friend Yuri.  Yuri was in the same beef and forage course as Tanya back in 1999 so the three of us have known each other for a while.
Yuri and I and some of his staff in front of the main building

The walkways in the botanical garden were crawling with snails.  Need garlic butter.


  1. Beautiful: reminds me of the tundra in Alaska.
    the Ol'Buzzard

  2. Enjoyed the pictures of the landscape. The main building looks interesting and well maintained.

    1. Ol'B, Never been to Alaska. Need to go if it looks like that. Pictures I saw are all mountains, trees and water.
      Barb, the main building is quite classic and just received a fresh coat of white paint. It is huge as buildings were always over built in Soviet times. This is the scientific building; there is a farm operations building just as big but we didn't see it.

  3. Well if you don't mind the lack of shell we have an abundance of slugs here in Washington state. I've never developed a taste for either.