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The President of Moscow Zoo, Mr. Vladimir V. Spitsin passed away on January 22, 2021. He had many awards and titles: Honored Worker of Culture of the RSFSR, Academician of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, President of EARAZA, Chairman of the Council for Coordination of the Activities of Zoos of the Russian Federation, Order of Honor, Order of Friendship and many others.

But mainly Mr. Spitsin was truly a "zoo person". His father was a general, but at the age of 17 he went to work as a simple loader at the Leningrad Zoo. Then he became an animal care worker in the ornithology department, then became a zoo technician, then the head of the feeding department, the deputy director for the economy. Soon he was invited to Moscow. In 1974, Mr. Spitsin was appointed deputy director of our zoo for scientific affairs, and three years later, he became a director.

Each step was taken with great difficulty. During the Perestroyka period, Mr. Spitsin personally went to the Tishinsky market at the end of the day to pick up the greens and vegetables thrown away by the sellers. There was no other choice since the Zoo did not receive vegetables and fruits regularly and there were no berries at all - and many pets have extremely difficult diets. For example, the health of primates and many birds will be severely affected without a varied diet.

However, Mr. Spitsin not only “put out fires” - he constantly pushed the Zoo forward and put it on the world stage. There were times when we had up to 80 delegations in one year. One time they even arranged the transfer of pelicans to the Queen of England - to strengthen relations between the USSR and Great Britain.
 
Our President especially remembered the visit of Gerald Durrell. On his visit to Moscow, the naturalist and writer was not ready for the Russian weather and arrived wearing just a light suit. Without a second of hesitation, Mr. Spitsin offered him his work jacket - the same one he was wearing when he was building aviaries - and saved Gerald from getting cold. The visit turned out to be truly informal and kind.
 
Yes, Mr. Spitsin was persistent, enthusiastic, strong person, but most importantly, he was caring. He defended everyone. He regularly wrote letters in support of other zoos. In particular, with his help it was possible to defend the director of Riga Zoo and to save London Zoo from closing.
 
He used to say: “The zoo selects the right people by itself. They either leave immediately, or stay till the very end. " Thank you, Mr. Vladimir V. Spitsin from all of us – the old associates and the new employees. From those who built aviaries with you in the 70s, and those who helped you to master your smartphone. You were - and will forever remain - our support, moral role model and a truly good person. We love you very much - and we will always love you.

Dear Friends! If you want to share the memory of Mr. Vladimir V. Spitsin, please send a letter to his work email - v.spitsin@moscowzoo.ru. With your permission, we will publish these memories on the Zoo website.