From the very start the directorship of Mr. Vladimir V. Spitsin was an extremely difficult period for the Zoo - the “post-war” crisis was not over yet and the “perestroika” crisis was about to begin.
Urgent reconstruction was required - many aviaries were dilapidated and the budget was very short. Everything, except for the major renovation work was done by the hands of the employees - and Mr. Spitsin personally participated in everything. He put on his padded jacket, gloves and went out into the territory, setting an example for the rest of the team.
It can take a long time to list everything that was done with such enthusiasm. Just a few examples: there were made aviaries for cheetahs, birds of prey, owls, cranes, Far Eastern storks, wood grouses, flamingos, new islands on ponds for the anseriformes, and a unique for USSR exposition "Sea Hall" styled as a Captain Nemo submarine was built as well.
Mr. Spitsin personally ensured the receipt of modern incubators from Italy, where more than eight thousand chicks were raised. The Children's Zoo was built. After the reconstruction of the building of the former music school, a new Terrarium appeared, the collection of which is now one of the best in the world.
Mr. Spitsin became the first Chairman of the Council for the Coordination of the Activities of USSR Zoos. He organized the publication of the first lists of zoo collections, regular information collections dedicated to their activities. After that, it became much easier to exchange animals, plan their reproduction, and provide decent conditions for future offspring. Mr. Spitsin was also the executive director of the Zoos Assistance Foundation, which has been highly praised, for example, by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip.
But what is the most important thing for the Zoo? The animals. And the amazing results were achieved during the directorship of Mr. Spitsin. Take, for example, the Pallas' cat - it was in those years that the regular breeding of these rare and extremely demanding animals was achieved, that’s why it is a symbol of Moscow Zoo. Breeding pairs and groups of many other rare animals were created, such as Przewalski's horses, kiangs, spectacled and polar bears, orangutans, Amur tigers, Amur leopards, snow leopards, Steller's sea eagles, red-crowned cranes and other animals.
In the 1990s, under the leadership of Mr. Spitsin, the Zoo was reborn almost completely. To update the territory to the modern level within the existing boundaries is an incredibly difficult task. However, for the man who led us through the crises of the 70s and 80s, nothing was impossible. They built a pedestrian bridge, many new and updated exhibitions, for example, "The Rock of Birds of Prey", "Australia", "South America", Exotarium, “Fauna of Russia”, "The Nocturnal World", the apes pavilion, “African animals”. And this is only a small part of what has been done.
Thanks to Mr. Spitsin personally, we now have a Center for the Reproduction of Rare Animal Species near Volokolamsk. This idea first came to the director's head back in 1978, after a visit to the UK. Mr. Spitsin personally chose the site, pushed this idea through many bureaucratic barriers - and as a result, there are now more than 200 hectares of space for zoological research.
Mainly on the initiative of Mr. Spitsin, the Euro-Asian Regional Association of Zoos and Aquariums - EARAZA was created. It became the "spiritual heir" of the Council for the Coordination of the Activities of Zoos of the USSR and the Zoos Assistance Foundation.
At the beginning of the new millennium, on the initiative and direct participation of Mr. Spitsin, a museum of the Moscow Zoo was created and opened. Several halls of the museum exhibition tell both the history and development of our zoo and the development of zoos in general. According to many professionals, our museum is one of the best in the world.
The list of achievements of our Director and President can be expanded for a very long time. Rescued animals, scientific discoveries, international relations - and people, hundreds of people, to each of whom Mr. Spitsin showed personal involvement, attention and care.