The History of The Garden


Guldborgsund Zoo & Botanisk Have (originally Nykøbing F. Zoologiske Have) emerged when the 20 year old Carl Heinz Krag in 1933 accepted the offer from the town council of Nykøbing F. to get an area close to the forest Vesterskoven for free if he moved his private zoo to the town. With help from local investors and the income from a repair exhibition which he arranged at the circus area in Nørregade, Carl Heinz Krag earned some money to start the park.

With entrance prices of only 0,50 DKK for adults and 0,25 DKK for children, the garden became a big success. Thus already in 1935 an extension was actual on the area which the municipality had promised Carl Heinz Krag, if the garden was a success. At that time the garden was a real family firm, as there were no real employees, Carl Heinz Krag, his brothers and his parents worked with the animals. There were however some voluntary helpers, such as the boy Mogens Olsen, who later on would play a part in the history of the garden.

In the fall 1940 Carl Heinz Krag and the investors have to close the park because of the war, which led to rationing of animal feed and missing guests, as no one could afford to come from far a way to see the tourist attraction. In 1942 the municipality gives a group of citizens’ permission to use the shut down garden as rabbit farm. The meat and the furs were a good supplement during the rationing of the war, and the farm was driven until 1947, where the demand had fallen, and it was again considered to have exotic animals.

In 1947 farmer Jacob Hansen from Stubbekøbing took over the garden from the municipality and he functioned as investor and daily leader of the garden. To help with the construction of the garden, Mogens Olsen again came as a voluntary employee. As there were no technical maps of the garden, Mogens Olsens knowledge of the installations from the time together with Carl Heinz were a big help. Mogens did also build everything in wood for the garden and as a smith´s apprentice he could also forge grates for the cages.

Jacob Hansen did not have a superior plan for the specific animals in the garden, and therefore there was mainly filled with surplus animals from other zoological gardens. With his flair for the things which could catch the interest of the audience he started a children´s circus called “Cirkus Zoo”.

In “Cirkus Zoo” up to 30 voluntary children could perform together with the animals of the garden in training of horses, acrobatics, trapeze and many other things. The children´s zoo was a big success, with performances 1-2 times a week in a ring under the open sky.

When Jacob Hansen ended as leader of Nykøbing Falsters Zoologiske Have in 1956, he moved together with some of the animals to a shut down zoo in Trædballehus at Vejle. After a period he started the Lions Park Løveparken in Givskud.

In 1957 Mogens Olsen took over the lease of Nykøbing Falster Zoologiske Have, which at that time was so decayed that nothing could be used. Thus Mogens Olsen hat to rebuild the garden from scratch, he did for instance dig a bear grotto with his hands. There were no animals left in the garden, as Jacob Hansen had taken them to Trædballehus. Here the original creator of the garden Carl Heinz Krag helped Mogens Olsen with surplus animals from his pet shop. Until his death in 1970 Carl Heinz Krag followed the development of the garden with interest and delivered many animals to the garden, as he trusted that Mogens Olsen would carry on the garden in his spirit.

At the end of the 1960-ties there were new rules and laws which meant that you without further proof should have predators in a zoological garden. Which was for big harm to Nykøbing Falster Zoo, which until now had had many different predators, among these lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs and pumas?

The spreading of the television in the 1960-ties contributed to falling visitor numbers in the garden and thus bad economics. Therefore Mogens Olsen id in the middle of the 1960-ties began to breed ponies, which were used for a riding school which was situated next to Nykøbing Falster Zoologiske Have. The rising resistance against having predators in cages and some approaches from different animal lovers´ leagues and private persons make the municipality decide that it will not renew the contract with Mogens Olsen after its expiration on the 1st of April 1967. Instead council member Jens Birksø made a plan to rebuild the park into the biggest birds’ park of the North, with a gibbon island and a big cage for cheetahs.

The thought was to make an amusement park like “Brændesgårdshaven” on the island Bornholm. It ends with the removal of the entrance fee in order to make the garden a park for primarily the own citizens of the municipality. At the take over and in the following years the park is adapted to the purposes of the municipality. Cages are shut down, a kiosk is build and fences and the park are changed. The case between the municipality and Mogens Olsen pulled out and therefore he continued as the leader of the garden until 1970, where he together with his wife Jytte took the last 14 ponies to Sildestrup Strand and started “Olsens Ridecenter”. The municipality hired Karen and Finn Rasmussen to take care of the leadership of the garden, which they did until 1980, where they unexpectedly died with few months interval. The garden had to look for a new leader, and Vagn Falck Hansen was elected, who came from a job in Knuthenborg Safaripark. Vagn Falck Hansen was the daily leader until 1989, where he became sick.

There was no big development during the leadership of Karen and Finn Rasmussen and Vagn Hansen, as the ambitions and the resources were not very big. For instance there was only one permanent employee apart from Vagn Hansen in 1982, furthermore there were hired some trainees. One of them was Lotte Larsen, who after having learned everything about taking care of the animals from Vagn Hansen was permanent employee. During the sickness of Vagn Hansen in 1989 Lotte Larsen was appointed new daily leader of the garden, which she continued to be until 2001, where she returned to be keeper at a zoo. Since 2003 Lotte Larsen has had the title of chief keeper at a zoo in the garden.

EU laws about zoological gardens were during time tighter, and the well-being of the animals was seriously on the agenda while Lotte Larsen led the garden. She did therefore begin to develop the zoological garden and educate keeper at the zoo pupils. Nowadays Lotte Larsen stands for the theoretical and practical education of pupils in the basic education of the keeper at zoos education in Nykøbing Falster Zoo. Furthermore she teaches the farming trainees at the farming school Næsgård on North East Falster in care of zoological animals. In 2000 Nykøbing Falster Municipality made a deal with Center for Idéudvikling, Nykøbing F. for consultant help and a developing plan for Folkeparken, which the garden was called after a voting among the citizens of the town. The project “Folkeparken for the future” was very comprehensive and therefore Gunnar Schönveller was appointed as daily leader, and the garden changed its name to Nykøbing Falster Zoo.

With the new law about state aid for zoological gardens from the 1st of January 2001, the garden was pushed in its development, which meant that the garden began to participate in an international co-operation about saving the animals. The laws did also mean that the animals today have to be trained and activated, and that the animals in zoological gardens are considered belonging to the whole mankind and not to single persons. It also means that the animals cannot be sold between zoological gardens, but only can be lend or changed.

The new entrance building with shop and education room is inaugurated together with the waterfall in the duck bird lake. According to the joining of the municipalities in Denmark the garden changes its name in 2009 to “Guldborgsund Zoo og Botanisk Have” (Guldborgsund Zoo and Botanical Garden).