Usually, when we see animals at museums, they’re on expositions as fossils or at zoos, but when I last travelled to Europe I found two types of animals that live in important museums, but are not for expositions or at a zoo.
Cats – Hermitage Museum (St. Petesburg, Russia)
The museum has a press secretary dedicated to the cats, and three people act as caretakers. The cats live in the museum’s basement, and they also appear on the embankment and on the square during the summer. In previous eras they roamed throughout the museum galleries.
The staff has a joke that officially the museum is only supposed to have 50 cats, but in May 2013, the count was of 74 cats, of both sexes (but neutered), according to Haltunen. There are kitchens for preparing their food (“they all have different preferences”), and even a small hospital.
Irina Popovets, who became the head of the cat department, stated that the cats were “as well-known as our collections.”
As of 2013 donations, a €400-per-month payment from the charity Pro Animale, and the sponsorship of Royal Canin fund the presence of the cats.
Why there are cats there?
The cats were present in the museum, originally a palace, since the 18th century, becaus, in 1745, Elizabeth of Russia ordered cats to be placed in the palace in order to control the mice. James Rodgers of the BBC stated that the belief is that the cats originated from Kazan, a city known for having cats good at catching mice. The cats remained in St. Petersburg, except during World War II, when the existing cat population was killed. A new group of cats replaced the previous cats since the rat population had increased.
In the late 1990s, they began a programme to care for the cats, which previously lived in poor conditions. Then, in 2007, the museum began adopting cats needing homes.
Now, since 2011, the museum began a “Catfest”, a celebration of its cat population. “Catfest” has included cat painting contests and scavenger hunts for children.
Beginning in 2015, because of the number of visiting tourists, a website has been set up by the museum for people who may be interested in adopting a cat. “It is an honor to adopt a Hermitage cat,” one potential cat owner was told.
Rabbits – Army Museum (Paris, France)
If you have ever been to the Army Museum (if not, I highly recommend you to go, see here why), you saw that in the front yard there are LOTS os bunnies running around, with rabbit holes all over the place.
I searched everywhere and couldn’t find a single reason for them to be there… Actually, I didn’t find any info at all about them online. If I hadn’t seen them myself there, I wouldn’t even know they’re there.
I imagine people feed them, but I don’t believe there’s any department from the museum itself just to take care of them.
It’s safe living there, since they can’t run away easily, because of the walls and moat separating the museum from the street.
There are fences between the yard and the path of the museum, but I don’t believe they’re because of the bunnies, but because of the yard so that people won’t step on it.
That’s all for today’s post. These two were the only ones I ever heard of. If you know any more, please, share with me in the comments bellow and I’ll make a part 2.
Thanks for reading.