Mati Kaal, the legendary director of Tallinn Zoo awarded honorary membership by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums

On Tuesday, January 14, the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria announced the recognition of Mati Kaal as an honorary member. Kaal, who was the director of the Tallinn Zoo from 1975-2016, received the WAZA Council’s recognition for his long-standing commitment and contribution to the development of the zoo community.

“WAZA is pleased to present Mr. Kaal with a WAZA Honorary Membership to recognise his more than four decades of commitment and service to the global zoo and aquarium community. Mr. Kaal has made major contributions to the development of Tallinn Zoo, conservation and nature education in Estonia, as well as to the conservation of endangered species. It has been a pleasure to have Mr. Kaal as part of the global community of zoos and aquariums and through the honorary membership we look forward to him remaining a part of the WAZA family,” said the spokesperson for WASA, Gavrielle Kirk-Cohen.

“To be honest, this is a very moving message for me. I have been actively engaged in the world of zoos for 48 years. The fact that WAZA, which is an organisation representing science-based zoos around the world, has made such a decision, can make one believe that these years which make up 65% of my life so far, have been fruitful,” noted Mr. Kaal.

WAZA honorary membership is an acknowledgment that summarizes the important role of Mr. Kaal in three very different and complex times: improvement of the zoo in the limited circumstances of the Soviet Union, the difficult transition period in newly independent country during the 1990s and the subsequent development of the Tallinn Zoo.

Without the contribution of Mr. Kaal, Tallinn Zoo would not be the same. Also, many global processes would not be as they are today, such as the species conservation activities of the Amur leopard and European mink. This lifetime membership of WAZA allows Mati Kaal to continue participating in the global ventures of WAZA.

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is the global alliance of regional associations, national federations, zoos and aquariums, dedicated to the care and conservation of animals and their habitats around the world.

Mati Kaal, the legendary director of Tallinn Zoo awarded honorary membership by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums


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Entrance locations on the map


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Ehitajate tee 150 / Paldiski mnt. 145