Prague Zoo Seeks Public Help in Recovering Lost Films for Historical Purposes

Sbírka Rakouského filmového muzea

Prague Zoo, located in the capital of the Czech Republic, has contacted the public for assistance in finding eight lost films that could shed light on the zoo’s history. This comes after the discovery of old footage from the zoo’s early days during a press conference held in February 2023. The zoo had previously asked for help identifying an unknown woman in the footage, later identified as Marie Charousová-Gardavská.

While the zoo received much media attention after the press conference, the archives were hit hard by floods in 2002, resulting in the loss of a significant portion of the zoo’s historical documents. Therefore, searching for the lost films is crucial for filling in the gaps in the zoo’s history.

The zoo’s spokesperson, Filip Mašek, expressed his gratitude to the media for spreading awareness of the zoo’s search for historical films. He also noted that the zoo is eager to involve the public in the search for the lost films, as they could be a valuable source of information.

According to the zoo’s director, Miroslav Bobek, 13 films were recently acquired from Vienna. However, there could be as many as eight more films in existence. Historian Kateřina Jíšová from the Prague City Archive has been researching the history of Josef Zelinka (1893-1948), a filmmaker who may have produced some of the lost films.

One of Jíšová’s discoveries was the fact that the Zelinka’s brother-in-law, Jaromír Křečan, was a dentist who served as a witness at their wedding. Křečan later became a renowned specialist at the dental clinic of Professor Jan Jesenský, who frequently attended gatherings at the Zelinka’s home. These findings may help identify the potential existence and whereabouts of the lost films.

The search for lost films highlights the importance of preserving historical records, especially for institutions like Prague Zoo, which significantly impact the community. The involvement of the public in the search is also a reminder of the power of collaboration in preserving cultural heritage.