I’m with chief assistant professor Atanas Grozdanov, who is a long term friend of mine from the Faculty of Biology of Sofia University, where we studied together. He has started a student club SKORETS, which on its turn has renovated one of the labs in the Faculty of Biology and now hundreds of students pass through their lab to learn and observe native and foreign species. Even my first-grade son recently visited the lab with his classmates and they were really astonished by the opportunity to feed and touch some rare fish, chameleon, snakes and small rodents. They learned a lot of interesting facts about these animals. This is one of the places in Sofia that is definitely worth visiting if you are with kids in the Bulgarian capital.
Why did you start-up SKORETS (Starling) as an initiative?
I have a long history of volunteering or working in nature conservation organizations and at the beginning of my university career, I realized that such kind of activities is very important for the biology students. The additional experience outside the obligatory program is definitely one of the keys for creating motivated and skilled young conservationists.
When did you start it?
The club is active from more than 10 years.
According to your opinion, which are the greatest achievements of SKORETS?
Our main advantage is for sure the opportunity to work with many young people every year. Several hundred students visit our lab annually, but we also have more and more other visitors, including school classes, to which we are presenting the importance of nature conservation and our rich collection of live animals. We have a long history of field expeditions, conservation activities and many more and our greatest achievement is the motivation we create in our members and friends.
Can you tell me how a tourist can visit your laboratory?
Our lab is situated in the Faculty of biology and is open every working day. We don’t have a fixed schedule, but will always welcome you if we are informed in advance.
What kind of animals can be seen at the moment?
We have four species of snakes, including sand boa and a python, a variety of geckos, chameleon and agama. There are also many fish species, including native and invasive ones. Some small rodents, rabbit and parrots are also around.
Are kids allowed?
Yes, the laboratory has no restrictions for any visitors. The kids have the greatest fun of all our guests here, for sure.
What are your near future plans?
We are planning to continue with our educational and conservation work with young people. The last weeks we are continuing to plant some shrubs and other plants in the Faculty’s yard, in order to attract pollinators and wild birds. I hope that we will soon prepare new information boards, concerning the city wildlife for the yard. Of course, we are planning new field activities and improvements to the live collection.
Here is a gallery depicting some of the activities of SKORETS.